It is not easy to know you are in a tourist trap: The problem with a tourist trap is the inflated cost can triple, or make things cost as much as 30 time more than what is a good value.
Example of Tourist Trap Mentality:
"Duty Free Shop."
The cost of items are duty free, however seldom are the items cheap enough to warrant being purchased. There may be 2-3 items that if purchase could be taken into the next country at a discount, but somehow they try to convince you they are giving value, when they are not.
Tourist Trap Live Abroad Locations with Same Cost as USA
There are many expatriate, or foreigner colonies where the cost of living is only 10 to 20 percent less than living in the USA. The rule of thumb is this, the wages of 85 percent of planet are less than 10-15 dollars per day. If you are hiring anyone in a poorer country and you are paying 10-15 per hour, you are overpaying.
How to know you are in a tourist trap overseas?
1. The cost of laundry is more than 3-5 U.S. dollar.
2. The money changer or touts scream at you, they are not looking for long-term relationships, and tourists are only short terms, they do not care if they offend.
3. Money Changers, the smart tourist uses a ATM machine.
4. Rental Cars everywhere.
5. The cost of a taxi is more than one U.S. Dollar per mile or kilometer, please try to remember here, I am talking about 85 percent of the planet, the undeveloped portion.
6. There are no prices on things to buy, the vendors want to be able to look at you and decide how much they can gouge.
7. Taxis honk at you and holler at you, they do not care about feelings, there is no repeat business.
8. Menus are front of the restaurants.
9. Laundry cost per piece of clothing, or the locals will charge 10 USD per load of laundry. Generally, on the planet a person can have all the clothing in a normal size bag washed for under five USD, more than that, and you are in a tourist trap mentality of cost.
Tourist Trap Defined: A tourist trap is an establishment, or group of establishments, that has been created with the aim of attracting tourists and their money. Tourist traps will typically provide services, entertainment, souvenirs and other products for tourists to purchase, and these will often be at inflated prices (compared to the local economy).
While the term may have negative connotations for some, such establishments may be viewed by tourists as fun and interesting diversions.
Tourist traps in the US
As with elsewhere, tourist traps in the US provide an opportunity to separate a consumer from their money and are oriented primarily toward non-native or non-local consumers. But in the US, a tourist trap typically refers to a diversion from a genuine point of interest. Because the tourist is on his or her way to a particular attraction, the tourist trap will either offer a distinctly contrary experience or an allied experience. They will offer up "unique" natural or artificial features (the "World's Largest Ball of Twine" or "Silver Springs") that can only be had at the particular stop, and will then offer up conveniences or activities to entertain and capitalize upon the stopped tourist.
Typically goods available for purchase will include souvenirs and curiosities adorned with the name of the establishment and or local points of interest. Additional products may include the normal range of items found in a gift shop.
Activities at US tourist traps vary greatly based in part on the surrounding economy and infrastructure. In some areas like Shaming, Michigan, Flush toilets may be a sufficient draw to entice tourist to stop as they are not readily available at many tourist facilities in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Wall Drug, in South Dakota, began its tourist trade simply by offering ice water. In other locations like Anaheim, California more robust activates are required to draw a tourist to a specific activity over a competitor's activity. Other activities may include thematic restaurants, arcade games, wax museums, collections of unique artifacts, and so on.
Tourist traps range significantly in size, from a single tree to the city of Las Vegas, Nevada. There may be valid arguments to include traps that are bigger or smaller than these as well.