The language is the same and the culture so familiar, but like anywhere in the world, the land of the free and the home of the brave has its share of scams and rip-offs that target the unwary traveller.
From simple sleight of hand to fake tickets and identity theft, here are the most common tourist scams in the USA, and our top tips to prevent becoming a target.
Australian website smartraveller.com.au notes the US is a generally safe destination for tourists but is by no means immune to acts of petty crime.
Tourists are often targeted for pick-pocketing and theft, particularly on public transport, and high- traffic tourism precincts have their fair share of scams.
The most common are generally small-change affairs, but still leave a significant sour taste in any traveller’s mouth.
So how do you protect yourself and ensure safe travels, while still enjoying all the experiences the US has on offer?
Lose the suitcase
A suitcase or backpack just screams I’m carrying everything valuable I own…right here, right now!
Not only are these travel items an obvious target, they’re also somewhat cumbersome, making it hard to beat a hasty retreat if things go awry.
The best tip is to plan and even book an immediate route from the airport to the hotel where you can safely stash the suitcase before hitting the sightseeing trail.
Stash your cash (and passport)
A wise man once said only bet what you’re prepared to lose, and that’s definitely the case when travelling overseas. If you’re carrying cash, limit it to small amounts, and if you’re using a credit card lock in a daily limit. You may even want to separate your credit card from your main account.
Meanwhile RFID protector money belts or wallets help combat identity theft.
When it comes to your passport, it’s best stored at the hotel…in the safe. If you must have it with you, carry it hidden on your person, in an RFID protected money belt that’s well out of sight.
Be hypervigilant at hotspots
It pays to bear in mind that tourist hotspots are the prime areas where targeted petty crimes are likely to occur.
Seek out authorised tourist guides and ticket sellers and if something’s too good to be true, it generally is.
It’s also a great idea to plan out your travel route and must-see sights before you hit the tourist trail. That way you look like you know where you’re going, rather than standing around map-in-hand, planning where you wish to be.
Dress not to impress
We understand the allure of that “I love NY” t-shirt but nothing says I’m a tourist quite like wearing a souvenir. The key to tourist safety in the USA is to remain low profile, blending in with the general populous as they go about their day.
That means foregoing those comfortable sneakers, ditching the Ozzy thongs, and definitely leaving the Akubra to the politicians at home.
Take out travel insurance
Travel insurance covers you for a host of unexpected tourism travesties, not least of which is the inconvenience of losing credit cards, passports or falling victim to theft.
The USA is an amazing destination packed with excitement, sights and allure. It’s just pertinent to remember you may be a target if you stand out as an unwitting tourist in the crowd.
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