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Five ways to avoid scams and thieves on holiday

Tourist areas around the world (and at home) are hot spots for thieves and when you’re unfamiliar with your surroundings it is easier to fall for a holiday travel scam.

holiday scam
Long Bay Beach, Turks and Caicos Islands. Photo by Deanna Ritchie

Wherever you are, for however long, here are my top five tips to prevent yourself being fooled…

Exchanging money 

Try to make sure you do this before you go so you know you’re safe. The Post Office or Marks and Spencer are the places I always go.

If you do it abroad then be careful you’re not being scammed. Make sure you count your money and figure out roughly how much you should be getting. You’ll probably end up with less but make sure they don’t try to “miscount” the money.

holiday scam

Beware of distractions

This applies to any city or busy area whether you’re on holiday or not as its common for thieves to work together so that one can distract you while the other picks our pockets. Always have your bag in your hands or on your front and don’t give your phone to somebody just because they have offered to take a photo — look for a family instead. If somebody asks you for directions make sure you remain aware of your surroundings.

Be extra vigilant on nights out

You’re much more likely to fall for a travel scam when you’ve been drinking so make sure you stay with friends. Never put your drink down out of sight and make sure you all have the address of where you’re staying – don’t just put it in your phone in case you lose it or it gets stolen!

When you’re on a night out make sure you know the price of what you’re ordering so that you aren’t handed a huge bill once you’ve finished your drinks.

Make sure you use registered taxis

If you’re not sure how much you should be charged make sure you haggle before you get in or that they have a meter, this is an easy and common travel scam.

Also beware of their suggestions, they might be getting paid to bring tourists to places that aren’t worth your time. Stick to your plans! Also if they try to tell you somewhere is closed or full and you haven’t booked, it doesn’t mean that’s true – again they might be benefitting for taking you somewhere else and you’ll have no idea what you’re getting.

Remember, stick to your plans and its good practice to have your own plan b.

Check it is a verified travel agent or ticket seller

When buying transport tickets, attraction passes or booking excursions with a travel agent make sure you do your research or ask your hotel to help you. Don’t just wander into the first one you see as you might get ripped off!

What are your biggest travel tips?

See more travel ideas here.


holiday scam


  1. March 20, 2018 / 11:22 am

    Good tips. When I’m exchanging money I make my life easier by changing 100 and have more cash for what I’m buying.

    • mattielaceydavidson
      March 20, 2018 / 11:27 am

      Holidays are the only times I actually carry cash. Hopefully cards will be the easiest option soon x

  2. March 20, 2018 / 2:01 pm

    Some fantastic tips and it is so important to stay safe when you are on holiday. Exchanging money before you go is a fab idea and had a range of notes too xx Sim

    • mattielaceydavidson
      March 21, 2018 / 10:54 am

      Yess to the range of notes! I also think it’s important to get to grips with the exchange rate. When I was in Budapest a few years ago I kept trying to pay for things with massive amounts of money because the rates confused me so much haha

  3. March 20, 2018 / 2:49 pm

    Great tips, Mattie. I agree with them all. We exercise most of these when we holiday in the UK too. 🙂

    • mattielaceydavidson
      March 21, 2018 / 10:53 am

      Yes as I was writing it I remembered that it is anywhere in the world, including your home town!

  4. March 20, 2018 / 3:14 pm

    Great tips here, I’ve been a culprit of dodgy taxis in New York and learnt my lesson. Also heard some horrendous stories of people being robbed abroad, always best to be vigilant! 🙂

  5. March 21, 2018 / 1:13 am

    Great advice – I remember visiting different countries while backpacking and feeling like people were trying to scam us all the time. The dodgy taxis thing – I think we have all been there! We also used to see a lot of dodgy and unofficial tourist guides who would wait outside attractions telling you that you can only go in if you pay them. Thankfully we were always wise enough not to fall for that!

    • mattielaceydavidson
      March 21, 2018 / 10:51 am

      I don’t know what people did before the internet! I only knew to be wary of things when I went away because of research.

  6. March 21, 2018 / 3:55 pm

    Great tips. I love travelling and I spent 3 months travelling solo around South America a few years ago and I can absolutely vouch for these tips. Another one is when you’re out, don’t carry more money than is necessary – enough for what you’re doing and some treats, plus some stashed separately for emergencies.

    Kat x

    • mattielaceydavidson
      March 21, 2018 / 4:07 pm

      That’s a really good tip! My other half always tries to walk out of the hotel with all our money and passports in his pocket and I have to remember to stop him!

  7. March 21, 2018 / 8:21 pm

    Great tips, if can be a real worry when you’re traveling that you’re going to get scammed. We went to Egypt a few years ago and there were lots of dodgy people around trying to get money from us and we were told to never get in a taxi unless booked through the hotel. These are really useful tips for anyone planning a holiday xx

  8. March 21, 2018 / 9:52 pm

    Great tips, the distraction technique is horrible isn’t it and people are just trying to have a nice holiday

  9. March 21, 2018 / 11:45 pm

    Some very good tips here. One tip my dad gave me is to only ever use taxis at official taxi ranks, e.g. when arriving at an airport or train station, and not to go with anyone who comes up to you and says they have a free taxi. No matter how tempting it may be to slip the taxi rank queue.

    • mattielaceydavidson
      March 22, 2018 / 10:16 am

      That is a good tip!! Thanks for sharing x

  10. Siobhan McLoughlin
    March 23, 2018 / 6:19 am

    These are great tips! I don’t go abroad very often but will definately have to keep these in mind! xx

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