‘I’m a travel expert and I know the reason scammers target tourists’

Travel is never completely risk-free. Even when tourists take lots of precautions, they could still be the victim of a pickpocket or scammer.

In fact, one of Europe’s leading city destinations is the spot where tourists are most likely to be pickpocketed.

However, there are a few precautions solo travellers can take to avoid attracting the attention of a scammer.

Abi Hanks, travel expert at StudentUniverse, shared a few of her tips for solo travellers heading overseas next year.

She said: “Rather than wandering aimlessly looking lost, plan ahead. Use all of the tools at your disposal to make a plan but don’t forget to strike up a conversation with hotel or hostel staff as well as fellow travellers too.

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“They will all have suggestions of the must-see sites, and you may even uncover some hidden gems that the online guides have missed.

“If you’re out and about and find yourself standing like a lost lemon in the street, you’re unfortunately more at risk of unwanted attention from a scammer trying to take advantage of you.

“So, if in doubt, walking with gumption goes a long way to making you look like you are a local. Even if you feel completely lost, strut like you walk there every day, find a coffee shop, sit down and make a plan.”

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Tourists that look lost or are constantly checking their phone could be targeted by malicious scammers. It’s a good idea to check the route before setting out to see a landmark.

Local residents will often have the best tips for travellers so it’s always a good idea to ask hotel staff for advice if tourists are unsure where to go.

Abi added: “Whether it’s the offer of a group photo by the Eiffel Tower, only for your new photographer friend to sprint away holding your phone or forgetting to ask for a quote for a cab journey and being charged five times the going rate, an unfamiliar location often comes with the risk of scammers and pickpockets.

“It’s worth researching the experiences of fellow solo travellers ahead of time, if there are any destination specific scams to look out for, they will have the best advice on what to watch out for and crucially how to avoid being victimised.”

Scammers are innovative and regularly change how they target holidaymakers. Anyone who thinks they’ve been the victim of a scammer should contact the police if appropriate or ask their holiday provider for advice.

Classic holiday scams include the ‘bird poo scam’ or overcharging tourists for the use of a taxi.

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