HomeBlogPress ReleasesHow to avoid the most common travel scams of 2023/2024

How to avoid the most common travel scams of 2023/2024

Written by:


Last Modified:

We’ve analysed hundreds of posts on Reddit subforums about travel, in order to discover the most frequently discussed scams you need to be aware of.

Reddit has long been a place to find useful  travel tips, with over 8 million subscribers on the r/travel subreddit alone. You can also find real value in exchanging your stories on the site.

In between the shareworthy experiences, however, you can find plenty of warnings about common tourist traps, with some of the most used words on the travel subreddit being those associated with scams, such as ‘exorbitant’, ‘hustlers’ and ‘harassed’.

Two women walk down a sunny beach.

The Most Common Travel Scams Worldwide

Taxi Driver Scams

The most common scams, according to Reddit users, relate to taxi drivers and can be found anywhere. From cabs driving away with your luggage in Miami, to drivers pretending certain streets are closed to prolong the ride in Athens, it seems that many locations have taxi scams.

Hungary appears in multiple Reddit threads as a key country to be mindful of when travelling in cabs. From charging different amounts to locals and tourists, to asking visitors if it’s their first time in the country to bump up the price of a taxi ride, the best policy is to never admit you are new in the country.

In Thailand, a common version of a taxi scam involves tuk-tuk drivers informing passengers that the attraction they’re trying to visit is closed for the day and offering to take them to a different attraction or drive them around on a tour instead. Travellers will often end up in overpriced locations, or being overcharged for the tour, when the attraction they wanted to visit was never actually closed.

‘Free’ Gifts

The ‘free’ gift scam is often found in two variations: the struggling musician and the friendship bracelet.

The struggling musician scam is most common in the United States of America. From Hollywood Boulevard to San Francisco and the Las Vegas Strip, Reddit users often warn travellers they are likely to encounter a struggling musician playing on the streets. This scam involves the musician insisting on offering tourists their CD, then guilting them into donating for the ‘free’ gift.

As for the friendship bracelet variation of the ‘free’ gift, strangers will approach travellers offering a bracelet or some form of charm, only to then demand payment. Reddit users note they have come across this scam in New York City, Paris, Chicago, Washington DC, as well as New Orleans.

Restaurant Scams

European countries see many tourists, and locations with high numbers of restaurants and bars are teeming with visitors. Italy and Greece in particular are well known for restaurant scams that involve mandatory high tips, overpriced appetisers that are delivered without being ordered, and overcharging for simple items like a glass of orange juice. In some locations, menu prices are even stated as per 100g, rather than per portion, meaning when the final bill comes, it is much higher than anticipated.

Photo Opportunities

Both in New York City and Rome, tourists are likely to find costumed people near major attractions, eager to take a photograph with them as a keepsake. Reddit users note that this is often a ruse to then ask travellers to pay for the picture they have taken.

The Kind Stranger

In China, Turkey and Japan, amongst many other countries, travellers have reported the ‘drink and chat’ scam, which tends to involve a local who befriends solo travellers, often under the guise of practising their English, and encourages them to try a bar or tea house away from the main streets. After chatting and eating, the friendly local will excuse themselves, never to return, and the tourist is left with an extremely high bill. Some Redditors even warn of restaurateurs intimidating them into footing the bill, under threat of calling the police.

Other commonly discussed travel scams include pickpocketing in crowded areas, individuals offering unsolicited help or directions who then demand payment, and more elaborate schemes involving fake tour operators or aggressive sales tactics.

How Can I Avoid Travel Scams?

Being aware of potential scams is one of the best ways to avoid them. Here are some tips to help you spot a possible scam early.

1. Look for official areas:

Particularly when in an airport, only take a ride, whether that is a taxi, Uber, or similar public transport, from the legitimate area which has official signage. Reputable taxi services will only operate out of these areas and are more likely to provide you with a fair price.

2. Settle on a fee before you take a ride:

Agree on the price of a taxi or tuk-tuk before getting in, and always check that the meter is working before starting the journey.

3. Do your own research before travelling:

While locals can be helpful, it is best to check if an attraction is closed or open before heading there. Similarly, research the menu or specific items of a higher price tag before going to a restaurant. Always check reviews and be mindful of any negative ones that are buried between suspect single word positive reviews.

4. Try to politely decline offers of gifts and walk away:

Avoid accepting any gifts from strangers, especially on crowded streets or near major attractions, regardless of how friendly or persuasive they are. The same applies to locals eager to show you a shop, restaurant, or bar away from the main streets. One Reddit user even suggests learning a few words in a lesser spoken language, such as Finnish, making it impossible for persistent con artists to communicate with you.

5. Always report any stolen items or money to the police:

You should always report illegal activity, such as having money or items stolen from you, within a 24-hour period of it taking place, obtaining a police report while you do so. This will be helpful when it comes to filing any travel insurance claims for items or money that may have been stolen.

Chris Rolland, InsureandGo CEO :

“While travel adventures await around every corner, being informed and prepared means that you can fully immerse yourself in the experience. We recommend staying aware of local customs and practices wherever you visit, so you can navigate new surroundings with confidence. Trust your instincts, and if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

“To put your mind at ease and allow you to focus on the enjoyment of your trip, remember your annual multi-trip travel insurance. That way, you can make the most of every moment, which is what holidays are all about.”


InsureandGo scraped Reddit threads including the keywords {tourist scam} and {travel scam} to find the most common scam types around the world. Scams were divided in key categories: restaurant scams, taxi driver scams, pickpockets, and ‘free’ gifts to find the most prevalent scam type. The country or region each scam was attributed to was also noted.

Google Keyword Planner was used to find the global average monthly search volumes for “scammed in {country}” in the last 12 months.

Subreddit stat sources:

Data correct as of September 2023.