It’s been a long time since we’ve been away on a holiday, for most of us anyway, and you don’t want that special occasion to be tarnished and ruined by possible criminal activities conducted at your expense.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit us hard. Either we’ve experienced personal headache and grief or been badly affected by the guidelines and restrictions that have been put in place to avert the spread of COVID-19.
Basically we’ve been housebound for a long time and that’s a tough situation to live in, even more so if you are part of a family unit that has run out of ways to pass the time (there’s only a certain amount of jigsaws you can complete before you lose your mind).
Traditionally a family, or individual, holiday was our way of dealing with a busy work and life schedule, a way to hit reset and to relax and unwind. It’s something most of us do at least once a year, so for many of us the past year and a half have been incredibly frustrating.
Now, however, things are starting (slowly) to return to normal and the travel industry is starting to rebuild and you may well be thinking about your next break. Even though that break may involve having to have numerous tests prior to departure, and some issues in relation to movement and activities you may take part in when you get to your destination, it’s something you will no doubt be eagerly awaiting.
The last thing you need then is to have your long-planned for holiday left in ruins, like those Greek monuments you wish to visit, and in order to help you stay ahead of the scammers we’ve put together a few handy tips to keep you and your family safe.
Don’t Travel With Your Valuables
The most common form of physical ‘scam’ is the ‘bump and grab’, and usually leads to your bag being stolen. Clearly this is already a real issue but if that bag contained your passports as well as your wallet and valuables, then you are in trouble.
It’s best to leave as many of your valuable items in a safe in your hotel, this will help minimize the resultant problems that come from having your belongings stolen. You wouldn’t want to see your real name necklace taken from you on the first day of your long awaited trip!
Avoid Dodgy Looking ATMs
Being in a ‘strange’ country means that there are potential pitfalls at every turn and while many of these are perceived, as opposed to be genuine reasons for concern, some are very much obstacles to avoid. When it comes to withdrawing money, firstly try to do this as rarely as possible. Try instead to use a credit card, preferably one that has a solid level of security and insurance behind it.
If you do have to use an ATM, choose brands that are universally known, as opposed to ramshackle ATMs that don’t appear to be affiliated to a genuine bank.
The ‘Local’ Who Is Trying to Help
This is another common scam and one that has been honed over the years, almost to a fine art form. It usually works like this. A complete stranger will come up to you, perhaps with the apparent intention of asking you an innocent enough question. On finding out that you are tourists, they will then attempt to ‘help’ you, perhaps with finding a particular landmark.
On the way, or perhaps after helping you, they may suggest you visit a great shop or store, but you really need to avoid doing so. This tends to be an overly aggressive sales pitch, leading to the individual demanding you buy something from the vendor.
The Taxi Scam
Firstly, try to avoid using unlicensed taxis entirely. This can be harder to do in countries where it’s not instantly obvious who is licensed and who is not. You can help avoid this issue by ordering a taxi via your hotel, which should lead to the use of a reliable driver. Similarly you can ask the hotel concierge how much a specific trip should cost, and then quote this to the driver you use.
Offering Free Gifts and Trinkets
Another age-old scam. You are walking along a busy thoroughfare, enjoying the sites and sounds and soaking in the atmosphere. All of a sudden you're accosted by an individual, or sometimes a group, offering a free item (usually a bracelet or flowers) and then one of two things will occur.
If you are wise to the scam, you may attempt to just ignore and push away the gift that’s violently pushed in your direction. Hopefully this brings the scam to an end, though more often than not just leads to an extended interaction, which sometimes leads to brazen pickpocket attempts.
Alternatively you take the ‘free’ gift and then are pressured into paying for it. The only real escape from this scam is to be firm. Refuse the gift and walk past, be confident in doing so. If this doesn’t work, simply threaten to report them to the police, or indeed look for relevant authorities in the vicinity.
Be On Your Guard, But Don’t Let Fear Ruin Your Holiday
These are the common scams that occur when you are on holiday but don’t let the possibility of these events affect the enjoyment of your trip. Yes, it’s likely that there will be an occasion or two where someone will try to purloin you for a few dollars, usually this is not done in an aggressive way and all in all you needn’t let this affect the enjoyment of that holiday you’ve waited so long for and one you richly deserve.
Be smart and alert and you’ll be just fine. Avoiding most of these scams boils down to common-sense behavior and doesn’t require you to be overly protective, but more a case of being vigilant and prepared.