The exciting thing about traveling is that you get to see new sights and try different experiences, both good and not-so-good. For me, the biggest part of ensuring I have the best time on the road is packing the right travel essentials and staying focused. To that end, avoiding travel scams is very important.

If you fall for a travel scam, you could lose a little money, at best, or ruin your entire trip, at worst. One thing that makes avoiding these scams rather tricky is that there are many of them, and they vary widely from location to location.

However, I’ll be sharing some of the most common ones as well as the best ways to avoid them here!

The Biggest Travel Scams (and How to Avoid Them)

As I said before, there are lots of these scams out there. A few of them apply, no matter where you go, while others are kind of region-specific. But the most common of these tricks to watch for include:

One – The Shortchange Scam

For those who will be taking to the streets for the most part of their trip, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to handle cash. And, barring a few exceptions, most currency bills tend to look alike. Some less-than-honest locals might try to take advantage of this and give you the wrong bills. If you’re in a hurry and only check color and not the denomination, you likely won’t notice until it’s too late.

The only way around this is to be careful when counting your change. That may be a bit of a hassle, but it’ll surely save you money.

Two – The Ol’ Switcheroo

I fell for this once, and I’ve been wise to the deceit ever since. It was 2022, and I was perusing a street store when I saw a designer scarf I loved. In retrospect, I realize I was just a little greedy as there was no way something that good would’ve gone for such a low price. Anyway, I bought the scarf, and I remember I was replying to a text on my phone so I looked away briefly. That must’ve been when the store owner switched out my scarf for a knockoff. I was red-faced when I opened the package later in the day.

The moral of the story is to be wary of “very good” deals. When you do make a purchase, ensure that you watch the seller at all times so they don’t swap out what you bought for something inferior.

Three – The Spill

There you are, strolling down the street and enjoying the beautiful view around you when someone “bumps” into you and spills a drink on your favorite vacay shirt. Tough luck, but these things happen, don’t they? Plus, they’re very apologetic and help you wipe the stain.

That’s all well and good, and the moment passes. Only for you to want to pay for something later and discover that your purse or wallet is missing!

This experience is more common in Europe but it can happen to you anywhere, really. The best you can do to ward it off is to be very wary of people encroaching on your person under any guise.

Four – The Tea Scam

My friend, Andrew, visited Morocco a while back, and he came back with a rather interesting story. He was walking past a store when the owner came out and casually engaged him in conversation. One thing led to another, and Andrew mentioned that he was from Massachusetts. “Coincidentally,” the store owner had a cousin there as well and so invited Andrew in so he could have some tea and help him write a postcard. For some reason, he declined and went on his way.

Andrew mentioned this incident to hotel staff later and was told that if he had entered the store and had a drink, he would’ve been pressured into making an overpriced purchase! Taking the tea would’ve made him socially obligated to reciprocate.

Long story short, be on your guard when you meet someone who just so happens to have a relative where you stay. And, just be careful when taking gifts from strangers in general.

Making sure that you don’t fall for the various tactics of scammers while you’re on vacation is a full-time gig. There are no off days. But the payoff is most certainly worth it, as you won’t end up losing anything important to you!

Have a fun trip!