It’s true enough that tourism is big business, as travelers do tend to spend a lot and carry more cash on their person, and some may tend to take advantage of that in unethical practices or even illegal ways. Here are some ways to avoid backpacker and tourist scams and shelling out more money than you should.
Beware of “special” prices. Just because you’re a tourist doesn’t mean you should have to pay more for the same service that every other local gets. For instance, some taxi drivers do take advantage of tourists by charging more. Prague taxi drivers are renowned for scamming tourists. You can avoid this from happening by learning how to get around using the local transportation system, while avoiding taxis as much as possible.
Not far from traders who overcharge are those who shortchange their customers. Beware of vendors who create distractions or count too slowly so that you become impatient and hurriedly leave the store without counting your change. Also, when using ticket machines at rail stations, pay the exact amount, as some are not designed to give back change.
When using a credit or debit card, keep an eye on your card and the person handling it. Remember that one swipe should be all it takes; two might mean you paid twice for one bill. Also, look around for inexpensive places to buy food and other necessities. A place that is promoted to be for tourists has much higher prices than the next food establishment that offers a similar menu.
A higher level of cautiousness and situational awareness is necessary when you’re a tourist trying to make it to the next hostel without losing your belongings. Generally, it would be wise to raise your alertness level when around a lot of people or even in secluded areas. Thieves may come as helpful locals, or as seemingly honest people who just need a little help, then attack when they’ve gained your trust.
When a stranger warns you to watch out for pickpockets and such, avoid reaching for your wallet to check if it’s still there. There have been incidents where those who warn tourists about thieves are the thieves themselves: they count on the potential victim’s instinctive reaction to locate the target — their wallets.
To avoid losing much and ruining your vacation, it’s best to avoid attracting a scammers attention. Keep within reach only an amount of money that you’ll be using for food and transportation, so that you can avoid flaunting your wads of cash to potential muggers. Avoid wearing jewelry, and be in the company of friends or fellow travelers as much as possible. Also, be sure to make eye contact when a stranger is in close proximity or gets in your way, as a way of saying that you will remember them in case they try something awful.
In this sense, being well informed about your destination before leaving home proves useful. Know where to get the best deals, the parts of town to stay away from, and the usual price range for the things you’ll need to purchase during your trip.