Staying Safe from Travel Scams

Reagan Fausett
staying safe from travel scams

Ah, yes. It’s that time of year again: time for the annual family vacation. Kids are buzzing with excitement and parents welcome a much-needed break from work. While family vacations are fun, anyone who’s ever been on one knows that they’re equally stressful. Between getting everyone packed, making travel plans, and keeping everyone happy, family vacations can seem a bit more like work than play

Keeping your family happy on your vacation is a challenge in and of itself, but keeping them safe from strangers and scammers makes traveling a little trickier. If you’ve got a family trip coming up, do a little research on common scams so you know what to look for on your next vacation. 

Let’s look at a five of these common ploys and tips to help you and your family stay safe from travel scams:

1. Damaging Merchandise

If you’ve ever found yourself in a tourist trap, you know how many people are trying to sell you things. One of the clever ploys some scam artists use in situations like these is the “damaged goods” scam. In this ploy, scammers place the goods they’re selling in exposed, unprotected areas in hopes that an unassuming tourist will step on or bump into something. Once a tourist “damages” an item, the scam artist then tries to force them into paying for it. 

How to avoid this scam: 

  • Keep your eyes on where you’re walking.
  • Watch out for precariously placed items.
  • Contact the authorities if a scammer tries to get you to pay for something (this scam is illegal in several areas).

2. Free Goods

The old adage “nothing in life is free” is a great rule to live by while traveling. Scammers love to trick tourists into buying things by claiming they’re “free.” A scam artist will often put their merchandise on a tourist (whether it be a bracelet or a hat) and insist that it’s a gift. 

How to avoid this scam:

  • Never accept anything for “free” while traveling.
  • Do your best to avoid allowing a scammer to put anything on you. 
  • Make sure your kids know to not accept anything from a stranger. 

3. Fraudulent Tickets

As you’re making travel plans (and even as you’re on the trip), be aware of sites and scammers who might be selling fraudulent tickets. Many scam websites take advantage of tourists looking for deals, and in-person scammers will often stand outside an attraction to sell invalid tickets to last-minute buyers. 

How to avoid this scam: 

  • Make sure you buy tickets on authorized, official websites.
  • Don’t fall for deals that seem too good to be true—they usually are.
  • Avoid street sellers that flock outside of attractions.

4. Picture Taking

Getting a good picture of the whole family on vacation isn’t easy, and you might be tempted to accept a stranger’s offer to snap a quick photo, but be careful. Some scammers will offer to take a photo for a family, then refuse to give the phone or camera back until they receive an outrageous amount of money. Other scammers will go around in costume and offer to take pictures with tourists, then demand monetary compensation for the picture. 

How to avoid this scam:

  • If you ask someone to take a picture of you, make sure they’re also a tourist.
  • Don’t consent to being in or taking any photos with strangers in costume.
  • Don’t accept offers from strangers to take your picture.

5. Sinister Courtesy

This one might sound strange, but even doing or accepting a favor from a stranger, can be a scam ploy. Some scammers will use these scenarios to distract you from what they’re really wanting. For instance, someone might “accidentally” bump your drink and offer to help you clean up the mess, but during this time, they slip away one of your personal belongings without you realizing. 

How to avoid this scam:

  • Be aware of your belongings at all times. 
  • Don’t accept or give favors to strangers (unless you can tell that they’re another tourist like yourself). 
  • Keep your valuables out of sight (preferably in a hidden money belt). 

Staying safe from travel scams can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to ruin your trip! You and your family can still go out and have a wonderful, relaxing vacation by taking a few extra safety precautions. Speaking of safety, another great way to keep your little ones safe on your family trip is with Troomi. Troomi phones allow you and your kiddos to stay in touch in case you get separated, and better yet, Troomi allows you to track your child’s location so you’ll always know where to find them.

Be sure to educate your family on what to watch for while you travel. After all, the more eyes on the lookout, the safer you’ll all be (and the more peace of mind you’ll have). So get out there and get traveling!