Hitting the road continental style for a little bit? Eoin Blackbyrne is here to tell you what to be wary of. They see us coming a mile off…

My granny said she’d light a candle for me in the local church while I was away and pray to keep me safe from the sharp teeth of the world. Whether it was the prayers or dumb luck I’ve managed to get around without too much trouble and most of the time I’ve returned home with a shirt on my back, but there were a few times when the snakes have triumphed and stroked a few quid.

Some scams to look out for…

My friend was a surfer. His teeth had suffered for his sport with a surfboard to the face and so he decided to go to Hungary for cheap dental work. He found himself in a bar one night with two beautiful women fawning over him, suggesting that they share some drinks. End of the night the bill arrived. Two grand on champagne. The girls had disappeared and in their place two bouncers who could have worked part time as gorillas, listening to his protests stoney faced. Long story short they escorted him to the A.T.M. and whatever savings he made on dental work were lost on cheap champagne and dirty hookers.

The hungry baby scam seems to be spreading around the world. I encountered it in Vietnam but reports from travellers have placed it in cities throughout the world. The baby is quiet in the young mother’s arms as she pleads with you for money to feed her child. Even the most rigid heartstring is pulled and more often than not some money is handed over. Then when the shift ends the baby is handed over before the cycle begins again. Many times the baby has been drugged to keep it docile for the long hours and in some cases the scammers are carrying a dead baby, relying on the kindness of strangers to line their pockets.

A scam that relies heavily on stupidity, a quality my friend possesses in abundance, is the petrol money scam. I don’t know how widespread it is but this happened in Laois, that international travel mecca, and if you fall victim to it, well, you deserve to. My friend was approached in a petrol station by a foreign gentleman, clearly flustered, who wasted no time in sharing his predicament. He was out of money on the way to his daughter’s wedding and would my friend be interested in buying some jewellery so he could fill his tank? Most people would think twice but not my deep-pocketed friend who wasted no time in shelling out 70 euro for “gold” that Mr T wouldn’t be seen dead wearing.

Ryanair. You know it, I know it, but when the choice is between spending more money for leg room and spending your flight contorted like a circus side show freak there’s always only one option, crawling back begging them to take your money.

Eoin Blackbyrne