There's nothing quite like traveling to your dream destination only to discover it populated by opportunists desperately trying to sell you something. It's sad, but true. Just try walking up to the Acropolis sometime: The streets are gorgeous, the restaurants are incredible, and those three random teenagers trying to give you "friendship bracelets" don't actually want to be your friend. I steered clear... others were not so lucky.
After Redditor Braves_Fan96 asked the online community, "World travelers, what are some of the worst tourist traps you have encountered? What can be done to catch it beforehand?" people gave their sincerest tips.
"If people are trying to charge you..."
PSA: The Staten Island Ferry is FREE. If people are trying to charge you for tickets, they're scam artists. If you're traveling to New York, it's worth visiting for the views, especially considering the cost, or lack thereof.
"Lovely, but everybody hypes up..."
Las Ramblas in Barcelona.
Lovely city, but everybody hypes up this one street that's crowded full of people. It's practicallly highlighted in every tour guide of the city yet I still don't understand the draw. Every restaurant and shop on the street is a tourist trap as well: overpriced and under-quality. It's much more worth your time to stroll around the Gothic neighborhood if the city rather than Las Ramblas.
"Don't get me wrong..."
Rome's touristy areas are unbearable.
Every single popular site or place features the same mob of sketchy and all around annoying characters. Friendship bracelets, fake petitions, fake charities, sh!tty toys and souvenirs. You can't take two steps without somebody trying to hassle you.
The Vatican isn't even immune to this. While approaching it, you still have scammers dressed in outfits to trick people they are part of the staff. They basically scam elderly and others into believe they bought the wrong ticket. we joked that The Vatican felt like Hollywood BLVD, but religious.
Then, on top of all of this, the food around these areas are scams as well designed to trick gullible travelers out of their money. I ate the best pasta I've ever had in Rome, and I've ate the worst.
Don't get me wrong, I love Rome as a whole. But man do their tourist areas suck.
"Walking along the street..."
Walking along the street and friendly locals will greet you with "bula vinaka" (hello) and beautiful smiles. Every now and then one will start a conversation with you and ask you for your name. Before you know it, they are carving your name into 'traditional' wooden spears and shields etc then asking you for money for the work you never asked for. They will look upset when you tell them you don't want it and they will explain that now they can't sell the item because they carved your name into it already and they will follow you down the street reducing their price until you finally agree.
Best advice: be friendly, say hello, don't give anyone your name.
I was in Paris walking with a female friend and some guy in front of us picked up a ring off the floor and motioned to ask if it was her's. She said no but he insisted she take it. I said "Don't, he's trying to get money off of you" and she said "No, he just picked it up off the floor!" Sure enough, he asked her for money, she gave him a little, I guess it wasn't enough so he asked for the ring back. When we walked away I said, "You know that guy just took you for a ride, right?" We're from NYC so she felt very ashamed.
"The exact same thing..."
We wanted to visit the Colosseum in Rome. All the way towards it from the tube station, there are dozens of people offering "discounted tours" - you join a group, they get you in for a reduced price, seems good. Except it isn't. These tour tickets are about €20 per person, which seems reasonable until you get to the entrance to the Colosseum and see that it's €12 for an adult, or €2 for a student. My wife and I got in for €14 because she still had a valid student ID.
The exact same thing happened on the way to the Vatican - people coming up to us insisting that it's cheaper to get in if we buy museum tickets. It costs nothing to go into the Vatican! They rely on tourists who don't know any better, see the queue for the Vatican museum and think it's the queue to get inside the city. It isn't.
"One asked our names..."
In Jamaica, we went on one of the guided hikes through the Dunn's River Falls. The exit is completely covered in a maze of pretty typical touristy gift shop type tents selling cheap manufactured garbage. Of course we "coincidentally" had to wait for the buses so we had nowhere to go except the tents. My gf and I (both 18 at the time, & from America) meandered around with zero intention of buying anything but we were dumb enough to entertain the salesmen by letting them talk to us.
One asked our names and when we answered, he carved them into the side of a wooden tiki head and tried handing it to us. We were taken aback because we obviously hadn't asked him to do that but then he started demanding we pay him for it because otherwise he would lose his stock for nothing. I tried to lie about not having money to spend on it, and it was uncomfortable at most until one of the other salesmen blocked the entrance out of the tent and started saying that we were essentially shoplifting from them. We knew it was possible to give them the name of the hotel we were staying at have them charge us through there but there was no way I was a actually paying them or letting them know where I was sleeping so I just put one of the other resorts and a fake last name and told them to charge us. Luckily they let us go. Pretty freaked out through. I kept that tiki head for about 10 years as my "trophy" for swindling swindlers
"When the bar closed..."
In Istanbul I connected with two random dudes, we had some beer together at a bar, spent a good two, three hours there. I bought them a few beers and they offered me beers aswell. Had a genuine good time as I often do when meeting strangers since I travel alone most of the times.
When the bar closed they said they knew a good place near by so naturally we went there. They ordered a bottle of whisky (cheap one), and some girls came to our table. Also, not unusual. But they were working girls, but charged for company and no one told me this.
When the bill came it came with three gorilla like turks. 3600 euros. "My friends" said we all pay the same amount but they had already paid at the bar .
Things escaladed, I was alone in Istanbul 04:00 in the morning, drunk, angry and afraid. Oddly enough I slapped one open handed over the face, drunk mode, so they carried my out front and said some shit and let me go. I would still have paid for the whisky, and possibly for one of the girls company, but not 3600 €.
"We booked a tour with a local guide..."
My dad, brother, and I took a trip to Egypt. We booked a tour with a local guide and the experience was great. However after we saw the pyramids we were brought to "look" at some local stores. Basically you take a look around and the shopkeepers do some convincing and you end up buying some cheap sh!t like a poster made out of "genuine Egyptian paper" or "exquisite cologne" My dad knew what they were doing but he decided to buy some to "support local business" If you want to avoid things like this just look at reviews and if you find yourself in this situation either be persistent in refusing or buy the cheapest thing there to satisfy them.
I'm not a super well-travelled person yet, but I did get trapped pretty good in New Orleans.
If someone comes up to you in New Orleans and asks you where you got your shoes, the proper answer is "on my feet". If they ask where you from, "from my mama".
Keep walking and don't let them polish or clean your shoes, because they'll charge you for that and for their "talk."
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