Choose Adventure

Safely Navigating the Challenges of Third World Travel

Begpacking?

Begpacking? 470 301 Greg Ellifritz

Have you heard of the latest “begpacking” trend?  It’s when a Western tourist runs out of money in a foreign country and sets up as a beggar asking locals for money.  What a strange phenomenon!

 

I can’t say that I’ve seen this more than a couple times in my travels.

 

For more information, take a look at this article that describes the practice in Thailand.

 

Begpacking is shameless behaviour that is outlawed in Thailand and poisons goodwill between cultures

 

Ignorant, ‘cool’ trend continues

Despite this, this ignorance is now a ‘cool’ trend among hip young millennials some of whom continue to come to Thailand. The activities are insulting to the occupations of Thai men and women as well as their right to a livelihood in their own country, something many of these young people have no understanding of apparently. It also, inherently, deeply disrespectful to the laws of the kingdom.”

 

I haven’t been to Thailand since 2013.  With their crazy Covid-19 restrictions, it doesn’t look like I’ll be going back anytime soon.  I’ll give you a “begpacking” update the next time I make it to Asia.

 

 

Finding “Mistake” Airfares

Finding “Mistake” Airfares 900 600 Greg Ellifritz

Sometimes the airlines screw up.  When that happens, the budget traveler is often able to capitalize on the error.

 

How do you find mistake fares?  Read the article below for some good tips.

 

How To Save Money On Flights With Mistake Fares

The Best Countries for Preppers?

The Best Countries for Preppers? 597 614 Greg Ellifritz

If you are looking at permanently relocating to another country, this article does a deep dive on 12 factors that you may want to consider.

The Best Countries for Preppers: 12 Factors to Consider

 

According to the article, these are the 12 most important factors to consider before your move.

  1. Culture and language
  2. Cost of living
  3. Political stability
  4. Economic stability
  5. Real estate cost
  6. Crime
  7. Laws
  8. Climate and weather extremes
  9. Cost and Quality of Medical Care
  10. Taxation
  11. Pollution and environmental factors
  12. Endemic disease

 

The article discusses each factor individually.

 

I’m betting my readers would be most interested in moving to another country to reduce their cost of living.  Here are the 50 cheapest countries in which to live.  I’ve visited 10 of the 50.  I could live in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, or Vietnam.  I don’t think I’d like to live in many of the others.

 

 

The other issue driving many of my readers’ decisions is that of gun ownership.  Very few countries have gun laws like the USA.

 

 

The article is a good one.  Check it out if you are considering living in another country.

 

 

ATM Skimmers

ATM Skimmers 955 164 Greg Ellifritz

ATM skimmers used to be pretty rare.  They were large contraptions that fit over the outside of the card reader on the ATM.  They were most commonly seen in tourist areas on “stand alone” ATMs that weren’t regularly serviced.  Now it seems that the ATM technicians are installing small bluetooth compatible skimmers to steal your data inside the machines themselves, at least in Mexico.

 

My best advice is to avoid ATMs in obvious tourist areas and to use the ATMs that are inside a bank.  Although not a foolproof strategy, doing this will at least limit your chances of having your card data stolen.

 

One other thing…for foreign travel, you want a traditional ATM card, NOT an ATM debit card.  The traditional cards have daily withdrawal limits so the crooks can’t clean you out.  With the debit card, they can take out more money and charge things to your account.  The traditional ATM card will help limit the damages if your data is stolen.

For more information about skimmers in Mexico, read:

Tracking Bluetooth Skimmers in Mexico

Stress Free Travel

Stress Free Travel 768 432 Greg Ellifritz

I’m outside the USA (generally in some third world place most would consider Hell) about six weeks a year.  The screwed up travel situations that I’ve encountered could fill books.  How do I stay sane?  The same as this guy: “the real secret is that I treat my life as an adventure.

 

Read the article and embrace the concepts for a much more productive trip.

 

 

How to Handle Any Stressful Travel Situation

 

Learning How Moto-Robbers Operate

Learning How Moto-Robbers Operate 735 446 Greg Ellifritz

 

Being an avid traveler and having spent some time in Argentina, several of my friends sent me this video of a recent Buenos Aires robbery that was caught on camera, asking if there were prevention lessons that could be learned for people both at home and traveling abroad.

 

The video is short and worth your time to watch. A Canadian traveler was taking a bicycle tour of Buenos Aires when he was accosted by an armed man riding a motorcycle. The robber was rather inept and didn’t get what he was looking for. The tourist was very lucky, we shouldn’t rely on criminal incompetence to ensure our safety.  Watch the video below:

 

 

What can we learn from this?

 

1) Don’t tempt the criminals. Cycling around with an expensive camera in a third world country is asking to be robbed. Keep anything of value well hidden when out and about in a foreign city. Better yet, leave expensive items in your hotel safe.

 

In Colombia, the locals have a descriptive term for tourists who do things which make it easy for a criminal to victimize them. Colombians call it “dar papaya.” The term literally means “to give papaya.” In other words, you are so vulnerable it’s like giving the criminal a sweet treat. When traveling in foreign countries, don’t “dar papaya.”

 

2) No matter if you are at home or abroad, you should be alert for deliberate approaches in public places. Most people purposely chart a path to maximize space between individuals or groups in a crowded public space. When someone walks (or rides) directly toward you in any public location, your alarm bells should be going off. The motorcyclist here saw the victim and immediately plotted an intercept course to block his path. That’s a bad sign. If you see that happening, you should immediately make an aggressive escape. If escape is impossible, you should be accessing a weapon and getting ready to defend yourself.

 

3) Be especially aware of guys on motorcycles in foreign countries. Robbers commonly use motorcycles to commit their crimes because they can make a quick escape and can’t be easily followed by police on foot or in cars. Motorcycle helmets also hide the robber’s identity and provide protection in case a victim decides to fight back.

 

Most commonly, robbers operate in teams of two. One will drive the motorcycle and one will perform the robbery. If you see two men on the same motorcycle, be especially cautious. You may be getting set up for a robbery attempt.

 

4) Robbers all over the world try to avoid attention. Notice how the robber here picked off the victim when he got separated from the rest of his group. He also was very concerned with keeping his gun close to the body or concealed. He didn’t want anyone else to know what’s going on.

 

Also notice how the robber fled as soon as the other member of the tourist’s bike group got off his bike and approached the two. Anything you do to draw attention to yourself in a criminal attack will likely be beneficial. This guy accidentally benefited by the attention he received. He should have worked harder to make this attention more purposeful.

 

Screaming the word “thief,” “help,” or “no” will get people looking at you. Calmly saying the word “amigo” won’t. Even if you don’t know any of the foreign language, people worldwide understand the word “No” when screamed in loud English.

 

5) Dithering can get you killed. The victim’s fate here was completely at the whim of the robber. The victim took absolutely no control of the situation, leaving his well being to the whims of a criminal psychopath. In third world countries where life is even cheaper than it is here, doing that can have fatal consequences.

 

Make a conscious decision and act. Whether you choose to comply, resist, or flee, any action you take is better than leaving your fate in the hands of a criminal.

 

6) Knowing some of the local language is tremendously helpful. The robber kept saying “sacate la mochila,” instructing the victim to “take off the backpack.”

 

The victim clearly didn’t understand and thought the robber wanted his bicycle. Misunderstanding the language could have been seen as resistance by the robber. It’s one thing to decide to resist and to do it. It’s something completely different to be killed because you never learned any of the local language.

 

Wherever I travel, I try to learn as much of the language as possible. I generally use the audio programs by Pimsleur to quickly gain some proficiency in the language of the country in which I am traveling. Don’t be the clueless, naive, American (or Canadian). Learn some of the local language. It may save your life.

 

 

US Knife Laws

US Knife Laws 1024 576 Greg Ellifritz

Most of this blog focuses on foreign travel.  With that said, I realize a lot of you prefer to travel in the USA instead.  If your destination state does not have a reciprocity agreement with your home state in regards to concealed carry, many of you will choose to carry a knife for self protection in lieu of your firearm.

 

It may be useful to know each state’s knife laws before you carry there.

 

Staying out of jail is a good thing.

 

Knife Laws and Regulations of All 50 States

 

 

Hostage Escape Tools and Techniques

Hostage Escape Tools and Techniques 535 608 Greg Ellifritz

When traveling in dangerous areas, I think it’s useful to carry some hidden escape tools.  This article covers some of the better options on the market.  I have all of the tools recommended and carry them regularly in hazardous situations.

Hostage Escape Tools and Techniques

A Little Extra Hotel Room Security

A Little Extra Hotel Room Security 320 301 Greg Ellifritz

This little trick might buy you some time if someone tries to use a passkey or hack your electronic hotel room lock.  I also generally travel with a rubber doorstop that I wedge under the door from the inside.  It won’t hold back a SWAT team, but it will give you a few more moments to act.

 

Hotel Room Key Hacks… a Simple Fix

 

 

 

 

Travel Scam Avoidance

Travel Scam Avoidance 751 271 Greg Ellifritz

Until I found the article below, I had never seen the website “Ranker.”  It seems to essentially crowd source tips from the public and readers vote those tips up or down.  The travel scam avoidance tips that had the most “thumbs up” were shared in the article below.

 

Although I may quibble about some of the fine details in a few tips, overall, this is high quality advice.

 

Tips To Help Tourists From Getting Scammed On Vacation