What to be Aware of and How to Avoid them (Part 1)

April 27, 2024

Discover essential tips to avoid tourist scams.
Tune in for expert advice on safe travels and scam-free adventures.

Welcome to another episode of Vagabond Shorts.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know me as the ever-optimistic globetrotter who’s seen more airports than I’ve had hot dinners.

Today, we’re diving into a topic that’s a little different from our usual wanderlust-filled stories. It’s all about tourist scams and how to avoid them.

Now, before we get into the nitty-gritty, let me clear the air. This episode isn’t about throwing shade at the beautiful countries and vibrant cities that have given me stories for a lifetime. No, think of it more like a chat with a well-traveled buddy (that’s me!) who wants to make sure you’ve got all the insider tips to keep your travels smooth and scam-free.

You see, in my 8 years of non-stop adventure, I’ve collected not just souvenirs, but also a few stories of when things went a bit… sideways. Yes, I’m talking about those moments when I found myself on the wrong end of a scam. But hey, it’s all part of the journey, right?

So, grab your coffee, or tea, or that souvenir mug filled with something a bit stronger (I’m not judging and it’s wine o’clock somewhere) and let’s dive into some of the craftiest, most eyebrow-raising scams out there.

From the classic taxi overcharge to the not-so-magical tours that vanish into thin air, I’ve seen it all. And I’m here to share the do’s and don’ts, the how’s and why’s, and most importantly, how to keep your sense of humor intact when faced with a scammer.

Remember, it’s all about staying savvy, not scared. So, let’s explore, laugh a bit, and learn how to outsmart the tricksters and make the most of our travels. Because at the end of the day, it’s the unexpected stories that make the best tales by the campfire.

My name is Palle Bo, and this is The Radio Vagabond. “TOURIST SCAMS: What to be Aware of and How to Avoid Them – Part 1”.

The Great Distract-and-Grab Scam

This is one that span across the globe, especially thriving in the bustling streets of the world’s most crowded cities. Let me paint you a picture of not one, but two similar scams, that are so similar in their art of distraction, they could be twins separated at birth.

Imagine, you’re wandering through a vibrant marketplace, soaking in the sights and sounds, when suddenly – bam! Out of nowhere, you’re the center of attention, but for all the wrong reasons.

In the first act of this little drama, you’ve got a friendly face, or so it seems, coming up to ask you for directions or dropping something right in front of you. But it’s a setup, my friend – you’re in the middle of a classic “Distract and Grab-scam.” While your eyes are on the ball, so to speak, their partners in crime are making a quick grab for your valuables.

And then there’s the “Spill on Your Clothes” scenario. Picture this: you’re enjoying your day, minding your own business, when suddenly, a stranger bump into you and you’re wearing more of your beer than you drank. This person is all apologies and napkins, offering to help clean up the mess. But the real mess? It’s happening in your pockets. While one hand gives you cleaning aid, the other takes your wallet. Or he has an accomplish that snaps your bag from the floor.

Now, you might be wondering, how do I outsmart such a distraction trick? The answer lies in the art of awareness. Keep your belongings secured and when approached by a seemingly helpful stranger, remember this tale of the Distract-and-Grab and the Spill-on-Your-Clothes scams. A little caution and a skeptical eye can be your best defense in the world of tourist scams.

So, stay alert, stay secure, and above all, keep enjoying the adventure.

The Taxi Overcharge

And now a classic: The Taxi Overcharge!

Imagine you’ve just landed in a new city, your excitement bubbling, and you’re ready to dive into your adventure. You grab your bags, head out of the airport, and there it is – the iconic taxi, your golden ticket to the hotel or Airbnb. You hop in, ready for a straightforward ride. But oh, the plot has a twist.

Your friendly taxi driver, who’s got more tricks up his sleeve than a magician, hits the road. But this isn’t any ordinary journey. No, this road trip seems to have a detour… or five. You’re not just getting a ride; you’re getting the grand tour – the one you didn’t ask for and certainly didn’t sign up for.

As the meter ticks away, you start to realize that this ride might cost you more than your fancy dinner tonight. You’re on a scenic route that would make a GPS scratch its head. And when you finally reach your destination, the fare leaves your wallet feeling surprisingly light.

I’ve experienced that this first taxi ride often is much more expensive than what you pay once you know the rates of the country.

So, a word to the wise: when you jump into that taxi, it’s not just about where you’re going, but how you get there. Agree on a fixed price and Google what that price should be before you go. If the taxi has a meter keep an eye on it and if you have connectivity on your phone, follow along on Google Maps. If not remember that you can download an offline map on Wi-Fi before you go.

The Tale of the Disappearing Act

The last one is a story that takes us into the heart of the bustling streets, where the promise of adventure turns into a vanishing act worthy of a grand stage. This, my friend, is the legend of the “Not-So-Magical Vanishing Tours”.

You’re in a new city, eyes wide open with wonder, when you stumble upon a deal that seems too good to be true – a guided tour to all the hidden gems, those secret spots only the locals know about, and at a price that makes you think, “Wow, my lucky day!”

You hand over your hard-earned cash and get an official looking ticket, dazzled by the prospect of an unforgettable journey.

But as the day of the tour approaches, something feels off. Emails go unanswered, phone numbers suddenly don’t exist, and the friendly face that sold you the dream? Vanished, along with your money and the magical tour that was supposed to be the highlight of your trip. Poof! Gone without a trace, leaving you standing with a ticket to nowhere.

Now, how do you avoid being the guest star in this not-so-enchanting show? First rule of thumb: skepticism. Do a bit of research. Look up reviews, double-check those too-good-to-be-true offers, and maybe, just maybe, book through a reliable sources that promise more than just smoke and mirrors. Or simply insist on paying after the tour.

And if you ever find yourself tempted by a street-side vendor selling dreams of exclusive tours at bargain prices, remember the tale of the Not-So-Magical Vanishing Tours. Sometimes, the real magic lies in keeping your wallet safely in your pocket and your adventures grounded in reality.

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And that’s it. We’ve journeyed through the twists and turns of the Great Distract-and-Grab, navigated the treacherous waters of the Taxi Overcharge, and unveiled the curtain behind the Not-So-Magical Tours.

As we pack up our bags and close up the episode. And check our pockets to make sure we still have our wallets (you never know, right?), I’d like to hear from you.

Have you ever faced a scam so cunning it left you both impressed and a bit lighter in the pocket? Or perhaps you outsmarted a scammer? Let me know.

Also, if you found today’s episode on scams interesting, also give me a shout. Let me know if you want more episodes like this one where we expose scams, share insider tips, and have a laugh over the crazy stuff that happens on the road?

Drop a comment on my Facebook page or send me a message through TheRadioVagabond.com/contact. Let’s keep this conversation going.

So, until next time, safe travels and remember: If you do get scammed, your wallet might be lighter but you’re a great travel story richer.

My name is Palle Bo, and I gotta keep moving. See you.


Please tell me where are you and what are you doing as you listen to this episode? You can either send me an email on listener@theradiovagabond.com, go to TheRadioVagabond.com/Contact or send me a voice message by clicking on the banner.

Either way, I would love to hear from you. It’s so nice to know who’s on the other end of this.


A special thank you to my sponsor, Hotels25.com, who always provide me with the best, most affordable accommodation wherever I am in the world.

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