Seven Tourist Traps to Look Out for the Next Time You Travel Somewhere New

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Don't be the victim of these common mishaps

Picture this: It’s your first day on vacation in Rome, Italy and you just took the metro downtown. Amidst the rush of exiting the train, a stranger taps you on the back and points in a random direction. You turn around, but see nothing peculiar. Thirty minutes later, you’re opening your purse to grab your wallet and find out it’s nowhere to be seen. 

While stories of theft and robbery are common everywhere in the world, there are certainly some cities notable for the style of tourist traps they have going on. Locals know to steer away from those areas and people entirely, but for the hopeless tourist without a guide, it’s hard to know exactly what’s not worth falling for. 

If you’re still an amatuer at being a tourist, or your skills need some brushing-up, here are seven tourist traps to look out for: 


  1. Never pay for a service not yet provided


Almost all tourist traps around the world have something to do with money: you having less of it, and sketchy men on the street getting more of it. There are hundreds of examples of situations where someone might trick you to pay money upfront for a service, like accompanying you to a destination and then never showing up, or promising you an experience you didn’t really get. 


2. Always route your destination on maps before getting in a taxi 

One common element in almost all ‘tourist trap’ stories? Taxies. That’s because there are a lot of blurred lines when it comes to trusting a stranger to take you from one place to another, especially in a country whose language you don’t speak. Keep an eye on the meter, try to agree on a price upfront, ask a local how much a certain trip should typically cost, and make sure to track your route on a maps application.  


3. Don’t fall for the cheap perfume  



While they don’t exist everywhere, street vendors selling all sorts of things from cheap perfume to fake luxury eyeglasses make a living off what they do. You might be tempted to buy many of these items, thinking you’re ultimately saving money, but trust us on this, almost everything you buy from these places will immediately break, expire, or rust.  

4. You won’t get anything for free 


They’ll promise you a free vacation if you fill a questionnaire, a free shoe polish just for smiling at them, or free flowers for your lady. But rest assured, absolutely nothing is free, especially if you’re a traveler in a foreign city. 

5. Avoid unnecessary conversations 



A compliment on your scarf leads to an innocent stroll, or a chat about your family members leads to an exchange of contact numbers; things that seem innocent in context, but may result in many unfortunate incidents. Alas, one must be very wary when it comes to interacting with strangers in a place foreign to home because you might never expect what the other person has under their sleeve. 


6. Never give your address to a stranger


This might come as a no brainer to some, but you’d be surprised at the number of people who would nonchalantly give their address to someone promising them free delivery for an item or a one hour full-body massage in the comfort of their own space. Even if you’re staying at a hotel, the risks outweigh the benefits in this case, and it’s best to stay on the safe side. 

7. Mona Lisa is much smaller in real life 



Ask anyone who’s seen her live at the museum: the famous Mona Lisa portrait is a lot smaller than you imagine it to be, and that’s if you manage to spot her surrounded by hundreds of other people trying to get a closer look. This same example applies to thousands of other touristic spots, like the pyramids of Egypt where you go into dark humid tunnels to see nothing noteworthy, or paying $50 at a rooftop to see the same view you’d get somewhere else for free. Bottom line is, do your research and always keep your eyes open. 


  • Date Published: September 09, 2020
  • Written By:Razan Mneimneh