back to top

7 Tourist Scams That Will Cut Your Holiday Destination Short

Don't get scammed at your travel holiday destination. There are professionals out to make money from you while you're on holiday. Funnily enough, they don't care about your holiday.

Posted on

7 Tourist Scams That Will Cut Your Holiday Destination Short

Picasa / Via Going.Expert

Everyone loves to travel, seeing new sights, experiencing new cultures and taking in all the different activities one sees in a new travel destination.

We are comfortable in our local suburb or town, and generally even in our surrounding cities as we have spent time in them and know what to expect. But what about travelling to holiday destinations outside of our borders? What do we know about these new places? What should you look out for and avoid?

If you keep your valuables close and your senses very alert, and get some local travel knowledge before you go, you should be ok. Just in case you’re short of those things, here are some 7 classic travel scams to be alert to when travelling.

1. The Bottled Water Scam

You will find this in many countries that are hot and where the water is questionable to drink. Just be careful when buying bottled water because some places (hostels/auberges/sidewalk cafes) may try to sell you water in bottles that have been already used. Yuk!

Well the bottle has been used before, not the actual water, although the water may be from the local source that the locals can stomach, but a tourist may not be able to. No wonder people get sick and diarrhea when travelling in some countries.

You may think you are buying an unopened bottle because it clicks when turning the lid. However, these scammers 'super glue' the lids back on after they have refilled and chilled the bottles, giving you the impression of a new bottle.

2. The Foreign Exchange Currency Dealer

Common in many countries when you are changing money at an unlicensed foreign exchange dealer. You give them your home currency and they leave it on the counter in front of them. They then count out the local currency in front of you. You agree the amount is correct. Then with some sleight of hand adept to the world’s best magicians, they quickly move the pile of currency just behind the counter and skim off a portion of your just counted local country notes before seamlessly handing you the money. They have your foreign currency and you now have a lesser value of local currency.

It is not until you count it later that you realise the sting. You watched them count the money out so you don’t really have a case. Best idea is to have them count it a second time into your waiting hand.

3. The Taxi Ride ‘Extras’

You can pick a non-english speaking country and have this one happen to you. You’re going on a cruise, or catching a connecting flight, the next day, so you stay at a local hotel overnight. The next day you are suggested or offered a taxi to the cruise ship or airport and that is should cost you about 10 dollars.

The driver pretends not to speak English and at the destination charges you 45 dollars because he put your luggage in the boot of the car. When you object he gets very loud and starts to threaten you – and your luggage is still in the boot – so you pay the exorbitant charge.

Always check the cost and extras charge before you go on any taxi ride that is out of the ordinary.

4. My Uncle Sells The Best…

Another tourist scam in many countries is the incredibly helpful tourist who assists you to bypass the queues at popular tourist spots, no matter how much you protest. They're syrupy sweet and just want to help you. If you allow them to, they will be waiting at the exit to take you to their Uncle's carpet/shirt/rug/art shop. Surely, after all they've done for you; you can just go and take a look, right?

In Fiji, they are always near the transport links, ready to take you to the only 'authentic' wood carved shops in the area, where the profits go back to the local villages. However the items are not treated, so you can’t bring them back home, and the commission he is getting for taking you there is added onto your ‘haggled’ price.

5. Is This Yours?

"I think you dropped this?" A pedestrian stops to pick something up as you pass by and voila! It's a gold ring. Surely this must be yours? If you express surprise and delight at its swift recovery, the finder will ask for a reward, and make it pretty obvious you won't get away without paying. While it might look like gold to a casual eye, the ring is brass, and worth about 10 cents.

Paris, along the Seine is a typical stretch to catch out a tired tourist. A twist on this classic scam is “What hotel are you staying at? Yes this is from there. Can you return it for me?” As soon as it is on your hand you are in for a wild ride of negotiation. Keep your hands in your pockets.

6. Catch my baby

This is pretty brazen. It involves throwing a baby at you, with the high probability that common humanity will prevail, you will catch the lobbed infant, your hands will thus be engaged and the baby thrower and her accomplices will rifle your pockets – generally without you even knowing.

Best to avoid this one by turning and pointing at a sight so you are not responsible for catching the ‘fake’ baby. It’s ok, there aren’t that many real babies being thrown around the streets by pick-pocketers so odds are yours will be a doll.

7. The Street Performer

So you’ve all seen the crowds slowly gather around a performer who is very entertaining and seems to make a good ten to hundred bucks every half hour. Well they have friends. And their friends are working through the crowd picking pockets, backpack and handbags by the dozen. These days of taking photos and videos on our phones, you’ll see most of the crowd holding up both hands recording the great feats of creativity in front of them – leaving their valuables exposed.

Then you get the personal performers who want to show you some variation of magic trick, up close and personal. An oldie but a goodie is to show you a trick by trying to tie string around your fingers, a neat trick to remove your jewellery, which you get back. But what you won’t get back is all of your valuables that their accomplice has removed from you and your friends’ bags while they are engrossed in your comic antics.

Stay Alert

These are but a few common tourist scams that many travellers succumb to. Our advice is to have fun and get involved in all of the great and new experiences abroad but keep your money safe when travelling by being alert and cautious. You’re not at home.

Before you travel do your research on the destination on an unbiased holiday destination travel guide and use a travel agent who has “been-there”. They’ll save you, the traveller, time and money and provide a heap of local knowledge that will turn a holiday from a good one to the most amazing experience – and should also bring you home safe with all of your valuables intact.

Visit for free destination travel guides and Travel Tips. Going.Expert connects travellers with "been-there" travel agents.

This post was created by a member of BuzzFeed Community, where anyone can post awesome lists and creations. Learn more or post your buzz!