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Posted by on Oct 27, 2012 in Louisiana, North America, Travel Tips | 4 comments

New Orleans- Believe Dat it’s just a hustle

New Orleans

New Orleans

Every city on the planet has people who are looking for a way to hustle visitors and tourists. New Orleans is no different. In fact, of all the cities I visited in the US, which amounted to over 30 New Orleans was the worst for hustling.

I don’t tell you this to scare you away from the city, to forgo New Orleans if you are traveling the US would be a tragedy. This city was one of my favourites not only in the States but in the world! I simply want to inform my audience with any tips or advice I can from my own experience.

So now that that is said, let me introduce you to:

The Great New Orleans Shoe Shine Hustle!

The shoe shine hustle is one of the more popular hustles in New Orleans and involves a man approaching you when you are alone on one of the more quiet streets usually in the French Quarter. The man will approach you talking very fast so you can barely keep up with what he is saying He will be claiming to be able to guess where you got your shoes and offering a shoe shine for a fee (usually $10 for the shine, $10 for guessing where you got your shoes). He will attempt to get you to agree to this deal and shake his hand.

Even if you do not shake on it, he will persist and the best thing to do is walk away immediately before he squirts your shoes with a strange fluid and begins rubbing (which is what happened to me!)

Once he begins rubbing the oil into your sneakers (which don’t need polishing!) it is all over for you. He will finish, stand up and say: “I told you I could guess where you got your shoes.” Then he will say something along these lines:

“You got your shoes on your feet, on Bourbon St.”

or whichever street you happen to be on.

Now as I said, these guys will get you on your own and it can be intimidating to say no and walk away for fear of being robbed etc. so I urge you to walk away as soon as the situation arises. In the case of my wife and I the hustler was angry after we only gave him a couple of dollars, but I only felt comfortable doing this after having him explain to me: “this is my job. I don’t sells drugs and I don’t mug people.” So we decided to take our chances and he vanished down a side street angrily. Seeing him a couple of nights later carrying wads of twenties it was clear his intimidation works.

New Orleans- French Quarter

New Orleans French Quarter

Like I said, everywhere has a hustle and you cannot miss out on seeing amazing places because of this, so just get educated and keep your wits about you and you’ll do fine. Another tip for New Orleans and some other cities is this:

If someone offers you help, they want a tip!

We had people give us directions, show us where we were on a map or help us with bags up stairs and they all wanted a tip. It’s just the way it is.

New Orleans Bourbon St.

I hope this helps you on your travels and keep an eye out for more world hustles in coming posts. As always Tweet it, FaceBox it, Pin-up it, Stumble over it just make sure you SHARE it!


  1. Oh my goodness! I’ve only been to New Orleans once and the whole atmosphere was pretty intimidating to me. I’ll be driving through the city again in a couple of months. Thanks for the great advice!

    • I know what you mean Mei, it keeps you on your toes. So jealous you are going again, have a good gumbo for me 🙂

  2. A shoe shine hustle! I can’t beleive it (but I can!)

    You have to give them points for inventiveness, even if it does suck to be swindled like that!

    • Oh yeah full points for creativity Stacey. Anything is possible after seeing this one 🙂

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