My travel philosophy is to plan as much as I can so travel will go as perfectly as possible, but to be prepared for problems that may occur. I try to deal with problems by correcting what I can during my trip and keeping records for handling the rest after the trip. Then, most importantly, I try to enjoy the rest of my trip.
Below are 11 travel scams, overcharges, or crimes of opportunity that have caused problems for me. I have listed what I have learned from each as a solution, so hopefully you can learn from my experiences.
For all the details on exactly what happened to me in each of these examples, listen to my podcast on this topic by clicking on the podcast bar above or go to iTunes and click on Episode 20 of my podcast series, “One Perfect Day in Travel.”
1 – Problem – My credit card was charged in the currency of my country of residence instead of the local currency as a “convenience” resulting in an overcharge of currency conversion costs.
Solution – When you check in and when you check out of a hotel, tell the hotel that you want to be charged in local currency. Before you leave home, check with your credit card company to make sure your credit card does not charge an international transaction fee or an international currency conversion fee. Get a copy of your bill before you check out of your hotel and verify that the charge is in the local currency.
2 – Problem – With my child in one hand and my purse over my other shoulder, a man tried to take my wallet out my purse just as I boarded a crowded subway.
Solution – Wear a money belt at your waist either inside your clothes or an actual belt that zips on the inside and can hold money, especially when you are in crowded areas.
3 – Problem – My sister and I were attacked by teenagers with newspapers holding them in our faces and separating us in a robbery attempt in a city park that was not very crowded at the time. The teenagers tried to reach inside our tops to grab our passport/money holders, and they tried to get our purses off our necks. We screamed and were helped by other tourists who came upon the scene.
Solution – Be aware of your surroundings and don’t be afraid to scream and yell if you are threatened. Wear a money belt at your waist inside your clothes.
4 – Problem – A lady picked up a gold ring and asked me and my daughter if we had dropped it. We said that we had not, but she tried to show us that it was real gold and asked us to pay her only 20 Euro for it. We told her we did not want the ring, but she followed us for a while trying to convince us to buy the ring from her. We later learned this is a typical scam in big cities, and the ring is never really made of gold.
Solution – Walk away from anyone trying to approach you. If they keep following, walk inside a hotel or restaurant, or look for police and walk toward the police.
5 – Problem – A lady placed a scarf around my sister-in-law’s neck and tried to get her to buy it. I had to help my sister-in-law get the lady to remove the scarf from her neck and to leave her alone.
Solution – Assume anyone approaching you to hand you anything or to talk with you is probably trying to scam you. Walk away from anyone trying to approach you. If they keep following, walk inside a hotel or restaurant, or look for police and walk toward them.
6 – Problem – A thief stole a camera from the storage space of my sister’s baby stroller while my sister was attending to her daughter in the stroller.
Solution – Keep all valuables in your waist band or near you. Be especially vigilant in crowded places, particularly when you are attending to children or are otherwise distracted.
7 – Problem – I was approached by an unauthorized taxi driver in an airport just outside of the taxi line. I did not realize I was not dealing with an authorized driver and paid extra to share a taxi.
Solution – Always use the official taxi line at the airport. Before you leave for your trip, research taxi costs and location of taxi lines. Also, when you get into the taxi, if the meter is broken, get out and take the next taxi.
8 – Problem – While taking a tour around a city in a small cart-type vehicle, we did not specify that we wanted to return to the exact location where we began the tour. We had to pay extra to be returned to the original pick-up point.
Solution – Negotiate price in advance. Make sure that you are clear that you are negotiating a round-trip return to your starting location.
9 – Problem – While waiting at a crowded hotel check-in area, thieves stole suitcases of others standing near us by casually picking the suitcases up as if they were their own and walking out of the hotel while the guests checking in were busy at the counter.
Solution – Keep suitcases with you at all times at the check-in counter. If you must check your bags, remove your valuables.
10 – Problem – We were charged high international conversion charges at a money exchange counter at the airport and, another time, at a non-bank ATM (Automatic Teller Machine).
Solution – Research the names of the larger banks in the countries you will be visiting. Withdraw money from one of these bank ATMs to have a lower conversion fee than some of the exchange companies. Also, use an ATM from a bank inside the airport, before security if at all possible. It is safer in this area, because most criminals will not want the hassle of dealing with the extra security here.
11 – Problem – My wallet was stolen out of my purse while I was sitting in a nice restaurant. I left my purse hanging on the back of my chair, and the thief sat behind me and took my wallet out of my purse before he ordered his dinner. When I realized he had taken my wallet, he ran out of the restaurant. The police caught him later. Listen to the podcast to hear the whole story. Spoiler – It has a happy ending!
Solution – Never put your purse on the back of a chair. Use a crossbody purse and keep it in front of you. Gentlemen, never keep money in your back pocket.
I would love to hear from you about travel problems you have encountered or questions you have that I might be able to answer about travel.
Also, for upcoming podcasts, what cities would you like me to feature in upcoming podcasts?
Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time, I hope all your travel days are perfect!