Choose Adventure

Safely Navigating the Challenges of Third World Travel

Police Extortion in Bali

Police Extortion in Bali 629 357 Greg Ellifritz

Last week I wrote about a Nigerian police extortion effort targeting gay folks.  In this week’s installment of police corruption news, here is a video of a couple traffic officers extorting a bribe from a Japanese tourist in Bali.


Police Caught On Video Extorting Tourist In Bali


The tourist’s motorcycle headlight didn’t work (during a daytime ride).  The fine for the offense is the US equivalent of $7.  The tourist paid a $60 bribe to get out of the ticket.



If you want information about how to handle interactions like this, I have an entire chapter on the topic in my book Choose Adventure.



Middle East Travel Safety

Middle East Travel Safety 1024 768 Greg Ellifritz

The Middle East is an area of the world where I haven’t spent a lot of time.  I had a wonderful trip to Jordan in 2019.  I also spent a couple weeks in Egypt way back in 2007.  I would have no qualms about the safety of visiting either of those countries today.

If we go a little farther afield, my expertise is minimal.  Fortunately for you, the folks from the Against the Compass wrote up a compendium of safety information for all of the Middle Eastern countries.


If you are looking to travel there, please check out the article linked below.




The Favelas in Rio

The Favelas in Rio 1200 800 Greg Ellifritz

Rio de Janeiro is one of my favorite cities in the world.  So far, I’ve visited the city five times.  As Brazil is one of the few countries still open to US travelers, I might be making another trip down there later this year.


The city’s slums are called favelas.  They contain a stunning mixture of hard working people, cops, and criminal drug gangs.  The article below provides a great description of what’s going on in these vibrant neighborhoods.  If you like Brazilian culture, I think you’ll enjoy it.


Four Decades of Terror: Rio de Janeiro’s Never-Ending ‘Drug War’


“As informal, self-built communities, favelas exist outside the regulated city. Services like water and electricity are typically pirated from the main grid and not paid for. The persistent failure of Brazil to incorporate favelas into official society keeps them vulnerable and condemned to exploitation by criminals, police, and politicians, in many cases these working together. Although the 20th-century drug boom worsened the situation, by entrenching violence and the interests of crime and corruption, it is far from a modern phenomenon.”


I did formal favela tours on two of my trips to Rio.



Walking on a sidewalk between favela houses. Most favelas have no roads and residents walk in narrow passageways like this to get to their "house."

Walking on a sidewalk between favela houses. Most favelas have no roads and residents walk in narrow passageways like this to get to their “house.”


The favelas are Rio de Janeiro’s low rent slums.  You would be astounded at how few amenities were present in such a rich city.  The favelas don’t have running water.  Most electricity is “stolen” by running a wire out to a traffic signal on the “street” in front of the residents’ shacks.  Most Brazilian favelas are completely controlled by drug gangs.


Some have been “pacified” by police intervention.  Over the years I have spent time in both types.  While “pacification” is a controversial topic among Brazilians, it was clear to me that the pacified favelas were very different than those run by the drug gangs.


Looking up at all the home electrical connections in the favela.

Looking up at all the home electrical connections in the favela.


On my most recent trip, I visited two pacified favelas, Vila Canoas and Rochina.  They were quite safe and doing brisk (drug free) business.  Unlike when I visited favelas controlled by drug gangs, there was no need to watch out for warring drug dealers or snipers on the roof.  It was actually safe to take photographs in the pacified favelas.  It was quite different from when I toured the same favelas when they were run by drug gangs in 2007.


Rochina, Rio's largest favela with about 150K residents.

Rochina, Rio’s largest favela with about 150K residents.


If you make it to Brazil, I’d highly recommend taking a guided tour of some favelas.  Don’t go there on your own.  If you are especially adventurous, you can try going to a night time “Baile Funk” dance party.  It is a unique cultural experience.


Generational Travel Differences

Generational Travel Differences 700 394 Greg Ellifritz

Some very funny and painfully accurate realities shared through humorous drawings.  They will make you laugh.




Boomers vs. Gen Z Traveling Internationally


Remote Work Visas

Remote Work Visas 1200 800 Greg Ellifritz

If you want to truly live in another country, you’ll likely need something other than the standard tourist visa.  Getting work visas and/or official residency has long been a difficult process in a lot of places.


If you are a freelancer or “Digital Nomad” you may be able to apply for a newer class of remote work visas that will allow you to live in your country of choice a little longer.


The Expert Vagabond details the process of obtaining one of these visas in 10 different countries.  Check out the information at the link below.

10 Countries With Digital Nomad & Remote Work Visas


African Police Extortion Efforts

African Police Extortion Efforts 641 358 Greg Ellifritz


According to this article Nigerian Police Officers are using the pandemic as an excuse to harass the LGBTQ community, forcing them to pay their way out of trouble..


Nigerian Police Are Extorting People Who ‘Look Gay’


If you aren’t gay and vacationing in sunny Nigeria, why should you care?


You should care because this is the way corrupt foreign cops/soldiers extort everyone.  This month they are extorting gay folks.  They will use the same tactics next month to get bribe money from “drug users,”  foreign tourists, or people they suspect having Covid-19.  The rationale for the extortion is always something different, but the net effects are the same.

Take some time to read this story and come up with a plan to handle similar situations.


Would you get on the bus like these folks did?


Would you unlock your phone?


Would you pay the $200 bribe?


Have you considered that your personal appearance could make you the target of corrupt police officers?


You should think about all these issues before your next international trip.


Dying Abroad?

Dying Abroad? 1024 575 Greg Ellifritz

Have you ever thought about what might happen if you die abroad?  I have to admit that I haven’t thought about it much.  I have no spouse or children.  I honestly don’t care what happens to my body after I die.


If you are more concerned, might I suggest reading the following article?


What happens if I die abroad?


Cheap Airport Parking?

Cheap Airport Parking? 696 464 Greg Ellifritz

Despite the ease of availability of ride sharing apps and taxis, I prefer to drive to the airport and park there.


I’m worried that the Uber or taxi driver will see my luggage, combine that with my airport destination and come to the conclusion that my house is going to be empty for a while.  I think it exposes me to an unnecessary risk of burglary.


When I travel internationally, I do not carry a gun.  Especially in our contentious times, I may want a gun immediately available upon my return home.  I keep a spare pistol locked in a lockbox which is securely attached to a structural component of the car.  If I need to “gun up” immediately upon landing, I can do so.  I can’t do that if I call an Uber.  DO NOT LEAVE AN UNSECURED GUN IN YOUR PARKED VEHICLE!


For $20 you can keep your gun out of a criminal’s hands


So I usually drive myself to the airport.  Finding cheap parking for long vacations can be challenging.  The website 10X Travel recently provided some information that will help find the cheapest parking option at every airport.  Check it out at the article below.



8 Websites That Help You Find Airport Parking for Cheap


Travel in the Old Days

Travel in the Old Days 1152 550 Greg Ellifritz

I first started traveling internationally around the turn of the last century.  At that time, I had a cell phone that charged me $9 a minute for international calls.  There were no smart phones and Google Maps was only available on a computer.

It was a different world then, but it was nothing like what travel was like in the 1960s-1980s.


The article below shares the adventures of several women who traveled internationally 40+ years ago.  We really don’t appreciate how easy we have it today.


What Solo Travel Was Like Before Smartphones and Google Maps

Coming Back to the USA Just Got Easier

Coming Back to the USA Just Got Easier 704 492 Greg Ellifritz

For the last six months, all US citizens flying back to the USA  from Europe, Brazil, and China have been funneled through one of only 15 American airports.  Those airports were equipped for the “advanced Covid-19 screening” the government deemed necessary for travelers coming from high risk countries.


As of today, this rule is no longer in effect.  The government has essentially stopped screening incoming passengers for illness.  Of course, this new ruling was leaked.  The government seems to want to limit this information to avoid public outcry.  The news broke on the websites below.  Read more about the change there.

New COVID Screening Policies for International Passengers Flying Into U.S.


White House orders end to COVID-19 airport screenings for international travelers