With a shattered economy everyone is looking for a deal, but often, prices really are too good to be true.
Travel scams are more elaborate than ever. A traveler can be scammed before they even set foot on a plane. Even a veteran traveler could be prone to falling for these schemes.
Often when traveling the best way to avoid a scam is to use common sense, follow your gut and ask questions. Skipping the fine print on a travel deal could be disastrous.
Knowing what to look for can help you navigate the murky world of travel scams. Here are eight of the most popular travel scams to look out for.
Hidden Fees and Low Prices
This is an easy scam that even veteran travelers can fall for. Always read the fine print! Major airlines are even a large offender of this, offering fare sales as low at $39. Read the fine print to find this sale is for one-way, off-peak, and only for a specific destination, making it not so much of a deal for most travelers. Also make sure to check if baggage is allowed as airlines often charge an additional fee for check bags.
Often spring breakers and cruise goers can capitalize on an all-inclusive trip, but it's important to note what's actually included. Many college students fall prone to this when looking for the cheapest trips without doing real research. Make sure to note if certain restaurants or drinks are left off the all-inclusive.
In many cases consumers will first get a phone call saying that they won a free trip or flight then will ask the person to go to a convention center to learn more about getting the discount vacation. The club will take down credit card information and soon consumers will be paying upwards $200 for a membership. Only problem is the so-called discounts are usually the same prices listed elsewhere. For those who want to be the first to know deals, sign up directly with airlines or hotels to be on their email lists.
Airport Baggage Carriers
Sometimes it's best to suck it up and carry your own luggage when arriving off a plane. Oftentimes people will offer to carry luggage (or worse just grab it) then ask for inflated prices. There are also cases of carriers grabbing the luggage and bolting for the door. It's best to either carry luggage personally or have it picked up by your hotel.
Free Flight Trips
Many companies will give away free trips. These trips are often given away for viewing timeshares or other vacation getaways. The catch with these trips is that the airfare is free, but travelers are locked into staying at specific resorts. The resorts can often be the most expensive and out of the way.
That mark that proves the jewelry is really gold or silver...highly unlikely. Common sense is best used when buying jewelry from street vendors. Bangkok, Thailand is just one of the few places notorious for selling knock off gems. One red flag is if a person or taxi driver approaches a tourist to take them on a tour or to a place to get gems. Most likely they are getting a commission.
This is one scam that is worldwide. Often cab drivers will greatly increase prices for foreigners. Try to stick to metered taxis, especially in areas you aren't familiar with. In many rural and developing countries, taxi prices are calculated by bargaining. Speak in the country's native language to get the best price or ask a local what the average price for your trip is. In many countries there are more reliable taxi companies, so if you find one, stick with the same company throughout a trip. Also, make sure to have all bags and belongings when leaving the cab, as your loss may be their gain.
The Clever Pickpocketer
Pickpocketers certainly have one thing, creativity. Often pick-pocketers work in teams to create elaborate distraction while the other is digging into your pocket or backpack. In a second, they are gone. There are countless tales of pickpocketing scams from flirtatious women distracting men to the hot-dog trick (victim is accidentally squirted with mustard to cause distraction), both will notice later their wallet is missing. So, how do travelers protect themselves? For men, it's best to keep their wallet in the front pocket, rather than the back. For those with backpacks, don't keep anything valuable in front pockets. There are even travel belts that can be worn under clothes to keep some cash stored away.