The Dark Side of Travel - Tourist Traps and more...

Photo of The Dark Side of Travel - Tourist Traps and more... 1/2 by Roshan Chugh (@vagabondfootsteps)
Photo of The Dark Side of Travel - Tourist Traps and more... 2/2 by Roshan Chugh (@vagabondfootsteps)

Iconic cities like Paris and Rome may be among the top places to visit for any tourist, however it has a darker side to it which makes travellers re think and make them not want to come back to such cities heavily dominated by tourists. I am talking about the daunting scams and traps which one can face as a foreigner in another country. Back in Paris one evening I was stopped by the police as I were getting off the metro station at Hotel de Ville. They said it was a routine check and they were just checking for those travelling without tickets. I had purchased a 3 day transport card earlier from the train ticket counter at the Charles De Gaulle Airport for 28 Euro. I showed them my card to which they said that I were to pay a fine of 35 Euro for not sticking my photograph on the card. It was surprising as when I was sold the ticket the person at the counter just made the transaction and sold me the pass, and said I was good to go for all of my stay in Paris. I do not know how true is this rule of being fined for not having your photograph on a transport pass especially such a huge fine. I still do not know if the police took advantage of me not knowing French and gave me a receipt of 35 Euro. Being well traveled in Paris, Rome and other part of Italy and also having been kind of trapped as a tourist I have written some my experiences which might have been traps that foreigners face and should be well aware of before setting foot on these countries and other such iconic countries.

People trying a bracelet on your wrist

This takes place as you walk on your way to an attraction, often at known landmarks and museums or sites. As you pass by the crowd, a seemingly random stranger suddenly offers you a "genuine" bracelet or other form of jewellery while quickly tying it into your arm, if you are not quick enough to parry him or her. Even if he offers it for free, never believe it for a moment. Just walk away and say "non merci" or "no grazie", just as many others do. A simple rebuke may anger them, but be firm and never fall for their next moves, whether to curse you or beg for another chance.

People asking 'Do you speak English?

The question may be simple but it's also a bait you can easily fall - English speakers are more likely foreigners than locals. Assuming the role of a tourist, a scammer may ask you if you know the universal language, so he can strike a conversation. The next sentences could be the well-rehearsed lines aimed at asking you for money for whatever reason (he lost his passport, he was robbed, and so on). This tactic is often employed on popular tourist attractions, notably big train stations like Termini station in Rome and Gard De Nord in Paris.

Don't have an espresso by the leaning tower of Pisa

It is a huge tourist trap, really. Having a drink or food around a famous attraction means you will be paying 3-5 above normal prices. Instead, take a walk and have a drink or food anywhere else on another street. Another great tip is that if there is an English menu in a non-English speaking country, the prices will be much higher as well.

Just like on any place frequented by crowd, pickpockets can thrive on Paris and Rome metros/buses filled with people. Making matters worse is how travellers become vulnerable. They wear back packs that can easily be opened without their knowledge, or get too busy checking out their guidebooks and folding maps while inside the train. Beyond the metro stations and trains, be on the lookout elsewhere, as Louvre Museum staff are even fed up they staged a protest due to rampant pickpocket incidents inside the museum.

Don't pay museums, visit them on free days.

It is really not necessary to pay for the entrance of the museums when you have many to-do options in a city. Almost all museums in Europe has a couple of specific days for free entrance. Before you plan your trip, don't forget to check the free entrance days to museums online. The Mona Lisa is TINY, and you'll need to elbow your way through massive crowds to get a closer look. The Louvre is filled with gems - check out literally any other piece of art there.

Not carrying much of cash, keeping their important documents such as passport close to them by having a pouch tied around their waist, not flashing the city map and walking on the crowded road and trying not to draw attention are some of the things you must be aware of as a foreigner. Being aware of these possibilities help tourists see the tell-tale signs and be more prepared to stay away from trouble. Paris and Rome scams, just like in any other major tourist city, can be avoided if travellers are more sensible of their surroundings and practice common sense taking care of themselves. On my experiences my biggest tip for having a great time on your holiday at any of these countries would be as follows. These are a couple of reasons why I have a great time on my travels.

"Do as the locals do"

Sure, you can consult a tour guide or concierge about where to spend your time in the city, but you're better off getting closer to the source. Chat up locals on the street or in neighbourhood pubs. They'll direct you to the best places to eat, shop, and find smashing deals. Although it wouldn't hurt if you offered to buy their next pint for them.

Get Lost!

One of the biggest perks of being in a new city is the fact that you have no clue where you are! Ditch the map and use this to your advantage by spending time at leisure wandering around the cobblestone streets on your own. You sure will stumble upon cool attractions you wouldn't have seen otherwise, and it comes with a bonus which is you get to forego the commotion that comes with crowds and typical tourist traps.