Why it’s good to get scammed. Experience is almost everything in the travel game, that’s why I wouldn’t recommend anyone to travel too far off the beaten path on their first trip. There are just too many lessons to be learned before getting yourself caught up in the wilderness.
I’M A CYNIC. IF GOD HIMSELF APPROACHED ME I’D ASSUME HE WAS OUT TO GET ME
You won’t necessarily be a target because you haven’t travelled before but because of your lack of travel experience (being conned) you’ll be oblivious to the countless methods used by the conmen/women and thieves.
The difficult thing without experience is firstly knowing when you are being ripped off or even spotting these devious characters and their body language, after all during our first trips we will often have our guard down and remain fixed in holiday mode!
I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to this and when I have a random person approach me, I immediately ask myself, ‘what do they want, is this a scam?’ Yes, it isn’t always the best way to travel and I have wrongly considered a normal person to have an ulterior motive when their intentions were good but in general it has stood me in good stead. But don’t expect them to give in at the first sign of you pushing back, they are persistent, often using different techniques depending on your actions.
- Keep your valuables zipped in a separate compartment in your bag.
- Avoid having a lot of valuables on you or in your pockets.
- Ensure you agree a price before and pay only once the service has been provided.
- Do not walk away with random people to a place unknown.
- Keep your bags on you at all times. Your valuable bag to your front.
- Padlocked bags are not as secure as you might think.
- Keep your valuable bags on your knee during taxi, buses and train rides.
- If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Why it’s good to get scammed.
I find the hardest thing is arriving in a new country and receiving change for the first time. There is a good chance you’ll receive a wad of fake coins that you won’t be able to shift. It’s so common that even my taxi driver in Burkina Faso was handed some until he told the vendor to catch himself on. After 2 years of travel I wouldn’t have known this was even a thing until I experienced it.
Another example was at the Zoo in Ouagadougou, the worst zoo in the world. The ladies at the desk were adamant that my guide doesn’t get free entry (that’s how it works here, your guides entry is always free). They continued to make it clear it was either pay the fee or no entry. Eventually after a shouting match it my guide was allowed entry free of charge. This might sound unusual for us in the west but the benefit is that the guides bring this attractions more business this way.
Anytime I have come across a scam it has always been a battle of mind games and has never gotten aggressive or physical. That is not the style of conmen, they are there to gain your trust and that is a sure-fire way to lose that and create unwanted attention. I hate to say that nearly all conmen come across as friendly but its true, they can be incredible pleasant but do not let this get in the way of meeting genuine locals who are keen to help. If they wanted to get aggressive, they would have robbed you from the start and even after 10 years of travelling I have never been robbed in that way.
IT WILL HAPPEN
Depending on where you go, you could witness or experience this countless times through the day. There have been many instances were it is impossible to learn of such techniques until you have been victim to one, so it’s best to accept that sooner or later you will fall for the tricks but unless you are naive and handover huge amounts of money it is rarely anything that will ruin a trip. However, after such, expect to travel smarter as you’ll know what to look out for and that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
So the fact is; getting scammed or conned is all part of the learning curve and HAPPENS TO US ALL! I struggled to forgive myself the first time it happened as I was always so careful but it was the only way I would learn of the holes in my armour and proved to be a valuable lesson that I was happy to learn.
It’s never easy to be told that travelling is safe but also expect to be scammed at some point. It’s impossible to pick up on all the weird and wonderful techniques used without actually being a mark.
SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
Check out my YouTube for some up close and personal encounters with scammers.
- Have you been conned or scammed?
- What happened?
- How do you keep yourself safe?
Let me know in the comments below . . .