10 Travel Scams to Avoid on Beaches all over the World

17 Aug 2017 by Olga Brighton

Travel Information

We all spend months looking forward to our summer break and spending a well-earned week or two on the beach. So when we finally get there, we want to completely relax and recharge our batteries. However, be aware of the numerous travel scams targeting unsuspecting beach fans.

There are three main rules to follow before any trip you take – do some research on your destinations customs, laws and current situation on the FCO website, obtain suitable travel insurance that meets your specific requirements, and be aware of common travel scams in the location you plan visiting. We’ve collected 10 tourist scams from all around the world, and some surprising fines that can leave your wallet much thinner than you expected it to be by the end of your holidays.

1. Free Massage

Massage Bali

Where: Bali

While you’re relaxing on the beach, you are offered a massage, manicure or pedicure for free. You shouldn’t be surprised to find out that at the end of your treatment, it’s not free, and it could cost you up to 5 times more than the usual price.

What to do: Don’t fall for it. There's always free cheese in a mousetrap! Performed in unsanitary conditions, these treatments can do you more harm than good.

2. Ear cleaning

Where: India

A man comes out of nowhere claiming that you have dirt in your ears and tries to shove a long stick in your ear. If they manage to get close enough to touch you, they will even show you (pre-prepared) earwax that they will claim is yours (yuk) and you could pay $5 if you let them clean your ears on the spot.

What to do: Don’t let them get close enough to touch you! These scammers can be so persistent that you may need to give them a few coins to leave you alone.

3. Water bikes

Jet ski travel

Where: Thailand

You rent a jet ski, have lots of fun riding it and then when you come to return it the owner claims it is damaged. They suggest that you can solve this problem by paying $500 or similar. The longer you think or argue, the more people gather round to support the owner. Even the police have been known to get involved and suggest a financial compromise.

What to do: Always ensure that you hire from a reputable provider where you can read reviews, or via your tour operator or large hotel. Also, though this may not guarantee your position, openly take photos of the water bike you’re about to rent and ensure you capture any damage and scratches. If the owner isn’t willing to hire it – then you better move onto a more professional provider.

4. Smart Wristband

Where: Eastern Europe

You’ll be offered a brand new security service, a smart bracelet that will watch your kids with the help of drones and a special app to prevent them from swimming too far. Costing not that much, it may seem like a good idea. However – these are just ordinary bracelets with no special security options, so don’t risk your loved-ones safety by relying on them.

What to do: Simply decline any such offers.

Read also: 11 Common Risks to Avoid in Any Country

5. Boat Tickets

Where: Bali

If you’d like to visit Lombok, Lembongan, Gili or other island, you’d need to buy boat tickets in the harbour. The scammers will offer you tickets from the best boat company but later you will find yourself in a boat with worse conditions and facilities, from a company you don’t know. The excuse will be that other boats (better ones) are already full, or have a technical fault at that time.

What to do: Research in advance the real ticket price, and where you can purchase legitimate tickets. Read prior reviews from other travellers, or book through a reliable source. Booking in advance can also save you money, rather than waiting til the day you want to take a trip as this could cost you 2 or 3 times more.

6. Fishing

Fishing travel

Where: Eastern Europe

It’s a very common scam to be offered a fishing trip on a fantastic boat, with stunning views nearby. Don’t fall for it. You will end up paying for it, going to the arranged meeting point and you’ll find no boat and nobody to provide the day trip you have paid for. As the majority of victims find it pointless to contact the police for this relatively small sum of money, this scam is pretty common and there are a lot of people practising it.

What to do: Don’t fall for a stranger offering you a fishing trip. Use official companies only where you can check the prices, service and previous reviews.

Surprising fines: Scammers are not the only danger that can leave you out of pocket while abroad. You may find that ignorance of local laws could leave you the wrong side of the law, or subject to an on the spot fine – so check your next travel destination before you get there.

7. Building Sand Castles

Where: Venice, Spain, Germany

The local authorities in Venice consider sand castles as an obstacle (as far as lifeguards are concerned). So if you can’t resist building one – make sure it is no higher than 20 cm or you risk being fined 250 Euro. The same restrictions can be found on some Spanish and German beaches.

Fine: 250 euro

8. Using shower for anything else than showering body

Where: Majorca

If you wash fruit, picnic dishes or anything else in the beach shower be ready to pay a huge fine.

Fine: 750 Euro.

9. Reserving your spot in the sun

Beaches Italy

Where: Italy

In Italy, many of the beaches are ‘pay beaches’ – so it is not permitted to leave your towel, beach mat or umbrella on the beach to reserve your place. You will have to look for the ‘free beach’ section to do this – otherwise you must use (and pay for!) the beds and umbrellas provided. If you do leave your own towel/mat etc, you may have to pay to get your things back. There are also restrictions about female topless bathing – you can sunbathe topless, but it isn’t usually permitted to walk or swim topless.

Fine: 200 euro

10. Walking around in your swimmies!

Where: France

At la Grande Motte beach in France it is against the local by-laws to walk around in swimwear outside the beach. You have to either pay the fine or get dressed. Or, you may be offered a consolation prize (care of the local Mayor), and get a tee-shirt to put on from the enforcement authorities!

Always remember to research your travel destination and to read about all aspects of being there. Stay informed, plan your trip well and go enjoy your lovely beach holidays.

Read also: 5 First-Aid Tips for Travelling

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