Travel Tips

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.

Night Hiking

Night Hiking 677 683 Greg Ellifritz

One of my favorite activities to do in foreign countries is to go hiking.  I can’t think of many international trips I’ve taken that didn’t have at least some component of hiking involved.

I really like hiking at night as well, but not many people do it.  In fact, the article below is the first article I’ve ever seen on the topic.

 

Hiking at Night? Read This First

 

I will echo the author’s advice about having a good headlamp.  I’ve found it to be essential for traversing wooded areas and when there is little starlight/moonlight in the sky.

 

Enjoy the article.  I’d encourage you to plan a night hike soon.

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

Avoiding Scam Artists at Home and Abroad

Avoiding Scam Artists at Home and Abroad 217 346 Greg Ellifritz

“The bad guy can lure you to an isolated place. This is almost infinitely varied. Anything from offering a cheap, unlicensed cab to telling you that there is a beautiful shrine just down the alley that isn’t on the tourist maps. It’s hard to pass up. I have learned an incredible amount and had some great times because I was willing to be adopted by locals. With this one, watch for isolation. If they are taking you to the best local restaurant, you should see more people as you approach, not less.”– Rory Miller

 

Every location you visit is likely to have a few specific scams that con artists like to pull on people visiting the area.  If you are unfamiliar with the local scams, check your travel guidebook or ask the staff at your hotel.  You could even do an internet search on “scams in (your location).”

 

The majority of scams targeting travelers (either domestic or beyond) have at least some verbal component.  The con artists use words to either reassure the victim or to close distance.  Shawn Smith, in his book “Surviving Aggressive People” classifies these verbal interactions as “testing rituals.”  The testing rituals all have the following similar characteristics:

–          Persistence

–          Talking too much

–          Contradictions between words and actions or behaviors

–          Triggering your intuition (this doesn’t feel right)

 

As a reliable general guideline, any time you are engaged in conversation with a stranger and you notice one or more of those characteristics in the conversation, you should expect that you are being scammed.

Another quick scam identifier is when the scam artist hands you something.  This is always bad.  Don’t ever accept anything that a stranger hands you on the street.  At best, it will be a “gift” to guilt-trip you into donating money for the scam artists’ “charity.”  At worst, it could be a set up for a robbery.

 

I’ve seen that happen in tourist areas of Thailand where scam artists will dress up like fake Buddhist monks and hand travelers cheap “prayer beads” with a request for a donation, usually to support an orphanage.  Besides prayer beads, this scam often targets women with small bracelets, flowers, or even herbs.  The con artist will give the traveler a single flower or a sprig of rosemary and then demand an exorbitant price.  He will make a scene if you don’t pay for it.

 

This scam could end up costing you serious cash if the scammer hands you something valuable and claims that you broke it and demands payment.  Some of the scammers will even have corrupt cops working nearby to pressure you into paying for the “broken” valuable.

 

The best non-specific scam avoidance advice is to avoid accepting any item given to you by a stranger in public.  If approached by a scam artist who uses any of the “testing rituals” identified above, you should walk away.  Be rude if necessary. Keep your hands in your pockets.

 

You should also avoid giving any information about where you are from, where you are staying, or what type of work you do.  All of this information can be used later to construct more elaborate cons.

 

If the con man isn’t working on a long-term scheme, these simple questions become introductions to the testing rituals I mentioned above.  Most people will answer questions from a stranger on the street.  You shouldn’t.  Just stay quiet and keep walking.  Avoid verbally engaging with people you don’t know or with anyone who  initiates conversations with you in public in an uninvited manner.

 

Those three pieces of advice will keep you safe from most scams.  If you want some more information about common ruses, check out my  travel safety book Choose Adventure.  I could never possibly detail every scam you may experience, but in the book, I attempt to explain all of the common hustles that have been foisted upon either me or my travel companions over the years

 

I’ll follow Choose Adventure with a shorter book focusing solely on common travel scams and how to avoid them.  Look for it in the near future.

 

 

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