If you’ve traveled a lot, you’ll understand this list on a visceral level. If not, I hope after reading it, you’ll be inspired to see more of the world. This is a good article and I think my readers will enjoy it.
How I Almost Got Arrested in Turkeyhttps://i0.wp.com/www.chooseadventurebook.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/4018033830_fe84763027_b.jpg?fit=1024%2C768&ssl=11024768Greg EllifritzGreg Ellifritzhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/e0796fbe64c5c54764b80b72b3148061?s=96&d=mm&r=g
I got back a few days ago from a 10-day trip to Turkey. I’ll have a full article about my trip posted next week, but until then I need to share some critical information for you shooters who travel by air.
After getting your boarding passes and checking your luggage, you must again go through a traditional airport screening system. On international flights, the Turkish equivalent of the TSA also hand searches each passengers carry-on bags and physically pats each passenger down before they get on the plane. It’s quite a process.
The 2016 Istanbul attackers
I fly a lot. I’ve taken a total of 53 flights already this calendar year. I also flew two previous domestic flights in Turkey earlier in my trip, so I was familiar with their special security procedures and had optimized my packing to get through smoothly.
I put my carry-on and checked bags on the screening machine’s conveyor belt. I had no metal on my person, so I walked through the metal detector without an alarm. I waited on the other side of the detector for my bags to come out the other side of the X-ray machine. My carry-on came through with no problem, but my checked bag was flagged for extra screening. Security asked me to open the suitcase. When I did, the security guard removed my large medical kit and a bag of liquids, separating them from the rest of the suitcase contents.
That didn’t seem unusual and I patiently waited when they ran the med kit, the liquids, and the suitcase all through the X-ray machine separately.
The screener started yelling in Turkish and suddenly two Turkish National Police officers appeared and greeted me in a friendly manner.
The screeners seemed a bit excited but the cops seemed relaxed and were smiling. The problem was that none of them spoke any English (maybe more accurately described as the problem was that I didn’t speak any Turkish). They were all repeating a single word when talking to me. I tried to explain that I didn’t understand what they were saying.
One of the cops removed the magazine from his pistol and pointed to a cartridge (Turkish cops carry ball ammo in their guns, by the way) and then pointed to my bag. The other cop pulled up Google translate on his phone and typed a single word. It was “bullet.” Apparently they had seen a bullet in my checked bag on the X-ray image.
Shit. That wasn’t good.
What the Turkish cop showed me. He was pointing to the top round in the magazine and then at my bag.
I shook my head “no.” I was absolutely certain that I didn’t have any ammunition in my bag.
As I wrote about in my book, I have a very specific procedure to ensure that I don’t take firearms or ammunition into other countries. I use a separate set of luggage for traveling in foreign countries. I NEVER use those bags for traveling domestically or for hauling guns/ammo to the range. Additionally, before I pack for each trip, I start with completely empty bags so I know nothing could possibly be left over from any previous trips. I had followed my protocol meticulously when packing for this trip.
Besides, my luggage had already been screened on each of the three separate flights I took earlier in the trip and no one noticed anything alarming. There was no way I had a bullet in my bag.
The screeners and cops ran my bag through the machine several more times. They tore everything apart and couldn’t find what they were looking for. The process was taking a long time. They had been tearing my bag apart for about 15 minutes when the cop with Google translate on his phone started typing.
He typed: “Bullets are prohibited.”
I replied: “I don’t have any bullets.”
Trying to personalize the interaction and ensure that the cop knew he wasn’t dealing with a criminal, I typed: “I am a police officer in the United States.”
His reply was: “This isn’t America. Bullets are prohibited, even for USA police.”
Ouch. This interaction wasn’t going well at all.
The screeners continued going through my bags until they found what they were looking for. In the pocket of a pair of shorts I hadn’t worn on the trip, they found a speed strip loaded with six rounds of .22 magnum ammo.
Similar to what I had in the pocket of a pair of shorts
A couple weeks previously, I had gone hiking and had carried my Smith and Wesson 351C .22 magnum revolver. I tossed a speed strip full of extra ammo in my pocket. I had forgotten to remove the speed strip. It had been through the washer and dryer. The ammo was so light that I packed the pair of shorts without noticing that there was a loaded speed strip in the pocket. I didn’t wear the shorts on my trip and didn’t have a chance to notice the pocket contained ammunition.
The cop was looking at the strip and appearing very confused. He clearly didn’t know what it was. There probably aren’t many folks carrying spare rounds for a .22 magnum in Turkey. I quickly started typing on my phone.
The cop nodded his head, trashed the speed strip and walked away without saying anything more.
I have no idea if I had received some international “professional courtesy” or if that was their normal response to idiot Americans who bring ammo into their country. Either way, I’m grateful the cop chose not to make an arrest for what was clearly a criminal violation in his country.
I never thought to check my clothing for contraband before packing for an international trip. I will be sure to check every piece of clothing I throw in the suitcase before my next vacation. If you are a shooter who regularly carries spare ammo in clothing pockets, you should too.
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Uber in Foreign Countrieshttps://i0.wp.com/www.chooseadventurebook.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/Uber.webp?fit=1200%2C900&ssl=11200900Greg EllifritzGreg Ellifritzhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/e0796fbe64c5c54764b80b72b3148061?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Uber has been a complete game changer for me when traveling in foreign countries. By not using a cab, I avoid the overcharging “gringo tax,” reduce my chance of robbery, and avoid fumbling around with cash trying to pay the driver in a sketchy neighborhood. These articles below give you some strategies that will make using Uber even cheaper.
I am seeing more and more cases of drunk/high/crazy people causing disturbances on flights. It’s useful to prepare for such an altercation.
Here is an informative discussion about how the author handled a drunk and belligerent passenger seated next to him on the plane. I personally would have changed seats. You can’t escape a plane in the air. Moving as far away from the drunk guy as possible shows your attempt to deescalate the situation. If he presses the confrontation, he will be more clearly seen as the aggressor.
Do your best not to engage with the drunk and high people on your flight. It’s not worth the aggravation. Remember that protecting others on the flight isn’t your responsibility. Get yourself out of the hot seat and let the flight attendants deal with his obnoxious behavior.
Fighting Police Corruption in Mexicohttps://www.chooseadventurebook.com/wp-content/themes/crocal/images/empty/thumbnail.jpg150150Greg EllifritzGreg Ellifritzhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/e0796fbe64c5c54764b80b72b3148061?s=96&d=mm&r=g
In the short YouTube clip below, you’ll find Paul’s approach to handling traffic stops in Mexico. Download the document he linked to in his comments. This might save you some big hassles if you live or drive in Mexico.
International Travel with Gunshttps://i0.wp.com/www.chooseadventurebook.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Plane-Landing-e1514312354982.jpg?fit=600%2C450&ssl=1600450Greg EllifritzGreg Ellifritzhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/e0796fbe64c5c54764b80b72b3148061?s=96&d=mm&r=g
I travel internationally quite a bit, but I’ve never traveled outside the country with a gun. This article provides a good outline of the procedures you need to follow to stay out of jail.
Pay attention if you intend on traveling outside the USA with a firearm.
International Travel Safetyhttps://i0.wp.com/www.chooseadventurebook.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/FireShot-Webpage-Capture-008-Around-the-Globe_-Tips-to-Make-Your-International-Travel-Safer-ITS-Tactical-www.itstactical.com_.png?fit=828%2C674&ssl=1828674Greg EllifritzGreg Ellifritzhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/e0796fbe64c5c54764b80b72b3148061?s=96&d=mm&r=g
The article linked below contains generally good advice for international travel and is worthy of your read.
The only thing I don’t always agree with is the author’s advice to sit in a cab directly behind the driver.
It depends on the situation. In some neighborhoods, cab travel is too expensive for the locals. If they see an obvious passenger, they know that guy has money. In those neighborhoods, sitting up front with the driver makes the locals think he is driving a friend and not a customer with a bunch of cash. That may save you from a robbery attempt.
When sitting in the back, I like sitting opposite the driver. Any carjacking attempts are going to be coming from the driver’s side. Being able to exit with the cover of the car between you and the carjacker is a good thing.
Besides that, your most likely threat in most third world countries is the driver himself. Sitting opposite the driver makes it a lot harder for him to impede your exit should you have to bolt.
Grocery Baggers in the Developing Worldhttps://i0.wp.com/www.chooseadventurebook.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/IMG_1088.jpg?fit=1280%2C1062&ssl=112801062Greg EllifritzGreg Ellifritzhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/e0796fbe64c5c54764b80b72b3148061?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Have you ever thought about tipping the folks who bag your purchases at the grocery store? If you are from the USA, probably not. But things work differently in other countries.
When visiting these places, it’s important to notice and abide by the social mores in your host country. Doing so will avoid any drama or ill will. It also helps to destroy the “Ugly American” traveler stereotype.
Take a look at the photo below. The people in the Santa hats are bagging groceries at the large supermarket near the condo where I am staying in Mexico. Most of the baggers in the store are senior (or perhaps “señor”?) citizens.
Guess what? They aren’t being paid by the grocery store.
They work entirely for the tips shoppers give them.
This type of “working for tips” gig isn’t universal in any country I’m aware of, but I’ve seen it a lot in Mexico, Colombia, and some of the more impoverished South American countries. I’ve only seen it at the very large chain grocery stores.
Failing to tip these aging baggers is a social faux pas. It’s the foreign equivalent of leaving your shopping cart in the middle of a store’s parking lot instead of in the cart corral. People simply think you are an asshole. That’s not cool when visiting a country where you have few local contacts. If everyone thinks you are rude, you will not have a good travel experience.
How do you know whether or not to tip your baggers? Watch the locals. Pull your head out of your phone and observe what the people in line ahead of you do. Follow suit.
You may also notice small stacks of coins near the bagger. That’s another clue.
There are no set amounts for the tip. Most people just give the bagger the coins they received in change after paying for the groceries. If you are paying with a credit card, give up to a US dollar or so.
I always carry some small coins in my pocket when traveling. They are handy in situations like this where you are expected to give a small tip. You will also need those coins to pay for access to a public toilet in much of the developing world.
Eating Around the Worldhttps://i0.wp.com/www.chooseadventurebook.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Inine_What_Ive_Learned_from_Eating_Abroad_10.05.17.jpg?fit=320%2C221&ssl=1320221Greg EllifritzGreg Ellifritzhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/e0796fbe64c5c54764b80b72b3148061?s=96&d=mm&r=g
A fascinating look at how people in other countries eat differently than we eat in the USA. The article also has some great tips for healthy eating while traveling.
Well worth your time to read if you are either a traveler or a health nut.
If you are mostly interested in international travel, you should also check out this article on South American taxi scams. These are all very common. Use Uber or Lyft instead of relying on local taxis as a gringo.