How to avoid getting scammed at the airport in a foreign land?

Going on a vacation is exciting.

But it can be ruined easily and quickly, even before you step out of the airport. You may already know that tourists are potential victims of countless scams. But what you may not have though about is that you may fall victim to scammers once you land — at the destination airport. The thing is, you have to be careful already at the airport.

The good thing is that you can easily avoid this.

Just do a quick research about the scams and be wary of distractions.

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Monkey touching a person

Popular airport scams & How to avoid them?

Here are some of the most popular airport scams.

And also our tips on how to avoid them.

1. Be wary of distractions and pickpockets

The first rule is — be wary of distractions.

And keep a close eye on what’s going on around you and keep your belongings close by at all times. Be wary of strangers who strike up conversation. There may be this other person who meanwhile will try to get hold of your belongings.

Someone may ask for directions, leading you away from your luggage without you realising. 

If someone bumps into you, check your belongings right away, before the person has a chance to disappear.

Also be wary of distractions at the luggage carousel.

Beware of the queue-stallers!

Try not to place your belongings on the conveyor belt until you know you can walk through the scanner yourself. If you don’t see your belongings, notify the staff right away.

It is best if you treat anything unusually diverting as a pickpocket attempt.

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2. Beware of the “helpers” and the fake police officers

Beware of the airport “staff” who offer to help you get your bags to the car, only to then charge a fee for their service.

Again, it may sound awful, but it’s better to assume that it isn’t for free.

And most likely you will be charged for this.

Fake police officers are another problem. They may approach you and tell you that you have broken the law and ask to see your ID. While you can show them the ID, never give it to them. Otherwise you’ll have to pay a “fine” (which is basically a bribe) to get it back.

Both of these things are still a reality in some less developed countries.

3. Find out what the exchange rate is

Just so you can understand the prices better.

To avoid being scammed, find out what the exchange rate is before you travel. So you don’t fall for scammers' tricks and don’t end up paying much more for services.

Also, do a research and find out how much services, such as taxi, transport and prepaid SIM, cost.

4. Do not exchange money at the airport

Airport money chargers are infamous for their bad exchange rate.

Yes, you’ll find airport money changers with a good exchange rate, too, but in most situations it’s not the case. So, it is best if you exchange money in the city.

If you will need some cash right after your arrival, exchange it in your home country.

The exchange rate may be even better than there than at the airport.

Another option is to withdraw money at the airport.

Some of the best travel debit cards offer free money withdrawals abroad.

Money lying on the table

5. Be careful when exchanging (and handling) foreign currency

Be careful when exchanging money at the airports and pretty much everywhere else.

Check the exchange rate and compare it to the one of the XE currency.

Pay attention to the bank notes.

So that the clerk doesn’t switch similar notes and you don't end up with less.

Be the last one that counts the notes.

The same goes for taxi drivers. It is best to have smaller bills so you can give exact (or almost) money. If you don’t have exact money, pay attention to the change. Some taxi drivers may switch similar notes and claim that you haven’t given enough.

6. Choose the right ATM

On top of your bank fees you may get charged for withdrawal.

The simplest way to avoid ATM fees is to stick with ATMs that offer free withdrawals.

Prior to arrival find out which ATMs do not charge for withdrawal.

Some ATMs have really bad exchange rates and very high withdrawal fees.

An example — EuroNet ATMs all around Europe. Avoid them!

In order to save some money on bank fees, get yourself a good travel debit card with free ATM witdrawals abroad (or easy to understand fees). With this kind of card when you use an ATM which offers free money withdrawals, you may not pay anything extra. Or there will be a fee you are well aware of.

When you know that your bank offers great exchange rates, always choose the “Without Conversion” option, when withdrawring money abroad.

7. Find out how to get to the city

Find out how to get to the city and how much does it cost.

Find out what are the transportation scams. If there are any.

In most cases the cheapest way is to use public transport. But it’s not always an option.

If you have to use a taxi, use only reputable companies. Or book in advance. Or, even better — use ride hailing apps such as Uber, Yandex.Taxi, Grab or Bolt.

When getting in a car, insist on a meter.

Or, agree on a fixed price before starting the journey.

Thus you’ll avoid problems later on.

8. Avoid rental scams

Again, use only reputable car rental agencies.

And check the vehicle before leaving the rental place.

Inspect the car or motorbike, take photos of the existing damage.

A woman walking in airport

Use these apps for more stress-free travel.

Have a safe trip!