3 Travel Scams Seniors Should Avoid

One of the joys of senior living is the opportunity to travel. You have the time and the luxury to enjoy things, but unfortunately, things don’t always go as plan. Relaxing vacations can turn stressful very quickly if you find yourself scammed, so it is always better to keep your wits about you. Here are some travel tips to keep in mind as you go on vacations to stay safe and avoid getting ripped off.

1. Always keep an eye on the taxi

This is a very common scam across a lot of different regions but yet it endures. Cab drivers will very often try to scam you, either by not running a meter at all or if there is one, it runs incredibly fast. There are a few things you can do to avoid this scam:
  • Ask the hotel before you get in the taxi about how much the trip will cost
  • Ask the taxi driver upfront how much it will cost (or at least a rough estimate) and if their meter is working
  • Use Google Maps or GPS to estimate the time and the route. Even if you do not have internet access, you can download maps before you leave for offline access.
If you have internet access, use Google Maps for the route so you can see if they are purposely taking a longer/inefficient route. If they refuse to turn on their meter after you’ve gotten in the taxi, ask them to pull over and leave. They will either get upset and turn on the meter (rather than losing the fare) or they will get angry and let you out.

2. Avoid free gifts

Unfortunately, nothing in life is free. This is more common in smaller European cities but it seems to be making its way into other places as well. The scam is simple. Someone comes to you with a small trinket like a bracelet. They will put it on you, maybe offer you a sprig of rosemary and as you begin to admire your new free souvenir, they begin to demand money. And when you refuse, they cause a scene. Two things to note here. Don’t accept the free gift, no matter how tempting or charming it is. It really is not worth the headache. Secondly, even if you do make the mistake of accepting it, do not give them money. Return it, and go back to what you were doing. They may cause a scene, but that’s simply to embarrass you into giving them something. Don’t give in. What are they going to do, report you to the police? They’ll stop and move on.

3. Don’t advertise that you’ve left your room

Scammers aren’t always out and about. Sometimes, they have their own spots that they stake out looking for the perfect opportunity. One such opportunity? An empty hotel room. While this is mostly a risk in regions such as southeast Asia, it still bears discussion no matter where you are. Advertising that your room is empty, even if done unintentionally, leaves too much room for someone to come in and take things. For example, the ‘please clean my room’ sign tends to be a dead giveaway that this person is gone for the day. And since most people know how to jimmy locks, it becomes way too easy. To avoid this, here are some simple tips:
  • Call the front desk before leaving if you need the room cleaned while you’re gone (or just don’t put the sign out, cleaning staff will do their regular rotations anyway)
  • Ask for a room near the elevator since the increased foot traffic can deter any thieves
  • Avoid ground-floor windows where it’s easy to enter from the window.
These are just some of the scams that seem to be increasingly common, especially among seniors. Almost all vacations go well but it never hurts to keep your wits about you. These are just some tips to help you keep safe during your holiday so you can have a worry-free trip and enjoy the adventure!