It"™s finally time for the vacation you"™ve been planning for months. You"™ve saved up money, packed your suitcase, and forwarded your mail. Nothing can kill your vibe at this point except for one little thing "¦ a travel scam.
Whether you"™re in an airport or on the streets of Rome, there"™s always a scammer lurking to take advantage of your good-hearted tourist nature. To protect your wallet and what"™s inside of it, here are some popular scams to look out for the next time you travel.
Tie me up
Where: Paris and Rome
Scam: As you"™re walking near the famous Sacre Coeur or Spanish Steps, a charismatic man strolls up to you and starts a conversation. Before you know it, he"™s tying a bracelet around your wrist or finger and double-knotting it better than a Boy Scout. Then he demands payment. Of course, you can say no. But if you do, he"™ll scream that you are stealing his bracelet and embarrass you in public. Most tourists give in to the pressure and pay just to prevent a scene.
Tip: Don"™t get too close. If someone is being superfriendly, you have the right to be suspicious. And if he or she gets close enough to put a bracelet on your wrist, don"™t be afraid to just walk away.
Putting mustard on a hotdog looks so innocent"¦(Thinkstock)
Where: Airports and train stations
Scam: This scam comes in many different forms. One is the "hot dog trick," whereby a stranger accidentally squirts mustard on you while eating a hot dog. As he apologizes and tries to help you clean up, an accomplice grabs your bag and slips away. Another form of this scam involves an old lady falling in a public place. As everyone runs to her assistance, her partner swoops up as many bags as he can carry and disappears.
Tip: Whether you"™re sitting or standing, always be in contact with your bags. Keep a hand on your carry-on, or place it between your legs, if you want to keep it from going missing.
Security line switch-up
Make sure there is no cutting in the security line at the airport. (Thinkstock)
Scam: Picture this: You"™re about to walk through a metal detector when the person behind you cuts ahead of you. Annoyed, you let him go, but your frustration builds as he repeatedly sets off the alarm. He"™s forgotten to remove his watch and loose change, so he is holding up the line. What you don"™t know is that on the other side, his accomplice has snagged your belongings and is already in another terminal.
Tip: Wait until the last moment to put your stuff on the conveyor belt; this way no one can slip in front of you. Also, keep an eye on your stuff if you get held up at the metal detector. If you see some fishy business, alert the TSA agent…