6 Common Travel Scams Every Tourist Should Know About


A vacation is an exciting experience no matter where you decide to go. But scammers can quickly turn it into a nightmare if you don’t watch out. Each year, a significant percentage of Americans get tricked into some form of fraud while booking their travels or enjoying their vacation in the US and abroad.

So, if you want to make your time away a memorable one for all the good reasons, it is time you learn about common travel scams every tourist must know. Here is our list of the top six frauds sapping the joy out of travelers.

  1. Online Booking Scams

Three in ten US adults have (or know someone who has) fallen for a scam while attempting to save money with an online travel booking.

Digital fraud often soars during peak tourist seasons when travelers go hunting for bargains. Discounted deals and promotional communications are common bait criminals use to woo shoppers to fraudulent sites.

They could also deploy spoofing techniques and website hacking to target victims without raising suspicion.

Many online scams are designed to steal credit card information. Some, however, are aimed at stealing personally identifiable information (PII)—from passport details to social security numbers—to commit identity theft.

So, how can you protect yourself from these vicious scams? Staying clear of unknown websites is rule number one. Making your bookings at reputed sites will provide a safety net against shady activities. For instance, trusted platforms like Cabinns and Airbnb offer secure bookings and curate experiences with a keen eye for detail and a relentless commitment to quality.

Moreover, avoid links shared in promotional emails, messages, and ads. Instead, use verified web addresses you have already bookmarked or found online. This practice will help protect you from untrustworthy websites.

  1. Pickpocketing

This is perhaps the oldest crime in the book when it comes to travel scams.

Pickpocketers get busy at tourist attractions, public transportation, and anywhere else with large crowds of people. They could steal your wallet while you are commuting on a busy subway or may even walk away with your valuables by distracting you with an unexpected commotion.


Remaining alert is critical for protecting yourself from these unscrupulous individuals. Keep a close eye on your wallet when moving through crowds. Traveling light without carrying personal belongings of value is another smart option.

  1. Friendly Strangers

When on vacation, you will meet and make friends with locals and tourists who help enrich your travel experience. They may direct you to less-explored sites, help you maneuver unfamiliar cultures, and might even end up being life-long friends.

But friendly strangers could be scammers in disguise. And if you are not careful, they could get you into serious trouble.

Here are a few ways you could encounter such con artists:

● On your way to a popular attraction, a friendly local approaches you and informs you it is closed. They then suggest another site, which pays them a commission to bring in tourists.

● A nearby traveler offers to take your photo at a popular monument. Feeling grateful, you hand them your camera. But the moment you turn around, they disappear with it.

● You are waiting in a queue to purchase tickets for an attraction. A friendly stranger presents discounted tickets so you can walk straight in without wasting time. But when you get to the entrance, you discover that the tickets you just purchased are fake.

● A tourist you have made friends with at a hostel asks you to carry a few parcels in your luggage since theirs is over the allowed baggage weight. Without suspecting anything, you agree to help. Little do you realize that you have become an accomplice in transporting illegal drugs.

To prevent such incidents, get into the habit of verifying information without hastily accepting what strangers tell you.

Moreover, follow standard processes and guidelines provided for tourists when they explore unfamiliar destinations. Do your homework before you set off on your vacation, and seek advice from travel officials when in doubt. And if you want to learn more about someone you have made friends with, a background check on Nuwber and a social media search are excellent options to quickly find information.

  1. Taxi Meter Scams

If you don’t pay close attention, dishonest cab drivers can dupe you in countless ways.

For instance, when they know you are new to the city, they may take longer routes to overcharge you. Or they could pretend to forget to turn on the meter and charge you extra after taking you to the destination. When you are dealing with a foreign currency, things can get further complicated, creating more room for cab drivers to rip you off.

So, before you get into a taxi, whether at home or abroad, check the meter and ensure it is on. If the driver claims the meter is not working, negotiate the fare. If you feel uncomfortable dealing with them, don’t hesitate to get into another cab. Familiarizing yourself with the local currency and regular travel costs is another important measure when vacationing abroad.

  1. Rental Fraud

Deceptive rental companies can con you by billing for pre-existing damages when you rent cars, bicycles, and recreational equipment.


You can avoid these scams by checking beforehand for dents, scratches, and similar damages. If you notice anything, point it out immediately. Take photos and put them on record in the rental agreement.

  1. Shady Photographers

These deceitful actors usually hang out near popular monuments and attractions. They would pretend to be the site’s official photographer and insist they take your photograph as a souvenir. But once they do, they will demand payment for their services.

So, the next time someone offers to take your photo, politely refuse and walk away. If they continue to follow you, seek help from a site official.

Wrapping Up

A single unpleasant experience can ruin your entire vacation. Therefore, you must watch out for prevalent scams if you want to ensure a peaceful and enjoyable time off. Be especially vigilant about online booking scams. Pickpocketing, rental scams, deceptive strangers, shady taxi drivers, and fraudulent photographers are also common around tourist destinations.