ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

6 Common Scams to Watch out for When Travelling

Updated on June 10, 2021
Iammattdoran profile image

Rob is an avid traveller and a keen photographer who showcases his work on Flickr and sells his images through Adobe Stock and Shutterstock.

Beware of travel scams
Beware of travel scams

#1 Taxi Driver Scams

There are a whole host of taxi driver scams to watch out for. Most of them can be avoided by using common sense and taking standard precautions.

One of the common taxi scams is the taxi-dash scam in which the driver pulls away when you get out of the car to retrieve your bag from the boot. This can be avoided by simply paying the fare once you have retrieved your luggage or, if only travelling with smaller items, keep them with you on your seat.

Another common scam, especially in less developed countries where taxis are unlicensed, such as in Mongolia, is where you negotiate a fare to your destination but when you arrive the price has suddenly multiplied by the number of people in your party. The driver will insist that the fare he quoted was the price per person so if negotiating a fare in advance make sure you ask the driver to confirm the total cost.

Dodgy taxi driver
Dodgy taxi driver

#2 Fake Friendly Local Scam

This is a common scam in popular tourist destinations that makes you especially vulnerable if you don't look like you know where you are going. In the typical scenario a person will casually walk up beside you and strike up what appears to be an innocent conversation. At some point they will ask where you are going and will tell you that they know the quickest way to get there and will offer to show you the way.

One of two things normally happens next. One - which is the worst scenario - is that you get taken to a secluded place and you get robbed at knife-point. The second scenario is much more harmless but still a source of much annoyance and time-wasting. This is where the guide will take you to a hotel other than the one you wanted to go to or will take you to the shop of a 'friend'. At either of these places you will be confronted with an incredibly pushy person who will try to intimidate you into buying something or checking into the hotel at exorbitant rates. The door may be locked behind you as part of the tactic of intimidation. The person who led you there is normally on commission with such places. If you find yourself in this situation remain calm and politely but firmly insist on leaving.

Why looking lost could land you in trouble
Why looking lost could land you in trouble

#3 The Travel Agent Scam

I am telling you about this scam based on my own personal experience of it happening to me. A few years ago I flew to Delhi for my very first visit to India. My flight was delayed so I was incredibly tired when I landed at 6am local time. I had done some research in advance and learned that you should arrange your taxi from the pre-paid booth in the arrivals hall of the airport. I did this and all was well until I went outside and a guy took my receipt off me and directed me to a waiting taxi in the line.

On setting off the driver asked me where I was going which I thought was odd given that I had pre-paid for a trip to a specified destination. I told him where my hotel was as I had the whole address written down. He said he didn't know it and started to tell me that there was major religious festival on in the city which meant that all the hotel rooms were full. I didn't pay much attention to this as I had my hotel reserved and just wanted to get there.

He then started pointing out some hotels and quoting the room prices to me which were 100x more than I had paid for my hotel. Again, I was tired and wasn't taking too much notice. After a few minutes or so we stopped at a travel agents office and he asked me to go inside with him to ask for directions. The travel agent told me that he had heard many bad things about my hotel but offered to call them up to get the directions. I sat across from him as he dialled the number, said something down the phone in hindi and then passed me the phone. I spoke to a voice on the other end who told me my room had been double booked and that he could not honour my reservation.

I was starting to get annoyed at this point but still hadn't fully understood what was going on. The travel agent then started to repeat the driver's story about there being a religious festival on in Delhi and that I would struggle to find another room available at such short notice. He offered to call a couple of hotels up for me to see if he could find a room. He called the first hotel and passed me the phone to speak to the person on the other end. The guy on the other end told me that he had one room available but he quoted me a price that was seventy times higher than the price of the hotel I had booked!

He rang another hotel and the same thing happened. At this point the penny dropped and I realised I had been speaking to the same person on the other end of the phone every time. Knowing that I was being played I insisted that the taxi driver take me to the hotel that I had booked. I told him that he knew exactly where the hotel is located and that I will get very angry if he didn't take me there. He went into a massive sulk but still made one final attempt to take me to another hotel that he assured me was definitely in my price range - no doubt some place where he got commission for dropping off unwitting tourists.

Eventually, after refusing to accept his alternative hotel, he dropped me off in the neighbourhood where my hotel was located. He pointed up an alley and told me the hotel was located up there but that cars were not allowed. I was so fed up at this point that I got out and walked. I set off up the alley but never did manage to find the hotel. However, as the religious festival was bogus I had no trouble finding another hotel for a reasonable price.

Is the person you are speaking to really where they say they are?
Is the person you are speaking to really where they say they are?

#4 Hotel Pay Scam

You've booked a hotel and when you check in you are asked to pay the full amount for your stay in advance. When you come to check out later you will be met by a different person at the reception who will ask you to pay for your stay. You will argue that you have already paid but unless you can produce a receipt they will insist on payment and threaten to call the police. This is a scam so hold your ground and continue to insist that you have already paid. If you continue to experience threatening behaviour then threaten to call the police yourself. An easy way to avoid all of this is to insist on being given a receipt for your payment at check in.

Hotel check out scam
Hotel check out scam

#5 The Distraction Scam

This scam is often carried out by more than one person. In this scenario someone may 'accidentally' bump into you and drop some coins or some papers on the floor. The scam hinges on your decency so relies on you being kind and helping to reach down and pick up the dropped items. While doing this the other scammer will have been robbing you with their hands in your backpack or your pockets.

There's another version of the distraction scam that occurs in cafes and restaurants. In this scenario the scammers will be targeting those who have valuable items such as wallets or cell phones on the table in front of them. The scammer will approach the table and place a piece of paper over the valuable item. This could be a map which they point to asking for directions or it may be a child who claims not to speak English and who is asking for food or money. When they leave they will discretely pick up your valuable item along with their bit of paper. Before you realise what's happened, they're gone.

Distraction scam
Distraction scam

#6 The 200 Euro Drink Scam

This is a common scam in Eastern European countries whereby a couple of attractive women will strike up a conversation with naive looking young men. It will start with them asking for a light for a cigarette and lead to some mild flirting. At some point the women will recommend a 'really cool' bar and ask the men to join them. The women will lead the men to the bar and when they arrive a round of drinks will be ordered. When the men get ready to leave and pay they will be asked to pay an extortionate bill which is normally a minimum of 200 Euros.

If you enjoyed reading this article and you found it interesting please leave a comment in the space provided at the bottom of this page.

If you would like to read more of my practical travel guides please click on one of the links below.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Robert Clarke


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)