They say people have an innate inclination to avoid trouble — we call this instinct or gut feeling. And when your instincts tell you to avoid that shady person looking at you on the bus, you do it, right?
This is what we’ve always done when we’re commuting to work, and this is certainly invaluable when we’re out travelling the world. Even seasoned globetrotters can fall victim to scammers and ‘no-good doers.’
Getting scammed happens to the best of us, so it is extremely important that we are vigilant while we’re out experiencing the world.
Here’s a rundown of common travel scams to help you prepare for them before you go on your trip.
You might’ve already come across really cheap tour packages that cover hotel accommodation and tickets to museums and amusement parks in popular places like Penang or Kuala Lumpur.
While there are a lot of packages that are genuinely affordable, there are a lot of sketchy deals making the rounds online. So if travel packages look too good to be true, do some research first before booking a deal.
Note that even online scammers spend money on social media ads as well.
When making reservations, booking directly on hotel websites is still the best and safest option.
For instance, if you’re planning a Penang trip, visit the Vouk Hotel Suites website to get exclusive discount deals on your accommodation. For tours, you can contact the hotel for partner tour guide companies and ask for recommendations.
Tourists are a magnet for ill-intentioned gangs. Their most common modus is to give lost tourists the wrong directions so that they can corner them and rob them.
One of the best ways to thwart this is to avoid getting too much attention. You might think this is difficult to do especially if you look nothing like the locals, but there are ways not make people do a double-take.
For instance, if you must consult a large map, always step to the side or get inside a secured shop. Avoid talking loudly about getting lost. And if your map isn’t doing you any favours, ask tourist stalls, shop owners, or the police for directions.
Malfunctioning taxi metres
The Broken Taxi Metre trick is the oldest modus in the playbook because it’s still very effective. When a passenger gets in a cab, the driver will tell them that the metre is broken.
Other people will ask the driver to stop so they can get out and look for another cab, but there are those who will let it slide. Then after the passenger has been dropped off, they will be charged a ridiculous price.
Of course, not all cabs with broken metres are out to scam tourists, but it’s to best to just be careful and find another cab.
You probably already know what this is since this is also a commuter’s reality. This is when a person ‘accidentally’ bumps into you, only to realise too late that your wallet or watch has been stolen.
However, this trick has evolved into accidental drink spills, strangers who say there’s a mysterious gunk on your back, and so on. If you experience this, the first thing you do is to secure your belongings.
It’s easy if you’re travelling with a companion, you can just ask them to look after your things. However, if you’re travelling alone, make sure everything is in your pocket or in your bag.
You might want to consider keeping all your stuff in a backpack and not in your pockets, then padlock them. If a stranger offers to wipe that mystery gunk or that accidental spill, politely turn them down and do it by yourself in the nearest restroom.
Dubious good Samaritans
Yes, it’s rude to assume that every kind person you’ll meet during your trip is suspicious good Samaritans, but you should still remain alert all the time.
Observe how strangers are acting while they are helping you. If they are too touchy, that’s a red flag. But if they ask if you need help and give you space to move around, that means they’re well-intentioned.
Make sure to keep these common travel scams in mind during your trip, especially if it’s a city like Penang or Kuala Lumpur. Always be alert and take extra precautions so you can enjoy your travels, worry-free.