5 travel scams to avoid when traveling in Europe

by Jun 22, 2017English, Travel

No one likes being scammed. Such an experience can leave you traumatized and even humiliated, in addition, to being lighter in your wallet.

Travelers and tourists alike are often targets and unfortunately victims of tricksters around the world.

Being unfamiliar with your environment leaves you more vulnerable than a local to scams in general.

Forewarned is forearmed. Here are 5 of the most common scams I’ve seen when traveling through Europe.

Pretty girl scam

This scam normally comes via two channels: unsolicited seemingly innocuous approaches and online dating.

The goal of this scam is to lure the victim (normally a man or group of men) to a restaurant, bar or club where they’re going to be hugely overcharged.

The pretty girl orders several drinks or food in the restaurant (without a menu to display the prices). She may even leave before the bill arrives leaving the unsuspecting victim with a massive check to pay.

For maximum pressure the huge bill is normally presented by a proportionately large bouncer to ensure the victim pays up.


Here you are given incorrect change when you go and buy something.

Often the trickster will wait to see if you realize that they have shortchanged you or not. If you question it then they will pretend that they’ve made a mistake and hand you your correct change … normally …

Always be careful to be aware of the price and change you should get back. If you not familiar with the exchange rate of the country you are in then download a currency convertor to your phone and you will be able to quickly calculate it when you are making a purchase.

Friendship bracelet scam

Here someone will approach you and offer you for free a little trinket like a ‘friendship bracelet’ in order to try to strike up some sort of rapport with you.

They will then ask you for money and continue to pester you until either you give them some or manage to convince them to leave you alone.

So in general if a stranger tries to tie a bracelet around your wrist claiming it’s a ‘present’ then it is best to refuse it point blank and walk away.

Curitiba Brazil botanical garden

Here I am with friends in Bologna, Italy and while Europe is a fantastic continent across which to travel; just beware of scammers!

Wrong orders

It’s important to pay attention to what you order, particular in a restaurant. Sometimes the waiter may switch the original order to something a lot more expensive claiming that the original order is not available.

I’ve seen this happen with bottles of champagne where a friend ordered a €15 bottle and was presented with a different bottle and asked if that was ‘ok’.

When the bill arrived, it turned out that the different bottle actually cost over €400!?!

It’s essential to confirm the price of alternatives if a waiter does not give you the bottle that you order.


Finally, I want to address pickpocketing scams that target travelers in particular.

For example, I love Barcelona in Catalonia but it has a major issue with pickpocketing in the center of the city, in my personal experience.

I even witnessed thieves sprinting several times up and down Las Ramblas having robbed some tourists/travelers.

One common trick to entrap victims that I’ve seen, is when people are approached in English with a story about a famous football player.

The trickster will then claim to show you a footballing move and grab you by the arms and perhaps put his leg between your legs in order to limit your mobility.

His partner or partners in crime will then suddenly appear and grab your valuables disappearing into the crowds.

There are many variations on this type of pickpocketing. Be particularly wary of strangers approaching you in English in countries where this is not the language spoken as they are possibly targeting tourists or travelers to the city.

Have you ever been scammed when traveling? What dishonest behavior have you seen targeting travelers? Let me know in the comments section below this article!

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