Australian travellers are running into hot water overseas, with more than half falling victim to petty crime and scams, and while the financial losses are one thing to deal with, up to 40 per cent say a scam or crime ruined their holiday.
Research conducted by Southern Cross Travel Insurance found 60 per cent of us were exposed to crime on our travels, and as many as 13 per cent have even been deterred from travelling to popular holiday hot spots where crime is rife.
A third of those targeted were cheated out of hundreds of dollars, 16 per cent were conned out of over $500, with a small number losing more than $1,000 of their holiday funds.
More Aussie tourists ran into trouble in Indonesia/Bali than any other country. Thailand, also popular with travellers for its idyllic beaches, carefree atmosphere and lively nightlife had a high crime rate, with the US, Hong Kong, China and Fiji also placing high on the tourist crime map.
Overall, travellers most commonly experienced theft, dishonesty and untrustworthy services whilst travelling overseas – 15 per cent of Aussies were stung converting currency, whilst 7 per cent were victims of bankcard fraud. Friends became foes for some unlucky travellers, befriended by someone who then demanded money, leaving them high and dry.
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The survey also found:
- 21 per cent believe they were knowingly given the incorrect change
- 11 per cent found themselves in the backseat of an unlicensed taxi
- 9 per cent have used dodgy Wi-Fi
- 5 per cent were mugged or robbed on holiday
- 5 per cent had their valuables pick-pocketed
Craig Morrison from Southern Cross Travel Insurance shared these tips for avoiding travel crimes:
- Carry a travel money belt instead of a backpack – you’ll be less of a target to pickpockets.
- Leave the bling behind – expensive items, and even expensive looking items, may attract the watchful eye of thieves.
- Avoid running into trouble by exercising the same caution overseas as you would at home – e.g. don’t jump into a car with a stranger, avoid walking alone at night and take measures to safeguard your items.
- Familiarise yourself with the local currency and be wary of vendors who might try to short-change you.
- Keep your passport safe and do not give it to anyone or leave it as a deposit for a jet ski or bike hire – it is the most valuable thing you take on holiday!
- Be mindful of where you leave your items, even if right next to you. Normal places to put your items in Australia are often targeted overseas by thieves. Avoid leaving them unattended on the beach or in other public places such as bars and restaurants.
- Avoid using unlicensed taxis. Use licensed, marked taxis, and note down the name of the company and driver. Be wary of taxi drivers who might try and drive away with your items still in the boot.
- Be mindful of distractions thieves use such as kids trying to sell items or people telling you there is something in your hair or on your top.
- Never leave valuable items (e.g. cash, jewellery, electronics) in checked luggage or stored away from you when using a transport provider.
- Bus stops and buses (especially overnight ones) are a common target for thieves. Secure valuable items where possible by keeping them on your person and using padlocks on your bags.
Have you ever been the victim of a travel scam or crime? What happened? What can others do to avoid the same thing happening to them?