sixtyandme logo
We are community supported and may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Common Tourist Traps to Avoid While Traveling

By Sue Rudolph July 20, 2023 Travel

Traveling around the world is undoubtedly thrilling. It’s all about discovering new cultures, tasting exotic cuisines, and soaking in the beauty of Mother Nature. But, with beauty often comes the beast! Today, let’s highlight some of the common tourist traps you should avoid, making your journey more enjoyable and hassle-free.

Overpriced Souvenir Shops

The moment you step off the plane you’re bombarded with souvenir shops that market ‘authentic’ items at premium prices. This is one of the biggest tourist traps, as these trinkets are often mass-produced and not locally made. Instead of giving in to these overpriced gimmicks, try visiting local flea markets or artisan shops for goodies that truly represent the region’s culture.

Popular Tourist Attractions at Peak Times

Everyone wants to see world-renowned landmarks. But visiting them at peak times comes with a hefty price tag and sizeable crowds. Instead, explore these attractions early in the morning or late in the evening – or even better, off season – when they are less crowded and often more magical. Better yet, discover off-the-beaten-path spots that may offer an even more authentic experience.

Currency Exchange at Airports

Airports currency exchanges often have a higher markup due to their convenience. The best way to avoid this trap is to pull local currency out of the ATM in your destination or exchange money before you leave home. This ensures you get a good exchange rate without the high fees.

Tourist Menus

These exist in every country and are designed to entice hungry tourists looking for a quick meal. Unfortunately, these menus are filled with inflated prices and dishes that may not be traditional. Instead, enjoy local street food, ask locals for their favorite restaurants, or find a grocery store and make your own meals.

Cab Overcharges

Taxi scams are common in many tourist destinations. Always verify the rate before beginning your ride, ask for receipt, and watch the meter. Yet, the safest route is to take public transportation or use ride-sharing apps which give transparent pricing.

Prepackaged “Cultural Experiences”

Beware of prepackaged “cultural experiences” which are often exaggerated versions of local life designed to entice tourists. Instead, seek out genuine local experiences. Attend a local festival, take a class in a traditional craft, or visit some non-touristy neighborhoods to get an authentic slice of life.

Dubious “Local” Guides

Often, you’ll find self-professed “local” guides offering tours at a hefty price. These can be classic tourist traps. Instead, research reputable tour companies or download self-guided tour apps. Consider also city walking tours led by locals, which often operate on a pay-what-you-feel basis.

Traveling is about the journey, not just the destination. Part of the journey is learning how to navigate and avoid the pitfalls that come with being a tourist. Keep these in mind, and you’ll be able to experience your adventure to its fullest!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What tourist traps have you found while traveling? Did you fall for any of them? How did you manage to avoid them?

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

We were caught up in a restaurant scam in Lisbon, Portugal. How it works is when you are studying the menu the waiter offers you the daily specials which are platters of grilled meats or fish to share accompanied by salads etc.

When you ask for the bill the cost is astronomical and if you query it you are shown a list of high prices hidden at the back of the menu. You are then told cash only as the card terminal isn’t working and some tourists have been threatened (the scam is run by a criminal who also has the pickpocket gangs on the old yellow trams). The food quality isn’t good either.

The police get tourists reporting this regularly, but can do nothing as the city government say because the prices are displayed even though hidden it’s legal. All they tell you is to stay away from side streets off the main drag that has all the tourist restaurants on it and they advise using restaurants where you see locals eating.

Sue Rudolph

Wow. I never heard of that. I will let my clients know.


The restaurant changes its name from time to time, you can find reviews from tourists who’ve been ripped off on TripAdvisor, so I hope this may help.

The same side street has a top restaurant on it that has been featured on TV food programmes, one is Rick Stein’s Weekends on the BBC.

Ms Sue Rudolph

Thanks. I appreciate the information


I planned a trip to Portugal and stuck to my plan. I stayed in 4 Air BNBs in three locations, took a cooking class to learn to make Nata’s, and took a boat tour of the coast. I drove 1800km in 11 days and saw a lot of the country from north to south. I took time to see what I wanted to see using maps and tourist books. Planning is key but be willing to venture on your own. Don’t forget to put a map app on your phone and you’ll be fine. Lear to say hello, good morning, please and thank you. The locals will help with the rest. Always be courteous and not talk like they are deaf. And always smile! Have fun!

Sue Rudolph

Good advise

Lynne Stevens

My first memory of Mexico was flying into Mexico City to get a connecting flight the next morning to Cozumel. A cab driver who spoke English latched onto me, took me to a hotel and then to a market (both of which he may have gotten commissions), picked me up the next morning and took me to the airport. I think it was a bit on the expensive side, but it was my first time in a foreign country, didn’t know any of the language then, and it was a relief to have him there since I felt pretty lost at the time.

The Author

Sue Rudolph is the owner of Absolutely Amazing Travel. Since 1994, she has been helping travelers who want to experience a destination, not just see it. She creates itineraries to exotic locations where you will meet the locals, immerse yourself in the culture, and get up close to nature and wildlife. Find out more at Amazing Travel.

You Might Also Like