Masks for Travelers

Masks for Travelers 940 940 Greg Ellifritz

I’ve been traveling a lot lately and am seeing a gradual increase in public mask wearing across the country and worldwide.



I was in Colombia last month.  There were no mask requirements when I arrived.  In less than three weeks, masks were required in the airport and on all flights to and from the country.  At the same time I had friends traveling in Germany, Iceland, and Bali.  All reported that masks were mandatory in those countries when utilizing any type of public transportation.  In fact, Germany is considering reinstating travel restrictions in addition to mandating masks.



Two weeks ago I flew through the Columbus, Ohio airport.  All airport staff (police, airline staff, TSA, restaurant employees) were required to wear masks in the airport.  The US Government even suggested masks as a preventative measure against monkeypox (but later retracted this advice).  Clearly, masks don’t seem to be going anywhere soon.  I worry that they might become mandated everywhere again when Covid-19 kicks up this winter.



I personally question the effectiveness of wearing cloth masks.  I caught Covid last year in Ecuador despite wearing surgical masks in all public places in the country.


Wearing a mask while waiting for a Covid test as I was dying in Ecuador


The evidence is pretty clear that if you really want to protect yourself, you need to wear an N95 or equivalent respirator.  I would never discourage anyone from wearing one of those.  Here are some options for acquiring them.



It’s the cloth masks that bother me.  They seem useless in preventing the wearers from getting sick.  They may have some utility in preventing already sick people from spreading large liquid droplets to uninfected folks.  In my mind, a better option is encouraging sick folks to stay home rather than putting everyone in cloth masks.


Not looking forward to going back to this


Even though I don’t believe the hassle of wearing cloth masks is worth the marginal protection they provide, I don’t like to make waves.  I prefer to be “the grey man” as much as possible.  Nothing attracts unwanted attention from many different types of people than refusing to wear a mask where it is a community standard to be masked in public.



There is another answer.  For the last year, I have been wearing masks made by Fake Masks Worldwide.  The masks are comfortable.  They are super thin and don’t impede my breathing nearly as much as other masks.



While the company makes fake N95 masks and fake surgical masks, I have no experience with those.  I have been wearing the Double Incognito and Triple Incognito masks.  Of the two, I prefer the Triple Incognito.  It’s very easy to breathe through and appears to be more solid than the Double Incognito.


The Triple Incognito Mask


I’ve worn the Triple Incognito all over the world during the pandemic.  No one has ever noticed that it is virtually sheer.  I haven’t found any other masks on the market that are as comfortable to wear.



I will caution you that the Fake Masks Worldwide site is very clearly right-wing and sells items making fun of Progressive politicians.  I just ignore that junk.  I don’t do politics.  Fair warning that if you are left leaning, you probably won’t like the website that sells these masks.



If you’ve taken training with me, you know I’m all about providing people with options.  This is an option for those of you who want to appear like you are complying with mask mandates while still being able to breathe somewhat normally. I think this is a far safer solution that refusing to wear masks and attracting negative attention from folks that may endanger your physical safety.


I set up an affiliate link with the company to get you all a discount if you are interested.  If you buy them through this link, you’ll get a 10% discount on your order.

Gritty Travel Writing

Gritty Travel Writing 1280 871 Greg Ellifritz

Check out the links below.


I like this kind of travel writing. Authors who aren’t afraid to talk about corrupt cops, cockfighting, and prostitution keep my attention much better than those who only show pretty pictures.

This is the grittier side of Ecuador and the D.R.


As a side note, the “ghost town” mentioned in Ecuador is very close to where I was staying last summer when I got sick with Covid-19.


The Other Side of Ecuador 🇪🇨

Notes on the Dominican Republic


Online Training Courses

Online Training Courses 150 150 Greg Ellifritz

One of the good things that has come out of Covid-19 social distancing is that many companies are improving their online training technology.  Those changes can help international travelers.  There are now a plethora of online classes one can take.


I recently found these two article recommending online back country safety and outdoor skills classes.  If you are stuck at home and want to learn new things, these look like great options.  Some of them are even free.

Stay Safe in the Backcountry: Take a Free Online Course

Prepare for Your Next Backcountry Adventure With These Online Outdoor Skills Courses



Travel Quotes

Travel Quotes 1000 1500 Greg Ellifritz

I really enjoy reading motivational quotes.  If you were paying attention, you’ll notice that I introduced every chapter of my book with a relevant quote that helped support the material.


Here are some cool travel quotes that might brighten your day.  Enjoy.


100 Best Travel Quotes of All Time (with Photos & Captions) to Inspire You to Travel the World

Travel Inspiration for a New Year

Travel Inspiration for a New Year 1000 667 Greg Ellifritz

I’d like to start the year with some informative inspiration.  I find quotes to be incredibly motivating.  Here are some very powerful words of wisdom to consider in the new year.


The 77 most inspirational travel quotes ever penned


My favorite is the quite simple, but profound advice from the Dalai Lama:

21. “Once a year, go somewhere you’ve never been before.”
The Dalai Lama


If everyone would follow that advice, most people would be far more happy.


I wish you all the best in 2021.



A Funny Travel Narrative

A Funny Travel Narrative 790 489 Greg Ellifritz

I  laughed as I read this story and thought you folks might enjoy it as well.  I could easily see something like this happening during one of my travels.  So far I’ve been lucky.  I’ve slept in some nasty places, but I’ve never booked a room in a brothel before.


Sleeping In An Ethiopian Brothel. By Accident.

Earthquake Survival

Earthquake Survival 693 494 Greg Ellifritz



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)




Condoms for Travelers

Condoms for Travelers 636 848 Greg Ellifritz
I’ve had some questions from readers about the strong recommendations in my book to bring condoms from home when traveling.


Condoms are notoriously difficult to find in developing countries.  The locally-made rubbers that you can find will have a much higher breakage rate than condoms manufactured in the USA, Europe, and Japan.


Condom sizes are also different from what you might find in the USA.   Condoms in Asia and South America are sized several millimeters smaller in both length and diameter than their counterparts in the United States.  Asian “large” size condoms are sized smaller than the “regular” sized condoms found in the USA.


Additionally, if you are latex sensitive, you are unlikely to find any non-latex alternative condoms in the developing world.  You will stay much safer from sexually transmitted infections if you bring condoms from your home country.

Then you have issues like this:

Police seize 324,000 used condoms being washed ready to be resold

Thousands of used condoms recycled for illegal sale


Bring condoms from home if there is even the slightest chance you might need one.


Condoms (the unlubricated ones) also work well as emergency water carriers in a survival situation.  It’s useful to carry a few on your travels, even if you don’t plan on using them for their intended purpose.  You can fill a condom with a tremendous amount of water.  If you use this water transportation method in a survival situation, place the condom full of water inside a sock for protection during transport.


Don’t tie the neck like a balloon.   It will be difficult to untie when you need to get to the water.  Use a piece of string or cloth to tie off your emergency water carrier instead.

“Painful urination? You may have a sexually transmitted disease.”
Sign on Brazilian restroom wall. Wear a condom.





Travel Log- Colombia

Travel Log- Colombia 300 225 Greg Ellifritz

*My Travel Log series describes various past travel adventures and provides perspective about living and traveling in different countries.  This particular segment covers a trip through Colombia in 2012.


I just spent the last couple weeks doing some adventure travel through Colombia.  It had been one of the few South American countries that I hadn’t visited.  While there I checked out Bogota, Medellin, Santa Marta, the Tyrona National Park, and Cartagena.  I paraglided for the first time, hiked, swam, body surfed, and attempted to experience as much of the local culture as possible.


Colombia has changed drastically from the days of FARC and Pablo Escobar’s narcotraficantes.  It is one of the safer Latin American countries I’ve visited.  The people are very pleasant and the police are professional.  I would highly encourage those of you with an adventurous spirit to check the country out.  If you are interested in a local guide, shoot me an email.  I can heartily recommend the services of a friend who is a professional tour guide down there.


Since this website is primarily about self defense, firearms, and training issues; I’ll stop rambling about my travel adventures.  I will share some photos that you might find interesting….


From the National Police Museum in Bogota, some guns you’ve probably never seen:


The most obscure collection of break-top revolvers I’ve ever seen.


The local slang for this one is “chongo”…a home made pistol. One of the reasons why gun control laws will never be effective.


Custom stainless steel Iver Johnson Enforcer with an M-2 full auto switch


A 28 gauge revolving shotgun


Since we are talking guns, you may be interested to know what the locals carry.  The national police carry SigPro 9mm pistols in Blackhawk Serpa holsters.  More than half of the National Police (there are no local police forces) in Bogota also carried Galil (an Israeli version of the AK-47) rifles.  The cops in Cartagena carried M-16 A-2s as a supplement to their Sigs, but the M-16 had an empty magazine inserted and a visible yellow empty chamber flag!


All the cops are also armed with a PR-24 style baton, handcuffs, and a radio.  That’s it.  Most of them carry empty spare magazine pouches at the small of their backs.  I never saw any cops with full magazine pouches.


Explosives Detection cops on random patrol in Bogota. Note the empty mag pouches on the belt of the cop on the right.


The national police around the Presidential Palace carry HK G-36 rifles instead of the Galil.


I saw several citizens walking the streets of Bogota with pepper spray in hand and even saw one young man working the front desk of a hotel with an ASP baton sticking out of his jacket pocket.  Security guards were almost always armed with 4″ S&W revolvers, although I saw a few 3″ round butt J-frames on some security guards’ belts.  All the security guards had cartridge loops sewn to the outside of their nylon belt holsters.  The loops were full of round nosed lead .38 special ammo.


According to the police with whom I spoke, it is relatively easy for a citizen to get a gun permit down there.  The guns are limited depending on geographical location.  In the cities,  people can get permits only for handguns.  Rifles and shotguns are not allowed.  In the rural countryside where hunting is common, “almost everyone” has a long gun, but pistols are prohibited.


Medellin, Colombia

Travel Longer

Travel Longer 150 150 Greg Ellifritz

I like this post from Where in the World is Nina.

She writes an article titled 17 Tips to Help You Travel Longer, covering quality strategies for extending your stays in foreign countries.

Check it out.




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