Travelling abroad is a time to let loose and enjoy yourself, but also a time to be vigilant. Scam artists prey on tourists and can be dangerous, if you don’t know the signs. While many tourist scams span the world, if you are travelling to Rome, here are a few popular scams you should be mindful of.
Probably the busiest bus in Rome, Bus 64 laces together the most visited sights in the city and is often filled with rich and vulnerable tourists. If you are riding Bus 64, be especially vigilant. Keep bags in your arms and keep money out of your pockets. Many tourists think they know what pickpockets look like, but in reality (at least on Bus 64) successful pickpockets do not stand out. They are dressed nicely and move quickly. Often they have a suit jacket draped over their arm to cover their roving hand.
There are plenty of scam artists roaming Rome’s busy streets with elaborate routines designed to distract you. Often these thieves create elaborate rouses to snatch your belongings, such as waving newspapers in your face or using babies to distract you. They prey on tourists and are extremely effective. Thwart thieves by keeping your belongings close and remaining vigilant in their presence.
Oftentimes, moneychangers (especially those in train stations and airports) will try to scam you out of money. They will apply an extra commission for exchanging the money, but will not advertise it up front, or they will simply take a few bills without your noticing. Know the going exchange rate and ask up-front how much you expect to get back. Have the changer count the money out in front of you, and then re-count it in front of them before moving your hands. Letting moneychangers know you are vigilantly watching them is the best way to keep them honest.
Rome is infamous for over-charging tourists for cab fares. There are a lot of illegal unmarked taxis on the road, which often do not contain meters. Make sure to look around before entering a cab to see that it has registration documents and a meter. If you are taxiing from the airport, know that these cabs can be very expensive. If you are flying through Fiumicino, consider taking the Leonardo Express train, which runs every half hour, will transport you to the centre of Rome. If you are flying through Ciampino, try the Terravision shuttle service, which will take you directly to Termini Station.
The costumed gladiators outside the Colosseum should not be missed on your trip to Rome, but do know there is an assumed customary fee for taking photographs with them. It may seem like a scam, but it is common practice to pay these costumed warriors a small fee. Do not try to sneak photographs with these men either, or you may find yourself in a modern day battle.
Italy is a renowned style capital, but avid shoppers should know that fakes are a dime a dozen, especially on the street. A good rule of thumb: if it came out of someone’s trunk, it’s not authentic.
An absurdly common ruse on the streets of Rome involves someone asking you for directions on the street. No matter what answer you give (the scammers do not expect you to have directions, as they most likely know you are a tourist), the scammer will be overwhelmed with gratitude. For your trouble, he will then offer to give you a deep discount on a designer leather jacket, but it will not be a designer jacket, it will be a knock off and you will end up spending hundreds on a fake leather jacket.
When it comes to staying safe in Rome, you may be your own worst enemy. Follow common sense precautions to keep your belongings safe and always keep your wits about you. Remember to purchase a travel insurance policy before you depart to ensure any lost or stolen items are covered in the event of an emergency. Keep copies of important documents in your suitcase in case you lose the originals and learn how to say help in the local language before you go.
Enjoy your trip, but stay safe with travel insurance from Cover-More Travel Insurance.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Moyan Brenn; cropped from original