Safe Travel Tips: Don’t Get Scammed, Robbed or Ripped Off
Don’t get scammed, robbed or ripped-off when traveling. Yes, it can happen anywhere, but it can be a real hassle when you’re far from home. The good news is, you can avoid the worst of it by following safe travel tips.
Safe travel basics
Once you start planning a trip and find a cheap flight, it’s time to learn how to recognize a scam. This short video will help.
Safe packing – no valuables
One way to avoid scammers is by not having anything they want.
- Do not bring irreplaceable jewelry on your travels.
- Leave non-essential electronic devices at home (one should suffice).
- Bring two credit cards only (and keep the back-up in a safe place).
If you must bring some valuables, here’s how to safeguard them.
- Keep valuables on you, or in carry-ons; checked-bags can get lost.
- When staying at a hotel, keep valuables in the safe.
- Do not carry wallets in back pockets (makes them easy to steal).
- Do not dangle purses off the backs of chairs (easy to grab).
Please, do not flash cash or cards or make a big display of your expensive jewelry. When you need to get use a credit card or pull money out of your wallet, be discreet. At the ATM, use your body and/or hands to shield PIN numbers and hide the amount of currency you’re getting. Don’t forget to pick up your card when the transaction is completed.
Pickpocket scams are common the world over, and many are known as distraction crimes. A thief distracts a victim, then takes the victim’s money. A few examples.
Take my picture: You’re in front of an iconic monument when a local fellow approaches. “Would you like me to take your picture?” asks the friendly man. You hand him your phone, and he takes off. Tip: If a selfie won’t do, consider asking a fellow tourist to do the honors. Not long ago, a fellow in an Ohio State cap was spotted in Rome taking photo after photo for a line of tourists. Maybe they thought, if you can’t trust a guy from the Midwest, who can you trust?
Excuse-me collisions: You walk down a city street and accidentally collide with someone. The person who bumped you offers lengthy and heartfelt apologies. Only after you continue on your way do you notice your wallet is missing.
Table theft: A person walks between tables at an outdoor café and bumps yours, perhaps spilling a glass of wine. Again, loud apologies are made while he attempts to mop up the spill. A few moments later, you realize your phone which had been on the table is gone. You should have kept it in a pocket or in your hands.
Bracelet weavers: You’re in a crowded tourist district when a fast-talking, genial local begins weaving a bracelet around your wrist. It’s kind of fun and the weaver keeps up a steady patter of interesting conversation the whole time. Unfortunately, this patter is designed to distract you while his confederates gather around to pick some pockets and purses. Always say no to bracelets or other freebies because they are never free! Just keep walking.
Tip: If you do become a victim, contact the local police right away.
Fascinating facts and research
Researching your destination(s) only takes a few minutes, and it’s well worth it. These sites can offer useful info on quirky local laws, common scams, and ways to stay safe.
If traveling in another country: The U.S. State Department has a travel section with country-by-country listings that include information on staying safe. Read before you go. Many other countries have similar advice (and warnings) on government and official tourism sites.
If traveling in your own country: Find information about your destination by searching [City Name] plus the words “visitor safety”. You’ll find lots of useful information.
Use common sense
Your secret weapon for staying safe at home or abroad is your own common sense. Use normal precautions and stay alert to your surroundings, as you’d do anywhere. For instance, if you saw a dark and deserted street while out walking on vacation, and felt uncomfortable, do the same thing you’d do at home – turn back! Or, if you’re waiting in line for a taxi at the airport and someone approaches and offers you a very cheap ride in what’s clearly an unlicensed cab, just say no. The dark street and the cheap ride may be perfectly safe, but why take a chance?
Bad stuff can happen to the savviest of travelers; what matters is how you deal with problems. Avoid what you can and roll with the minor stuff. Now relax and have a wonderful time.
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