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Greg Ellifritz

Learn Some Chinese

Learn Some Chinese 657 664 Greg Ellifritz

I think it’s really important for all travelers to learn at least a few words of the language spoken in their vacation destination countries.  There are lots of good ways to learn.  I prefer using either DuoLingo or The Pimsleur Audio lessons.

You can also learn some words the original way, by simply studying them.

 

The link below is a great resource for learning some elementary Chinese before your next trip to Asia.

 

108 Basic Chinese Words: Essential Chinese Vocab for Beginners

 

 

Airline Boarding Passes

Airline Boarding Passes 580 250 Greg Ellifritz

As more and more people are using cell phone apps to display boarding passes, this problem may eventually become non-existent.  If, however, you still use printed boarding passes, you should probably shred, burn, or otherwise destroy them.  Do not leave them laying around your airplane seat of casually toss them in the trash can at your destination gate.

According to the article linked below, there is a massive amount of personal information available on your boarding passes.

 

What’s in a Boarding Pass Barcode? A Lot

 

““Besides his name, frequent flyer number and other [personally identifiable information], I was able to get his record locator (a.k.a. “record key” for the Lufthansa flight he was taking that day,” Cory said. “I then proceeded to Lufthansa’s website and using his last name (which was encoded in the barcode) and the record locator was able to get access to his entire account. Not only could I see this one flight, but I could see ANY future flights that were booked to his frequent flyer number from the Star Alliance.”

The access granted by Lufthansa’s site also included his friend’s phone number, and the name of the person who booked the flight. More worrisome, Cory now had the ability to view all future flights tied to that frequent flyer account, change seats for the ticketed passengers, and even cancel any future flights.

The information contained in the boarding pass could make it easier for an attacker to reset the PIN number used to secure his friend’s Star Alliance frequent flyer account. For example, that information gets you past the early process of resetting a Star Alliance account PIN at United Airline’s “forgot PIN” Web site.”

 

Be careful out there.

 

Pillars of Awareness

Pillars of Awareness 2658 675 Greg Ellifritz

Correctly judging the mood of the crowd is more difficult in foreign cultures.  There are, however, a few social constants upon which you can rely almost everywhere in the world.

 

The best resource for learning these constants and social “rules” is the book Left of Bang.  The authors of that book successfully taught the material to US soldiers and Marines stationed in hot zones all around the world.

 

If you don’t want to read the book, I would suggest the summary article linked below.

 

Applying the Pillars to Your Everyday Life

 

The article discusses individual behavioral analysis by focusing on “clusters” of characteristics that allow you to determine if a person is comfortable/uncomfortable and dominant/submissive.  Those factors will help you evaluate the target’s intention and attitude towards you.

 

It’s well worth your time to read.

 

 

The AK-47

The AK-47 682 383 Greg Ellifritz

The most common rifle you will see in service among both military groups and criminals is the ubiquitous AK-47.

A well-informed traveler should know a little bit about this rifle and how it works.

Many of the AK questions you’ve had for a long time are answered in the article below.  It’s worth reading if you have any interest at all in AK-style rifles.

 

21 Important Questions & Answers About the AK-47

Wound Closure with Super Glue

Wound Closure with Super Glue 225 225 Greg Ellifritz

In very remote areas without available medical attention, it might be necessary to close a wound.  Doing so with steri-strips is the easiest method, but steri-strips don’t always work in extremely wet conditions.

 

The next best option is to use a tissue glue.  Super Glue or Crazy Glue is of a very similar chemical composition and may be easier to find.  I always carry a tube of the gel superglue in my third world first aid kit.

 

The article below goes into great detail about how to effectively use the glue to close a laceration.  Highly recommended.

 

Skin Glue in Survival

Living in Romania

Living in Romania 600 411 Greg Ellifritz

In continuing my series of articles for people who want to live full time in another country, I stumbled upon this article about ex-pat life in Romania.

 

The Cost of Living in Romania as an Expat

 

I haven’t ever visited Romania, but I will certainly try to get there in the next few years.  It looks like a very pleasant country.  With costs of living about 50% of those in the USA, it might be a cheap way to live on a fixed income in another country’s currency.

Faster Global Entry Processing

Faster Global Entry Processing 610 457 Greg Ellifritz

I enrolled in Global Entry about a year ago.  It was worth the hassle of traveling 90 minutes to the closest processing center for a 10 minute interview and fingerprint scan.  It’s allowed me to re-enter the USA much faster than my previous attempts.

 

The problem for most people is scheduling the interview with CBP officers.  There are limited sites with limited appointment windows.  Sometimes it takes months to get on the interview schedule.

 

CBP added a new feature called “Appointment Scanner.”  It monitors for open interview appointments that pop up due to last-minute cancellations. When they find an appointment that fits your requirements, you’ll receive a text message or email (or both – your choice). This alert has a link to the Global Entry scheduler website, where you can login and claim the appointment.

 

Read more about the program at the article below.

 

How To Get A Global Entry Appointment Faster

 

While you are on his site, you may also be interested in his list of credit card offers that will pay for your Global Entry Fee.

Marine Animal Bites and Stings

Marine Animal Bites and Stings 768 506 Greg Ellifritz

Adventure travelers often play in the ocean.  Ocean snorkeling, diving, swimming, surfing, and kayaking all expose on to the chance of being bitten or stung by some aquatic critters.

 

Over the years, I’ve experienced many of these envenomations.  Lots of jellyfish stings.  My sea kayaking tour guide got stung by a stingray in Belize.  It laid him up for a couple days.  This can be very serious stuff if you aren’t careful.

 

Even those of you who visit “tame” locations should still be cautious.  Last month I wanted to test my new snorkel mask before taking an ocean excursion.  I waded into the ocean off the beach of our five-star resort in Cancun.  I was in water about three feet deep and dove in.  I was instantly face to face with a pissed off stingray.  I’m amazed I didn’t get stung.

 

This is a compilation of simple first aid tips for handling marine animal bites and stings in the field.

 

Marine Animal Bites and Stings

Earthquake Survival

Earthquake Survival 693 494 Greg Ellifritz

I have an entire chapter in my book titled: SURVIVING EARTHQUAKES, TSUNAMIS, AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS.

 

You should know in advance if you are traveling in an earthquake-prone country.  If you are, it is prudent to identify nearby earthquake emergency shelters in advance.  These shelters are often pre-identified in tourist areas and hotels.  Pay attention to the signs so that you know where to go should the ground start moving.

The international symbol for a safe area in the event of an earthquake is a sign with a green cross-hatched design.

 

If you are caught outside a shelter area, cover your head/neck with your arms to protect yourself from falling objects.  It goes without saying that you should avoid areas that have heavy objects overhead.  Remove anything hanging on the wall near your bed so that you aren’t crushed in your sleep.  If you are inside a building, take cover under a very heavy table against an inside wall or in a sturdy (load bearing) doorway.   Move away from windows.   If you are in a mall or larger department store, stay away from the tall display cases and larger panes of glass. Crowded venues like sporting arenas should be avoided.  The panicked crowd will likely cause more injuries than the earthquake itself.

 

As soon as you recognize that an earthquake may be happening or is immanent, find adequate shelter and gather both your first aid kit and a bright flashlight/headlamp.  Those items will likely be the first things that you need should your sheltering structure be damaged by the quake.

 

If the electricity goes out, don’t use open flames for cooking or for light.  There is a good chance that natural gas lines have ruptured in the quake.  You really don’t want to blow yourself up.

 

Expect aftershocks.  Some of these will be as bad as the initial earthquake.  Be alert for the possibility of flooding or tsunamis after an earthquake.  If you are in a low-laying area or coastal region, move to higher ground.

 

Want some more information?  Read my friend Daisy’s article:

How to Survive an Earthquake (and Its Aftermath)

 

 

 

Ex-Pat Tax Issues

Ex-Pat Tax Issues 739 416 Greg Ellifritz

My favorite Mexican expat travel bloggers at Two Expats Mexico recently published a couple of great articles about tax issues for those of you who live in another country.

 

The first covers tax reporting requirements for US citizens who have foreign bank accounts.

What Americans With Foreign Bank Accounts Should Know About Annual Reporting Requirements

 

The second covers the extremely valuable foreign earned income exclusion.  So long as you are an American citizen living full time in another country (defined by being outside the USA 330 days or more in a calandar year) you are exempt from US income tax on the first $107K of your income.

 

What Americans Working Abroad Should Know About Foreign Earned Income Exclusion