People Reveal The Sketchy Traps Tourists Should Look Out For While Visiting Europe

Person holding passport and credit cards
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When people talk about living life to the fullest and having independent, solo experiences, they often reference the importance of traveling internationally to experience more of the world.

But in the midst of describing the wonders of traveling in another country, they fail to detail the things that could go wrong, or how a local might try to scam an unknowing and unprepared tourist.

Curious specifically about this phenomenon in Europe, Redditor subuubalaa asked:

"What should people avoid while traveling to Europe?"

The Fines Can Be Incredibly Steep

"Another thing which primarily applies to Giethoorn, but also any place in general."


"For those who don't know, Giethoorn is a small village where instead of streets there are canals. It is quite a tourist attraction where they can rent boats to travel through the canals. However, some people fail to comprehend that it's still an actual village and people live in the houses."

"It has occurred on multiple instances that tourists walked into the gardens of residents to take pictures."

- ThePotatoSauce

The Menu Should Speak For Itself

"Avoid any restaurant that tries to strong-arm you into entering."

- Kanguin

Who Knew?

"Watch out for pickpockets in Western Europe. There is a stigma that Eastern Europe like Romania and Bulgaria is dangerous but pickpocketing happens more in Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, etc."

- trustabro

Just Keep Walking

"Street scammers in Paris, anywhere really, I just mostly see it in Paris."

- missingtoothtyler

Keep an Eye on Your Stuff

"I hung my purse over the back of my chair at a restaurant on my first day in Bangkok."

"We were eating dinner and my tour guide came over to where I was sitting, and he was holding my purse. He asked if it was mine, and I said yes. Then he told me that he saw some guy take it but he was able to get it back before they left the restaurant with it."

"Turns out my guide was the 'guy' who took it to teach me a lesson. He did this to a couple of other people in our group to encourage us to be careful with our stuff. I spent the rest of the trip white-knuckling my purse so it worked for me!"

- starrfast

Your Future Looks Expensive

"In Sevilla, they hang around the cathedral. A woman will walk up and hand you a flower, then insist on telling your fortune. Just drop it and walk away."

- blitzen13

Seriously, Protect Your Belongings

"Do not put your bag/purse/backpack on the back of your chair when you sit down to eat, especially outside."

"Thieves look for this, in groups of three or four. One of them will come from one side of you as a snatcher, and the rest will stand in a group very close to you taking or smoking, etc., pretending that they don't know the snatcher."

"Then the one guy will snatch your item, and run right through the group, in case someone is quick enough to chase. They will 'accidentally' be in your way."

"Happened in Rome, but locals recognized it and broke it up."

- nctkcmo71

Instant Retaliation

"A guy tried to do the bracelet trick to me, but I knew it and told him no before he tried anything. He jabbed me in the side as I walked passed. I was so p**sed."

- Tortuga917

No Directions Needed

"Also: DO NOT STOP to 'help' people asking for directions. You're a tourist, you look like a tourist, and you're the last person someone would legitimately ask for directions."

"They're trying to get you to stop so they can pickpocket you. It's usually a woman, too, looking 'helpless.' Just keep moving."

- ThaneOfCawdorrr

Fake Disabilities

"Be careful if you encounter the fake disabled people in Venice. My dad fell into that trap. A guy pretending to have a limp and speaking disability came up to us and asked for money. I switched to Dutch and told my dad not to give him any. My dad gave him a 20 euro banknote."

"The guy walked away without a limp and started talking without issues a few meters away."

- DoctorWhoTheF**k

Try to Blend In

"Avoid letting the taxi know you don't know where you are or where you are going, the bad ones will drive you in circles and run the tab up."

"Also, one thing that opened Germany up for me while stationed there was one interaction. I would ask in German, 'Sprechen sie englisch,' do you speak English, followed by 'Mine Deutsch ist schei**e,' my German is s**t."

"Everyone from women at the bar to elderly people would laugh hysterically and then immediately switch to English in good spirits. They just like to see you try, and then they are more than happy to help you out."

"So my advice would be to learn a quick-fire phrase that you can pop off too quickly to avoid fumbling and starting the interaction on a bad foot."

- Spirited-Tadpole-508

Scamming the Scammers

"I managed to find one of the bracelets they peddle on the ground midway through my trip. Threw it on every day when I was out in public and didn’t get hounded at all after that."

"I assume they probably thought I was a fool already caught in the trap, but man, the peace of mind was great!"

- brounchman

Please Be Polite

"Don't assume that everything will be open during the hours you'd expect in your home country. This is true no matter where you're going. It varies by country and region, but in my experience, grocery stores, banks, post offices, etc., had much more restricted hours than they do in the US."

"In the US, it's rare for a grocery store to close before 9 PM, if it's not open 24 hours. In Europe, it's normal for grocery stores to close quite early, and for things to be closed on weekends, though this varies by country."

"Also, mind your manners. In America, you can often skip over the formalities without being seen as rude. In Europe, this is much harder. Be more direct about what you want, and more polite about requesting it."

"Part of what perpetuates the unfortunate 'rude American' stereotype is that Americans tend to find European manners blunt, and Europeans tend to find American manners invasive."

- frisky_husky

Stuff Can Be Taken from Anywhere

"Don't leave stuff lying around anywhere. Don't put your stuff next to you on the table if you're sitting outside at a restaurant. Someone can just run up to you from behind, grab the phone/wallet and run away."

"Don't leave stuff in a rental car."

"Don't even put stuff in the trunk of the rental car after you park it. I've heard that in some touristy places, thieves will employ local kids to sit at the parking lots and see who puts their camera, laptop, or purse in the trunk of the car before walking away."

- TheChoonk

It's All About Playing It Smart

"I've seen it in Paris, France, Barcelona, Florence... any popular tourist destination is going to have pickpockets."

"These scams vary, and you should read about them before you go so you're aware. Some of the ones I've seen:"

"1. People in costumes (mostly Roman centurions) will accost you for pictures with them, and demand an absurd amount of money for the pictures."

"2. People will shove an object or a flower into your hands and then demand money. You may have to very aggressively say 'no.'"

"3. Someone will approach you with a map and ask for directions (their accomplice is behind you while you're distracted, and helping themselves to your stuff)."

"4. Someone will lay out paintings on the ground near monuments like cathedrals, and when you inevitably step on one (because you're looking up at the Duomo, not at the ground) they'll demand an absurd amount of money for the painting you just stepped on."

"Basically, you just have to understand that if you're a tourist in a city, no one is going to have a good reason to talk to you. No one needs directions from you, no one needs a petition signature from you, and anyone trying to stop and talk to you in a major tourist destination is likely a scam."

"If you do get into a situation where someone is demanding money from you (maybe you stepped on a painting or took that ill-advised picture with the Centurion) just say, 'Okay, let's go find a police officer, and I will pay you in front of the police officer.' That usually gets them to back down quickly."

"You may have to be aggressive about not letting people touch you or put something on you. My husband had to yank his arm away from someone trying to tie a bracelet on him outside of Castel Sant'Angelo. I had to quickly move away from someone shoving a rose in my lap on the Spanish Steps."

"And also, watch your stuff. Don't absentmindedly sling your purse over the back of a chair. Don't leave your phone on the ground next to you while you have a picnic on the Seine."

"I have a black purse by PacSafe that has some anti-theft features, like a lock so I can lock it to a chair at a cafe and a lock on the zipper so it can't be easily zipped open. Sure, a determined person could break into the purse, but it's all about not being an easy target. It's enough of a deterrent that if someone does try to help themselves to the contents of my purse, it'll be too much trouble and they'll go pick someone else."

"That being said, don't let the fear of being pickpocketed deter you from traveling! Rick Steves has a story about a family that had their passports and thousands of dollars stolen from them immediately upon arrival in Amsterdam, and they still had an amazing trip. Just be aware and have a plan in case the worst happens."

- evilcaribou

A lot can happen while you're traveling, and while being stolen from or scammed could easily happen in your hometown, there's something about suddenly being without your possessions or having to pay a hefty sum of money when you're in new territory.

But as the very last Redditor in this thread pointed out, this shouldn't stop you from traveling the world! As long as you are well-prepared and stay alert, you should be able to have a wonderful journey.

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