Travel Scam 101
You're sure to meet friendly locals and enjoy warm hospitality on the road – that's the spice of travelling life. However, as at home, not everyone is as genuine as they seem. There are many slick operators out there, not to mention the outright criminals.
Sensible Sanchez highlights some of the more common traps for young players here in Travel Scams 101...
If someone buys you a drink, watch them get it from the bar and deliver it to you, or better yet, go to the bar with them. It’s not unknown for travellers to be drugged unwittingly and end up lost and alone with all their gear gone.
Petty thievery is more common than you might think, and if you look like an obvious tourist, you may as well have a target on your forehead. Keep your wallet or purse with you at all times, and distribute your money and cards around your body. It’s a good idea for men not to keep their wallet in the usual back pants pocket, as that is another easy target.
Check the seals of your drinking water
If you have purchased bottled water, check that there is a proper seal or that the packaging is intact. Some places have been known to sell recycled bottles that have merely been filled up with tap water.
Beware of the black market
If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. You might be buying souvenirs that are not authentic, and with electronics, DVDs, high fashion or other consumer goods, they may be bootlegged, knock-off or stolen goods.
Carry your own gear
Never agree to carry anything back home for anybody. You don't know what you could be carrying with you – like drugs or other prohibited or dangerous material. Be wary of accepting 'gifts' that may contain contraband substances, and don’t cross borders or go through Customs with strangers.
You get what you pay for
Always travel with a reputable tour company so you know that you'll get what you pay for and your safety will be of primary concern. Travelling with a dodgy operator could see you stranded, injured, sick, or at the very least you may end up visiting or dining at establishments run by the tour guide's equally dodgy family members.
Don't take the advice of overly-friendly taxi drivers or local hawkers. If they can encourage you to part with your money, there's often a financial kick-back from their friends at the hotels, shops and ticket offices. If you're just looking for a cheap bed in a hostel for a night this might be ok ... but if you're coughing up thousands to buy precious gems in Bangkok, beware!
What's your best travel scam story?
There are endless ways in which con artists will try and get you to part with your cash or belongings - and new scams come along all the time. Leave us a comment about what happened to you...
And finally, whilst we offer tips for your safety, please be aware that you need to make decisions based on your own circumstances and the local laws and customs of the countries you will visit.