How To Avoid Being Victimized On Vacation

Whether you realize it or not, as a tourist, you are very conspicuous to would-be criminals who would like to take advantage of you. To help keep you safe, CNN and BudgetTravel have compiled a list of some common crimes at some of the most popular travel destinations. The list, inside…

Barcelona – Is pretty safe in the tourist areas. Be aware of overly-friendly people who try to hug you or distract you, since these are techniques commonly used by pick-pocketers.

Cancun – Street vendors often sell jewelry that they claim is real silver and costs around $20. The fake silver will often turn yellow or lose its sheen within a few weeks.

Las Vegas – If your cab ride from the airport to the strip takes longer than 20 minutes, you may be a victim of the “long haul.” Police advise that anyone who feels they have been taken advantage of by cab drivers should file a complaint at taxi.state.nv.us.

London – Scotland Yard recommends taking the city’s old-school black cabs which are licensed by the city instead of the “mini-cabs.” According to recent data, 10 women a month are assaulted in mini-cabs.

Montreal – Theft of electronics out of vehicles is a big problem in Montreal, so much so that there is a $30 fine if you don’t lock your car door. Police advise to keep any laptops, GPS units, etc. in your trunk.

New Orleans – The article says, ” A common scam in the French Quarter goes something like this: A man approaches you and says, “Bet you $5 that I can tell you where you got your shoes!” Whether you accept the bet or not, he adds, “On your feet on Bourbon Street,” and demands the money. Authorities say some people pay up just to avoid a confrontation. If a stranger tries to entice you into a bet, police officer Shereese Harper suggests you keep walking and don’t say a word —responding encourages the scam artist to harass you.”

Orlando – Beware of multi-day theme-park tickets from the shops on International Drive near Universal Studios or outside Disney World or in the city of Kissimmee. These shops often procure old tickets that have a few days left on them and sell them to you. Parks prohibit the resale of passes and will turn you away if they think you have one.

Check out the full article for more tips.

Tips to avoid being victimized on vacation
[CNN]

Comments

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  1. newlywed says:

    lol to the shoe scam in NOLA. though that really seems like it would work anywhere…

  2. @newlywed: Nah, that wouldn’t work against most New Yorkers, as we would respond with something along the lines of “Get the fuck away from me.”

    Then again, a New Yorker probably wouldn’t end up as a tourist in New Orleans in the first place.

  3. Sorry folks, that was a scam. Moose out front shoulda told you.

  4. Jeff asks: "WTF could you possibly have been thinking? says:

    And my response would be: Bet you I can tell you where you got that concussion…..

  5. trogam says:

    I wouldn’t leave my laptop in my car ANYWHERE. It even comes with me to dinner if I have someplace to go and I have it with me. Of course, all I’m really doing is running it to gather people’s blue tooth phone conversation of those idiots in restaurant so that I may later exact my revenge…

  6. weave says:

    Wow, that shoe line in NOLA is still going on? I went there ten years ago and had a few people try that line on me.

  7. “responding encourages the scam artist to harass you.”
    I found that throwing Emeril’s Cajun Hot Rub Powder in their eyes while yelling “BAM!” tends to discourage them, while also bringing out the flavor of chicken.

    Theft of electronics out of vehicles is a big problem in Montreal, so much so that there is a $30 fine if you don’t lock your car door.
    I wonder if anyone has caught a cop picking their lock, a la the cop breaking your tail light so he can give you a ticket for it.

  8. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    Boston: Beware of newspapers vendors who sell Spare Change News. They are scam artists.

  9. opsomath says:

    I was just in New Orleans, and no one tried that line on me. Disappointing. Although plenty of people tried to sell me “Mardi Gras beads” (it was the end of April) which they definitely picked up off the street.

  10. GiselleBeardchen says:

    Had the shoe scam pulled on me in NOLA on my honeymoon 26 yrs ago by a 10 year old boy. I paid readily, not to avoid confrontation, but because I though it was funny and good fun!

  11. Serious conversation in Rome:

    African purse counterfeitter: “Hey, hey Mrs. Nice Lady, you come buy nice purse from me!”

    My mom: “Hey, how did you know my name?”

    Those guys are clever!

  12. gamin says:

    Seriously Why would you hug a stranger? I mean the mugger has to be a fine looking chick in order to hug a stranger

  13. bsalamon says:

    gotta love new orleans….
    not talking from experience or anything…I lost the bet, and the guy asked my friend for the cash – it was quite amusing

  14. TouchMyMonkey says:

    Went to Disney World back in 1991, and stayed at a fleabag motel on International Drive. First mistake – should have stayed in downtown Orlando. They have plenty of reasonably priced rooms (or at least they did 17 years ago), and no scam artists.

    Except I would hardly call them ‘artists’ in the strict sense of the word. They hang out in front of all (and I mean ALL) the restaurants and bug the shit out of you from the time you get out of your car until you reach the blessed air-conditioned bliss of the interior of the building. Then they bug the shit out of you from the time you leave until the time you get in your car, IMMEDIATELY lock all the doors, and drive off.

    Tasers and pepper spray were made for people like this; I heard you can get a concealed carry permit in an hour in Florida; I bet both Tasers and pepper spray are standard equipment in the Sunshine State.

    If that isn’t enough, all the popular spots for daytrippers in central Florida, such as Daytona Beach, are infested by various hustlers, some of whom wear big 80s hair and blazers for some real-estate company. Since you can drive your car on the beach at Daytona (a particularly stupid tradition, IMO), people selling timeshares drive up and down the beach trolling for tourists who want nothing more than a relaxing stroll and sand between the toes. Why else does one go to Florida in January? Well, that was my first and last trip down there.

  15. Nytmare says:

    If some guy comes up to you at a rest stop or truck stop and asks for spare change because he’s trying to get his family to Townville and he’s out of gas, well, he’s been going that for months now.

  16. crunkbear says:

    I got the shoe line when I was down in New Orleans last September, but the guy wanted $20! We gave him $5 but it’s definitely a line that only works once.

  17. backbroken says:

    Travelled to Barcelona last year and heard all the horror stories of pickpockets and scam artists, especially around La Rambla. Never had a problem, but then again I’m always very aware of who is around me and how I’m presenting myself when I’m on unfamiliar ground. Also I like to think I’m a savvy tourist. Regardless, never let your guard down when you are a tourist. Regard every stranger as a potential pickpocket or worse. I’m not saying that you should be paranoid to the point of ruining your experience, but people tend to turn off that little voice in their head that tells you something isn’t right when they are on vacation.

  18. j03m0mma says:

    I was down in NOLA like 10yrs ago and had the shoe trick pulled on me. Only thing was I was there with a local. My buddy opened his mouth and the scam artist recognized his accent and took off immediately. My buddy was chasing after his screaming “Hey give me your number that way I can call yah when I can’t find my shoes next time!!!”

    I almost fell down on Bourbon Street laughing so hard.

  19. Anonymous says:

    @HurtsSoGood: Actually, if you go to Disney, there is no good reason to not stay on site. But that’s besides the point.

  20. Anonymous says:

    @MeSoHornsby: Whoa, I think I need to go to grammar school.

  21. MickeyMoo says:

    I was in Rome about 15 years ago waiting for a cab at the train station and a little girl who couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8 walked up and shoved a folded newspaper in my face. In the span of what couldn’t have been more than 5 seconds – she was able to unzip my jacket, open a snapped closed inner pocket, remove my wallet and rezip my jacket (those are some seriously impressive pickpocketing skills IMHO)

    Once I noticed that my wallet was gone (after a brief WTF was that about moment) I started yelling in Italian that i’d been robbed – a local man who apparently had witnessed what was going on – grabbed he cohort/brother and started backhanding him (and I mean like WAILING on this kid’s face and head till he was screaming) The girl magically appeared out of the crowd – handed me back my wallet full contents intact – and begged for the man to stop striking the boy.

    I learned my lesson that day – carry your important travel documents separately, keep some change in your pockets so you don’t have to pull your wallet out.

  22. Technick says:

    I’ve traveled around a good bit of the Caribbean and can say Cancun is not the only “sketchy” place for buying things. Its a general rule of thumb, never EVER buy anything of value from any of the street vendors any where in the Caribbean. I’ve found the best rewards from shopping where the locals shop and paying the same thing they do.

    Its also a great idea to work on your haggling / bargaining skills before traveling. 99% of the items for sale any where in the Caribbean (besides wal-mart and other big chain stores) can be negotiated for a much lower price.

    Always keep your money separated, I personally prefer to keep rolls of $10 dollard with rubber bands wrapped around each set. That way if I buy something for x amount after haggling with him for a lower price due “funding issues”, i’m not giving away the fact I lied.

    Also on a separate note, never buy drugs in the airports in Jamaica. If you do decide to partake in some smoking while visiting Jamaica, the “Weed” dealers around the resorts jack the price up by 400% at least. Always haggle for a free sample first before buying.

    Hmmm I think that covers all the good points, if anyone has any questions, you can find me at technick (at) gmail (dot) com.

  23. Magspie says:

    We spent a couple of weeks in Guadalajara, and some locals had told my husband stories about cab drivers kidnapping tourists. We weren’t that worried about it, but then we were in a cab and my husband was trying to tell the driver to go right (derecha) but he said derecho (straight) instead. So the driver kept driving straight when we were trying frantically to get him to turn right. We were a little freaked out. It was pretty funny when we got it all figured out.

  24. bohemian says:

    My fav was the guy down by all the tourist stuff in Chicago trying to sell the free newspapers.

  25. apotheosis says:

    So the whole “adopt an air of world-weary indifference” thing doesn’t convince locals you’re not to be trifled with?

  26. raidi0head says:

    The worst experience I’ve had while traveling are the tourist hotspots in Jamaica and the high pressure vendors that feed off of them. After climbing the falls at Ochos Rios, there is like a little maze of shops that you have to worm your way through in order to get out of the park and back to the parking lot. Fortunately, my wife and I were the first ones of our group to go through, so we started running through before they realized a group of people was coming in. In spite of that, it didn’t prevent one of the vendors from grabbing my wife’s arm. We’ll never go back to Jamaica because of the constant hard sell from vendors.

  27. CajunGuy says:

    Yeah, good old NOLA. I’ve had the shoe thing mentioned already pulled on me, but I’ve had another shoe scam TRY to be pulled on me, to no avail.

    A buddy and I used to go to NOLA for the weekend every once in a while when I was in college. Since I’m from and live in LA, it’s only about a 3 hour drive for me. Anyway, we were sitting in one of the park areas taking in the sights when this guy walks up to my buddy and sort of kneels next to him. He starts talking to my friend (I don’t remember what about, that was about 10 years ago) and before he knew it, the guy had squirted some kind of liquid soap crap on his shoes and started “shining” them. Of course, with only the audacity that NOLA street urchins possess, he told my friend that “that’ll be $20″. My buddy, being non-confrontational, offered him $5, which he gladly snatched up.

    Then the guy turned in my direction…I’ll paraphrase my response…

    “I’m a Cajun, jackass. If you even attempt to squirt that *expletive* on my NEW shoes, I know of plenty swampland where they’ll never find your body.”

    Strangely, the guy left us alone without so much as a sideways glance. I wish there was a moral to this story, but I just can’t think of one.

  28. smallestmills says:

    Visiting my brother and mom who used to live in NOLA we used to hear that shoe scam all the time. We’d piss them off by yelling “on our feet!” so all the tourists could hear.

    They kind of reminded me of chirping birds. You could sit on a bench in the touristy areas (like outside the French Market) and hear over and over “I know where you got your shoes.”

  29. picardia says:

    The NOLA shoe scam is a time-honored shakedown of the tourists. You should be honored to pay $5 for this experience.

  30. Triborough says:

    One thing to do is always look like you know where you are going and try to not look like a tourist. Almost everywhere I have gone I have had people come up to me and ask directions since I apparently looked like I may be a local.

    One tip:
    Go to a firehouse and buy a t-shirt or two. They are much better than the touristy souvenirs, the money goes to help out the firehouse or some worthy cause (like an injured firefighter), and you get a t-shirt to wear that will make you look a bit more like a local.

  31. adamcz says:

    There was a guy in NYC who on two occassions intentionally bumped into me to try and make me feel like I had made him drop his glasses (which looked in horrible shape since he drops them over and over every day in trying his scam).

    He was a bigger guy, so I asked him if he’s trying to intimidate me why he bothers with the glasses bit in the first place. Why doesn’t he just threaten to beat me up? He didn’t answer.

  32. apotheosis says:

    @Triborough: The T-shirt thing is a neat idea. Thanks for that.

  33. ekthesy says:

    @Triborough:

    Firehouses sell t-shirts?

  34. Triborough says:

    @ekthesy: Yes, firehouses do. It often is a way for the “house fund” to make some money (after expenses, of course) and as fund raisers for burn funds, injured firefighters, widows and orphans, etc.

    They are a good deal, ranging from $10-$20 depending on design, where the money is going, etc. They tend to be good quality shirts, too. Plus it is much better what you are going to get from some tourist trap and you can talk to some interesting people.

    Here are some examples from Ladder 8:

  35. Mira Mi Huevo!!! says:

    Down here in Texas the “shoe scam” would not fly… “scammers” don’t like to being shot, so they stay away. ;)

  36. Mira Mi Huevo!!! says:

    sorry… (don’t like being shot at)

  37. Farquar says:

    Homeless guys in SF have been selling free newspapers as long as I’ve lived there. My favorite line is when told by the tourist that they have no cash, homeless man, will respond “No problem, I take credit cards”.

    All the Central American/Mexican tourist spots (and I would presume most other spots that have lots of tourists) will have a lot of the hard sell, hassling. I couldn’t tell you the number of times we heard “Hey, you should buy your pretty lady something nice from us” in Cozumel. After an afternoon on ATV’s we ended up coming back through the tourist district covered in mud, and no less than 5 shop owners offered my wife the use of their showers for a small fee (never me, suprisingly).

  38. SinisterMatt says:

    I suppose there is wisdom in the line “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

    Speaking of Italy, apparently they have problems there too with thefts out of cars, except that there bags and stuff get stolen out of cars sitting in traffic by the guys on motorcycles zipping in between lanes. You’d be sitting in traffic and BAM! someone opens your car door, takes your camera bag and it’s gone before you can react.

    Best deterrent: Use the seatbelt or a belt to keep all your bags stuck together, with the release not where it can easily be gotten. And oh, yeah, lock your car doors!

    In the article under the Montreal heading, it says: “Simoneau says you should put your belongings in the trunk when you park there.” Shouldn’t you put your belongings there before you leave, say, your hotel to get to your destination? Otherwise, who’s to say that a thief just doesn’t watch you put your laptop in your trunk and then just pops the trunk open?

    Cheers!

  39. secretoftheeast says:

    @MickeyMoo: I’ve heard something similar to that, except instead of using a newspaper, they practically shoved a baby in your arms, expecting you to hold it (versus letting them drop it).

  40. idx says:

    Open carrying a fire arm solves many of these problems (where legal).

    Just kidding.

    Sort of.

    Also, I’ve been in NOLA for a few years now and no one has ever tried the shoe thing on me. Instead I get hit with the “no sexy people are allowed in this area” scam. It’s usually a group of 2 or 3 people and they come up to you and tell you that they are under cover fun agents or something like that, and that you are in direct violation of a sexy restricted area. Then they tell you that they are collecting money for some charity. In actuality they are, but it’s one of those charities that spends 80% of their funds on themselves and 20% on actual causes.

  41. Trai_Dep says:

    Strip your wallet of extraneous stuff before you leave. Leave any nice jewelry/watches at home as well.
    Always keep your wallet in your front pocket. Keep your passport and large-denomination bills – sigh if you MUST carry them with you – in one of those travel purse things strapped around your waist under your clothing.
    Every time you go out, think, “What do I really need to take with me?” Leave everything else behind.
    Keep a list of passport photocopies, credit card numbers (and international phone numbers) and traveler’s check numbers in a safe place where you’re staying.
    Ideally, make friends with people who live there and visit as a local. They’ll keep you safer. Of course, this entails that you not be an Ugly American. :)

  42. Banned in DC says:

    In DC, lock your doors when pumping gas. Thieves have been known to drive up to the station and sneak in back doors while the drivers are on the other side pumping gas. They take any purses, briefcases, laptops they find, and then hop in the waiting getaway car and take off to Maryland.

  43. Any Caribbean Island – Braids and beads (or, The Monica in Barbados). I’m sorry my ‘nilla cousins, but getting your hair braided into cornrows or with loud-ass beads on the ends is a complete waste of your money as the braids will come loose with your first hair washing. And at $5-$10 per braid, you can get taken for $50-$100 per head.

  44. charlestonsteve says:

    In Atlanta

    You’ll stop at an self-pay parking lot that has a central collection box to stuff your money into. There will be a guy, sometimes wearing a jacket or shirt from the parking company, that tells you it’s after hours or special event parking and that you’ll have to pay him.

    When you get back from dinner, there will be a boot on your car because when the actual parking company came by to check on it, there was no money in your slot.

    That got me when I was a freshman.

  45. P_Smith says:

    Here’s my shortlist of ways to stay out of trouble:

    1) Put “carrying around money” in a cheap nylon wallet, and in the usual place, back right. If somebody gets that, it’s a small loss.

    2) Keep other carried money, cash or travellers’ cheques, in another pocket. It’s thin and flat, and hides well.

    3) Keep ID or credit cards in a card holder. It will be thin and can be hidden in safer places. AWAY from the money, and in a zipped pocket.

    4) Use a cell phone with a camera as opposed to a regular camera. The pictures may suffer a little, but cell phones are easier to hide in a pocket instead of a “Steal me, Mr. Thief!” case.

    5) Wear cargo pants or cargo shorts. Zipped/velcro pockets are harder for thieves to open unnoticed. Front and side pockets are also easier for you to see and protect. A custom made pocket on the inside a leg is also a good idea.

    6) Wear sneakers, not sandals. You can’t run fast after – or away from – a thief while in sandals. Bare feet make easier targets, disabling you while being robbed.

    7) Tourists carry maps, locals don’t. Photocopy the relevant parts – printer/copier paper isn’t a giveaway like a glossy map is. Also, tourist maps are cheap or free – get more than one and tear out only the parts needed to keep them small. Also, get a small compass that fits on your wristwatch band. It’s barely noticeable but very helpful.

    8) Carry as little as possible. Locals rarely carry more than one bag. A shoulder bag with the strap on the opposite side (over your head) is harder to snatch and grab. No, it does NOT look gay for men to do it. Having one bag means you have one arm free to protect yourself.

    9) Distribute. Don’t put all your eggs into one basket, and don’t carry everything in one pocket. It may mean you’re more likely to lose *one* thing to a pickpocket, but less likely to lose *everything*.

    10) Carry non-weapon weapons. If you look threatening to a thief, he may not target you. An umbrella, a plastic soft drink bottle, or even a pen will make good, basic weapons if you are attacked and need to defend yourself.

    Just remember: protect your life, not your money. If a thief says “Gimme your wallet!” you give it. If he’s trying to kill you, THEN you fight back.

  46. Triborough says:

    Basically the how to be a New Yorker tips would work in this case. Some of these are based on observation and some were told to me by various members of the NYPD or MTA Police. I suspect they would work well elsewhere and when traveling too. I’ll try not to repeat things mentioned above.

    1) If you have a good camera and photo equipment a messenger bag is perfect. Well at least here in NYC (and most big cities, I guess), since they are fairly common. An added bonus is they are waterproof. Many have a strap that goes around the waist that makes it harder to get plus they stay close to the body and you can get other gear in there.

    2) Carry mugger money. This hearkens back to the bad old Koch-Dinkins days. You have a couple bucks in your pocket that you give up willingly or use to toss in one direction while you run in the other. I never had to use this, but I am told this is how it works.

    3) Never stick your wallet in the back pocket. It sounds simple, but it is harder to get at in front.

    4) Don’t tuck in your shirt. A pickpocket will have to lift up your shirt to get at your wallet which you hopefully put in your front pocket.

    5) Don’t dress like a tourist. As I mentioned before, it is a good idea to stop in a local firehouse and get a t-shirt. In NYC it is very easy to spot tourists wearing fresh I ♥ NY t-shirts that the no doubt paid too much for. Ditto for things proclaiming some local tourist trap.

    On the flip side, don’t go around wearing some shirt that easily IDs you as an out of towner. Included in this would be shirts proclaiming something like “Podunk High School NYC Trip 2008″ or anything else that screams not from around here.

    Now, I do have to admit that I have gone about on multiple occasions in NYC in a Wisconsin sweatshirt and still had people asking me directions, but then again I know where I am going thanks to biking hundreds if not thousands of miles through the city. Then again, I also go about town wearing this for the irony value:

  47. redpeppers20xx says:

    In Chicago a guy tried to make my gf use his umbrella so he could charge us for it. Another guy offered us Chicago postcards..I had a brain cramp and accepted the postcards w/o thinking…he then asked for a donation to the homeless in exchange for the cards..I gave him all my pocket change,about .80 or so,not a big deal but…then as we started to walk away he asked to have the cards back..the cards I had just ‘bought’ lol.

  48. joellevand says:

    Fun in Camden, NJ:

    “Spare a dollar for the train?”
    “You’ve already got $10 in your hand right there.”
    “Yeh, but I gotta take the train all the way to Trenton.”
    “All tickets cost the same amount, $1.35 for 2 hours.”
    “Yeh, but then I gotta transfer so I can get the train to Philadelphia.”
    “Why do you want to go all the way from Camden to Trenton to get SEPTA to Philadelphia when the Speedline runs from Camden to Philadelphia, is right on the other side of the these tracks, will get you there in 10 minutes, and costs $2?”
    “I gotta meet a friend and get him a ticket too.”
    “Well, it’s $1.35 for a 2 hour ticket. That’ll get you to Trenton and back. Your friend can buy a ticket for $1.35. Then it’s $2 each into the city. That’s still less than ten dollars.”

    Pause.

    “So, can I have a dollar or not?”

  49. kbarrett says:

    @chumia40: Don’t apologize for speaking Texan.

    We knew what you meant.

  50. rockasocky says:

    Here is my tip for tourists in Hawaii: Don’t be an idiot, there are thieves in Hawaii too. Just because it seems like paradise doesn’t mean you can leave all your crap in your rental convertible with the top down. Common sense, people!

  51. dogmatixx says:

    I got scammed years ago in NYC, where I guy outside the train station offered to get us a cab. I figured he had a kickback deal with the cabbie, so I said okay. He negotiated a flat rate (a fair one, by my experience) with me to the hotel, and I paid him. He got in the front seat with the cabbie while I was getting my luggage into the trunk, presumably making their deal. When I got to the hotel, the cabbie demanded his fare. Turns out, the guy and his buddy flagged down the cab and gave the cabbie some cock and bull story that made it look to me like they were partners, but really he was just scamming me out of cab fare.

  52. rlee says:

    @backbroken: Yep, I attracted a pickpocket — fortunately, a bad one — walking down La Rambla. Hands on my shoulders, tangling his feet with mine while babbling something about “soccer”. I shoved him away as his fingers approached my inside jacket pocket.

    And this, mind you, was right after I’d had my camera bag lifted in the Madrid train station.

  53. TechnoDestructo says:

    @P_Smith:
    4) Use a cell phone with a camera as opposed to a regular camera. The pictures may suffer a little, but cell phones are easier to hide in a pocket instead of a “Steal me, Mr. Thief!” case.

    Sure, if you like shitty pictures. Alternatively, you could get a pocket-sized camera. (Generally, Canon and Panasonic make the best ones)

    (I’ve never had a problem carrying a larger camera anywhere, but then, I’m big and threatening.)

    5) Wear cargo pants or cargo shorts. Zipped/velcro pockets are harder for thieves to open unnoticed. Front and side pockets are also easier for you to see and protect. A custom made pocket on the inside a leg is also a good idea.

    Alternatively, just put a (wide) rubber band around your wallet. It will NOT get out of your pants pocket unnoticed, front especially.

    6) Wear sneakers, not sandals. You can’t run fast after – or away from – a thief while in sandals. Bare feet make easier targets, disabling you while being robbed.

    Flip-flops will slow you down. Proper sandals (support around the ankle, heel, and toes) won’t. Also, if you wear sandals all the time, your feet will get toughened to the point you barely need shoes at all.

    10) Carry non-weapon weapons. If you look threatening to a thief, he may not target you. An umbrella, a plastic soft drink bottle, or even a pen will make good, basic weapons if you are attacked and need to defend yourself.

    Your forehead is harder and stronger than the middle of ANYONE’s face. And if you practice at it, stronger than most people’s foreheads.

  54. TechnoDestructo says:

    From the article:
    PHILADELPHIA Take your GPS device with you when blah blah blah

    Better advice: Visit your local landfill instead of Philadelphia. All of the ambiance, none of the risk.

  55. furseekr says:

    Similar train station story here. I used to work in an office in the train station in Portland, OR. One summer there was a guy who hung out in the outside smoking area telling people he needed a few more dollars to get a ticket. My initial response was sorry, no. The second time a week or so later, I told him that if he was going to work the scam he had to remember who he’s already talked to. He started in a third time, but recognized me and sort of smiled and turned around. Good times.

  56. newspix100 says:

    So does the firehouse T-shirt thing apply to all over the country or just NYC? I’m thinking this could be the start of a GREAT T-shirt collection!

  57. MeOhMy says:

    @P_Smith:

    Use a cell phone with a camera as opposed to a regular camera. The pictures may suffer a little, but cell phones are easier to hide in a pocket instead of a “Steal me, Mr. Thief!” case.

    Absolutely not worth the sacrifice for pics from your once-in-a-lifetime trip! Just get a camera bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag and then be discreet about where and when you whip it out.

    I am a huge maphead and will pretty much wander anywhere if I have a map of the area. I am a huge fan of the Moleskine City notebook series as they have fairly detailed maps uncluttered by advertisements or pointers to tourist attractions, and you don’t look too conspicuous studying a little black notebook. They have a somehwat limited collection still, and if I can’t get a City, I’ll look for a Knopf Mapguide which still looks like a map but is small and easy to carry and use discreetly. If I can’t find a Mpaguide I’ll look for a Pop-Out map – not as detailed but very easy to carry without looking too obvious.

  58. Triborough says:

    @newspix100: It applies for all over the country. Some small town fire departments even have them. I actually discovered them in Boston when the firehouse on Boylston Street had them in the window with a note they were for sale.