Travel Scams: Travel scams to watch out 2020

December is a stone throw away and many of us are planning to go on vacations and treat our loved ones or just have some fun by ourselves. We have always had about travel scams but they never seem to get old.

The tactics change overnight and even some of the smartest people have found themselves victims of these uncouth habits.

Whether you are traveling domestically or intercontinental, sometimes being vigilant and skeptical about everything can help you avoid some of the common scams.

Major travel scams you should look out for

Let’s jump into some of the common travel scams that you should look out for during your travel.

  1. The taxi overcharge

Taxi guys always have a way of digging deeper into your pockets and unfortunately, it is one of the most common scams that exist.

When they realize that you are new to an area, they will try all means to overcharge you. They can even drive you through a longer route just so you pay higher or claim that their counting meter is broken in a move to charge you a hefty rate.

Read Also: How to travel the world cheaply

To avoid such a scam, make sure you use the latest taxi mobile apps to find a driver. Such apps are able to predict how much the ride will cost by estimating the distance between your destination and your pick up point.

travel scams

If there are only regular taxis in the location, make sure you board a taxi that has a ‘working’ meter. You do not have to be overcharged for being a tourist or a stranger somewhere.

2. The flirtatious woman

You arrive in a new country and head to a bar, where a beautiful local comes up to you for a chat. This is the luck you cannot believe in.

You have some drinks and an amazing conversation and go to a new bar or club that she suggested.

However, after a wild night and lots of drinks, the woman disappears and you’re forced to pay an overpriced bill with some really big guys bearing down on you to make sure you do. Or, worse, you get drugged and wake up completely robbed of everything on you.

Interesting: Travel the world without Money

The simple solution to this is to be wary of attractive women who promise to take you to the world’s best club, get you drinks, or are overly flirtatious, especially when you stand out like a sore thumb as a foreigner.

3. Your accommodation is “closed”

Some taxi drivers will try to convince you that the hotel you have asked to be taken to is overbooked and hence the accommodation is closed.

This is just common sense, how would a taxi driver know that while they have been on the road the whole day.

Even more, the hotel wouldn’t have allowed you to book if they were fully booked. In such an instance, the taxi drivers may be trying to convince you so they can take you to a hotel they have made a deal with and get a commission for bringing a walk-in client.

Even when this looks like it’s not a scam, people actually for it and end up losing the money they used to book their accommodation. Even worse, walk-in hotels often offer substandard service which will not impress you.

No matter how friendly that taxi guy may seem to be, if they suggest something that you find controversial, it is probably because it’s controversial and they want to milk as much money as they can from you.

4. Street gambling

This is one scam that I often see affecting even locals, especially in urban areas. How people end up falling for such scams remains a puzzle for me because I can even stand a second to have a look at what is going on. Street gambling is one of the most ancient scams that have frisked people yet we never seem to learn.

You will always find a crowd where such a thing is happening. They may be card games of a ball and a cup on a board where the master of the game tells people to predict where the ball so they can win money. If their prediction is wrong, they lose their stake.

As a traveler, you should be wary of this scam lest you will lose your money and ruin your good mood. Don’t get suckered into this con. Remember, the house always wins!

5. Please take this as a gift from me

Any time you accept a gift from a complete stranger, there is always a principle of reciprocity that compels you to do something for them. Most of the time, after they give you a gift, they come up with a demand that you feel reprimanded to fulfill.

Just because they did something nice for you, you may end up consuming your budget doing things that were completely off the books so please, think twice before you accept a gift from a total stranger you met during your visit.

Other people just after knowing you will try to give you something like rosemary, a bracelet or something you can put on.

Afterward, they will begin to ask for money from you. When you refuse to give the money, they create a huge scene until you just give up and grant them what they need. Be wary of these small things that could put you in trouble during your travel.

6. Someone spills on your clothes

One of the best ways to distract someone is to spill on their clothes. They begin to think about what they are going to change into and their mind becomes cluttered at that moment.

That creates a perfect time for whoever spilled on you or their counterparts to steal from you because you are not cautious because of the commotion.

If someone spills on you, accept their apology and that should be enough. They should not come dabbing on you offering to clean your clothes. That is their perfect time to pick-pocket you.

7. Automobile scam

While renting a motorbike or a car in a foreign country, make sure you thoroughly inspect it for damages.

Otherwise, you may be in for one of the most common travel scams where owners demand expensive repairs on their automobiles, some of which you did not even know about.

Always take photos of the asset you are renting before you drive away with it. Better still, you can rent a driver or a tour service provider to avoid these scams.

8. Drug deal Gone bad

This scam is common in many developing countries. You’re in a popular tourist area and someone offers you drugs.

You say yes, and before you know it, a (real) cop is on the scene! They offer to arrest you or you can pay the fine right there (a bribe). Caught red-handed, you’ll probably pay the bribe rather than go to jail in a foreign country.

9. The “found” treasure

An innocent-looking person picks up a ring on the ground and asks if you dropped it. When you say no, the person looks at the ring closely, then shows you a mark “proving” that it’s pure gold. He or she offers to sell it to you for a better price.

They make some money, and you get some gold you can resell. It’s a win-win! You think it’s a good deal, buy it and find out its fake when you try to sell it at home!


A scam can take any shape and it only takes you healthy levels of suspicion to be on the safe side. One of the best ways to avoid scams is to be wary when it comes to people offering you something in a touristy setting.

Think of it this way: in your day-to-day life back home, would you go for it? If the answer is no, then chances are 99% that it’s a scam. On the road, a little common sense goes a long way.

When it comes to travel scams, no one is safe. Locals could be scammed by a tourist and a tourist could be scammed by locals. I have a really interesting story that taught me never to trust anyone.

Traveling to Kenya? Here is what to expect!

Just because someone attended a flight and flew to your country, it does not increase his/her attractiveness score. If there will be a public demand for the story, then I will share it with you guys. Meanwhile, be safe as you hit the road and remember angels exist in heaven alone.

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Brian is a founding writer at Urban Kenyans. His work is focused on how to improve the digital literacy of Kenyans online. He has been able to do so with his mastery of Kenya and the English Language.

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