How To Spot Signs Of Being Scammed While Traveling

Being scammed is always a big concern while traveling. But one can mitigate these scams if one knows what to watch out for.

Being scammed is a big concern for travelers and tourists around the world. As the old saying goes “knowledge is power” and very often newly arrived tourists have no idea how a place works or what a fair price to pay is. It is common to see tourists pay $100 for a taxi ride that should cost only $5 or in India to even be given a menu for tourists – the same menu – just with an extra set of zeros added to the prices of each menu item.

So how can one know if one is being scammed? This is a very broad topic, but here are some tips and some warning signs to watch out for. This is just one of the ways of staying safe while traveling.


How Long Have You Been In This Country?

A common tactic of scammers in tourist areas is to ask a series of seemingly friendly and innocuous questions. These can go (with the scammer having a warm and welcoming smile): Hello, how are you? Where are you from? How long have you been in (insert name of country

  • Knowledge: Knowledge is Power

To be sure more often than not most people will ask these questions innocently, welcomingly, and out of interest. But watch out for scammers. The first question is fine. The second question is a segway to start a “friendly” conversation – “You’re from California? I have a cousin in San Diego…” “New Zealand?” “Go All Blacks” (the national rugby team). This is to make the tourist trust him by him knowing something about one’s home.


The third question is the worst. This is testing the waters to see if one is new to the country or not. If it is the tourist’s umpteenth time there, then the assumption is they will be familiar with the prices, workings, and trappings of that country and will not fall for a scam.

  • How Long Have You Been Here?: A Question To See If The Tourist Is Fresh Meat

But if one answers, “It’s my first time, I just arrived yesterday.” Then fresh meat! The scammers may attempt some outrageous scams.

Sometimes if one answers “My 15th time, I come here all the time.” or “I live here”, then they will often reply, “Enjoy your day” and walk away looking for easier prey.


Related: 10 Essential Safety Tips For Exploring An Unfamiliar Place

Taxis At Airports

As a rule of thumb, in something like half of the world, one can expect taxis at the airport to try to scam newly arrived tourists. Often they will charge 10x or even more than the regular price.

  • taxis: Expect Taxis At Airports To Scam In Many Countries
  • without gauges: In Many Countries, Taxis Don’t Have Meters
  • With Gauges: In Some Countries Like Vietnam and Turkey, Taxis Have Meters and Make Sure They Use Them

One way to counter this is to ask the hotel or any contact that one has in that country how much the fare should be before arriving.


Hailing apps work in just about every country now. Download whichever hailing app works best there (Yandex in Georgia, Bolt in Vietnam, Uber in South Africa, etc.).

  • Hailing App: Download A Hailing App

Taxi meters are not used in many countries and the price is agreed on beforehand or everyone just knows it but nothing is written down. If one asks the price, that also means that one doesn’t know the price – so be careful with that question.

  • Tip: Always Have Small Change – Or A Dishonest Taxi Driver will Say he Doesn’t Have Any Change

If one doesn’t want the hassle, then one’s hotel probably offers a shuttle service. These are often more expensive than honestly priced taxis but much cheaper than the inflationed prices scamming taxi drivers will likely charge.


Related: 10 Safety Tips To Be Aware Of When Traveling Alone

When They Try To Sell Something Different

Huge red flags are when salesmen try to sell something different from what one asked and say that something isn’t possible (that really ought to be possible).

One common tactic in India is to get people into their travel agency who are looking to buy a bus or train ticket. The “friendly” salesmen invite them to stay for tea or even lunch. Before long they are suggesting going to Kashmir (a stunning destination, as well as Ladakh, that one should actually go to).

  • Red Flag: When A Travel Agent Suggests Something Different To What One Asked For

Then they say that there is snow in the mountain passes so the roads are closed and the road is really long anyway. So one should fly. There are many return flights and they are cheap, don’t worry about that, book those flights later.

  • Tip: The Passes Into Kashmir Are Almost Always Open

Before one realizes. One came in looking for a bus ticket to the neighboring city but instead finds oneself on a one-way ticket to Kashmir where they can keep on stalling and getting more and more money from the tourist.

Next: Tourists Don’t Have To Avoid The Most Dangerous Cities In Europe (Here’s How To Do Them Safely)


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