EDITOR’S NOTE: To understand scams is to also understand your privilege of flying around the world to see something new, just for fun. While it’s important to be aware and you have every right to protect yourself financially, also know that you are incredibly fortunate to be traveling in nations where locals often have to hustle to stay fed. Don’t overdramatize getting burnt for five dollars here or there — it’s part of the travel experience and part of what it means to travel in areas where people are struggling.
Most of all, don’t allow your experiences to leave you jaded (or prone to generalizations) about the people you meet.
–Steve Bramucci, Editor, Uproxx Travel
Travel’s one of the best things you can do for yourself, which is one reason we are so damn enthusiastic about it ’round these parts. Unfortunately, travel isn’t sheer, unadulterated good times 24/7. There are people who prey on unsuspecting tourists, and fear of being the next person targeted keeps some people from giving into the wanderlust that thrums in their travel-loving hearts. We think this is a freaking shame because often a little research and know-how are enough to avoid negative situations.
In hopes of helping you get more out of travel, we reached out to some people we admire and follow avidly on social media: Charlie and Lauren, the couple behind the awesome travel blog Wanderers and Warriors. Raised in the same UK town, Charlie and Lauren lived parallel lives. They went to the same school and had friends in common, but never spoke to one another. Charlie was preoccupied with his family’s boxing gym and a burgeoning boxing career, and Lauren was living a traditional life that left her somewhat unfulfilled. Ultimately, Charlie was encouraged by his family to travel up the East Coast of Australia for three months, before accepting a professional boxing contract. Lauren followed by booking a spontaneous trip to Australia, finding the purpose for which she’d been searching.
When the pair crossed paths at a local shopping center in their hometown, they finally spoke, and boy, did they have a lot to talk about. They began making plans for adventures and taking small trips while in Oz, and now, their shared morals, values, and love of adventure have cemented a lasting relationship. Together the duo has traveled to Bali, Cambodia, India, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Thailand — staying for lengthy periods and creating blog posts to help fellow adventurers make the most of their time in these destinations.
When we approached them to speak with us about travel scams and how to avoid them, they graciously agreed to help. Speaking to us from Bali, Charlie and Lauren led us through a list of things for warning signs to look out for abroad (and at home). Read through them and hop in the comments with any advice you have for traveling safely.
Don’t Automatically Believe Your Accommodations Disappeared
Charlie: One of the first travel scams that comes to mind is being told your accommodation doesn’t exist. We touched down in India and got bombarded with people asking if we wanted taxis, where we were going, and what we wanted to do. We obviously told them no, we’ve already got a hotel booked. As soon as you name the hotel, they tell you, “Oh no, that one’s burnt down or…”
Lauren: “It doesn’t exist.”
Charlie: That one doesn’t exist, or bad things happen at that hotel. Yeah, it got quite bad at some point. One guy even told us, “Two tourists died at that hotel last week.”