July 13, 2024

Be Mindful – Avoid Travel Scams

Tibet Sera Monastery Monks

Do you love to travel?  Hopefully you have some great travel adventures on your schedule in the near future.  Travel planning is a big part of the fun of travel – thinking about where you will be, the things you will see, and what you will do.  While most of that planning will focus of the positives – the adventures – you really should also give some thought to possible difficulties such as Travel Scams.  Scams can disrupt the joy of your journey, they can be costly, they can even be harmful.  So part of your trip planning should involve preparing yourself to avoid or deal with Travel Scams you might encounter.  And just to be clear – I’m not suggesting you be paranoid. I’m just suggesting you be prepared.

Be Mindful – Be Alert – Be Aware!

The most basic, but also most effective way to avoid unfortunate travel incidents such as falling prey to travel scams is to always be alert and aware.  This is not always easy for the traveler.  New places, new sounds, new sights, and new people can grab your attention. You’re on vacation, right?  You are enjoying a great travel experience.  You want to kick back, relax and soak it all in.   Unfortunately, this is the exact situation that scammers try to exploit.  While you are all caught up in exploring the wonders of your new travel destination, the scammer is using his or her local knowledge to victimize you.

The best defense to avoid becoming a victim is to be a wise traveler – a “Mindful Traveler.” Remain alert and aware.  Scammers target travelers, the visitors who are strangers to the location.    To avoid coming to the attention of scammers it is wise to do your best not to stand out as a visitor. Be aware of your appearance. Try not to dress in a manner which screams “tourist”.  That’s  like painting a target on your back. Some of this obvious. Dress in a manner similar to locals.  Don’t flash large amounts of money.  Leave your expensive jewelry at home. Don’t walk around with a map in your hand while gawking at the sights.   Conduct yourself in a confident and purposeful manner.  If you need to check your map or smartphone app – find a quiet place to sit and do so discretely.  If you want to enjoy a location and take in the view – find a place to sit and really take it in rather than walking and sight seeing absentmindedly.  If you are a photographer – don’t walk around with your eye glued to the viewfinder.  Select your location and your view and then go to the view finder to compose your shot. And before going to the view finder – it’s good to look all around you to be aware of your surroundings.  You don’t want someone sneaking up behind you to snatch your stuff while you take that shot.  And you don’t want to be run down by an errant bicyclist either!

All of this falls into a category which the police and military refer to as “situational awareness.”  As you travel, don’t be mindlessly gawking at your surroundings.  Instead, be mindfully enjoying the environment while also being situationally aware.

What is this “situational awareness” and how can you get better at it?  As I researched this article I ran across a very nice and helpful write up on the topic by Brett and Kate McKay. So rather than “reinvent the wheel”, let me refer you to their link,  “How To Develop … Situational Awareness….”  Okay, it is written from a bit of a military type perspective.  And some of the examples are (hopefully) over the top for the typical travel experience.  But the ideas, concepts, and objectives do truly apply. All you have to do is take them and modify them slightly for your own travel experiences and destinations.

So again- I’m not saying the traveler should be paranoid and frightened and needs to stay exhaustingly vigilant and on-guard.  Not at all.  But if you want to travel and do so safely, without needlessly exposing yourself to physical or financial threats and scams, there are some skills you can learn and apply.  Be a wise and mindful traveler – one with reasonable situational awareness.

That’s all for now on this topic.  In the future I’ll be sharing some of the typical scams that tourists encounter. And yes, I’ve fallen prey to some myself.   I’d love to hear from you on this topic so please feel free to comment.

Be Aware …….  And Enjoy the Adventure!

Dr.B,  The PhotoTrekker

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