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Lonely Planet Founder Shares Tips On How to Avoid Holiday Scams

If you are stopping off in Bangkok, it's best to steer clear of gemstone merchants as well as carpet sellers. 
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Oleksandr Canary Islands
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Oleksandr Canary Islands

Scammers are always looking to separate travelers from their money through good-to-be true vacation packages and airfare. Tony Wheeler and his partner Maureen Wheeler have been traveling since 1972. The couple has even created the world's largest travel guidebook publisher Lonely Planet, which sold 1,500 copies in a week. The company has published more than 150 million guidebooks since. The couple sold the company back in 2011 and continues to travel the world. They have been around the globe for more than 50 times. 

During their time, they noticed some sneaky holiday scams that everybody should be aware of. According to the duo, if you are stopping off in Bangkok, it's best to steer clear of gemstone merchants as well as carpet sellers. 

The TikToker shares some phone hacks and travel essentials for a stress-free holiday|Pexels|Photo by Gustavo Fring
Pexels | Photo by Gustavo Fring

"Those Thai gemstones are completely genuine, just not worth as much as you’re about to pay for them," Tony Wheeler wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald. "And Thailand is far from the only place where you can pay far too much, carpets are an equally good trap." He warned everybody against sellers who will ask you to follow them to their "brother's shop" or "my friend’s place" to make the sale sound a little more authentic. It's best to refuse their offer politely.

Wheeler also asked everybody to go through the country's rule book before they started their journey. This is what he had to say: "Rules change regularly as I discovered when I arrived in South Korea a few months ago. At the last moment I discovered I needed a K-ETA – a Korean Electronic Travel Authorisation, rather like the ESTA for traveling to the US. Took a lot of online messing around and cost me $12.50, but then, K-ETA in hand and even closer to the last minute, the Koreans dropped the requirement. I did not get a refund."


Wheeler also talked about swindlers who prey on people's honesty. He talks about one such incident that happened in Nairobi. "We’re in a rent-a-car driving from Nairobi in Kenya at a traffic light in a small town a young boy pops up at my window to report something has gone badly wrong with my car, there’s oil spilling out from the back wheel."

Wheeler thought he had blown a wheel-bearing oil seal on the back axle. Fortunately, there was a garage just around the corner where the Wheelers decided to leave the car, grab a coffee or some lunch while the mechanics sorted it out for them. "Half an hour later we would have had a new oil seal fitted–only $100–and all would be well," wrote Wheeler. 

They later realized that here was no oil seal failure in the first place. The small boy’s accomplice had tossed a cup of oil onto the rear wheel. 'Fixing' it was just a matter of washing the oil off.

Scammers are always up to date and even use the current circumstances to defraud people. As per CNN Travel, there were a lot of PPE and contact tracing scams during COVID-19. This is why it's best to always stay vigilant to avoid being scammed.