Tag Archives: advice

5 top countries for travelers hoping to avoid extradition

With tax season just over, now is the busiest time of the year for travel to the two-dozen countries that have no extradition treaty with the U.S. To help travelers on the run chose which country is right for them — whether for a life-time stay or just until a statue of limitations runs out — we’ve once again put together our top 5 under-the-radar picks for anyone hoping to avoid extradition.

Maldives

With predictions that a rising sea level may result in its disappearance by 2085, this Indian Ocean nation has more to worry about than what your back-story might be. So unless there’s a possibility that somebody is willing to trade you for a Russian arms dealer, you’ll pretty much be left alone. Come here for the sun, the beaches, and the high-end resorts so pricey that to afford them you practically have to have stolen a serious amount of something.

Many of the resorts, such as the Huvafen Fushi, have overwater bungalows with glass panels in the floors for viewing sea life, and, if necessary, a quick escape. Be careful, though, whenever counting large stacks of money in your room, as the panels often make it easy for passing snorkelers to view your life. For an American, the Maldives, despite its distance, is not a perfect home away from home. Talk of opening a string of international fast-food restaurants at the airport has so far come to nothing. And getting re-runs of Keeping Up with the Kardashians is sometimes difficult. But if you are here for the long stay, converting to Islam can help, as can being religious about applying SPF 50.

China

While there is a misperception that Western travelers with a criminal background are not welcome in China, the opposite is often true, especially if the travelers arrive bearing significant trade secrets. Even if you have nothing to barter, a population of 1.4 billion makes it easy to get lost in the crowd. And should you run afoul of Chinese authorities, a prison population that includes more than 6,000 foreign inmates means you will sometimes be able to barter in English for cigarettes. Americans will find much about China to remind them of home, including Subway (440 outlets) McDonalds (1,964 outlets), KFC (5,854 outlets), and the Great Wall (0 outlets).

United Arab Emirates

Whoever said money can’t buy happiness has never considered avoiding extradition by fleeing to the United Arab Emirates. In the UAE, money can buy a $1,223 cupcake, a $24,000 per night hotel suite, and an $8 million (diamond-studded) cell phone. Gold-plated SUV’s are not that rare, Lamborghini police cars are not unheard of. Still, the law is Islamic law, so don’t spend money on alcohol consumed outside of a bar, restaurant, or sporting venue, or anything that’s any fun at all during Ramadan.

Russia

A tall latte at Starbucks in Moscow costs twice what it does in New York City. And you can be riding in the back seat of a taxi one moment and in the trunk the next, on the way to have your vital organs removed for profit. But beyond those niggling kinds of concerns, Russia is just about ideal for anyone looking for a new identity to call their own. In Moscow, live quietly but comfortably in the luxury of such accommodations as the Ritz-Carlton, where your personal butler and his government minder will soon know your name.

Become familiar with Red Square, the Bolshoi Theatre, and Saint Basil’s Cathedral, whose distinctive domes are recognized worldwide as the inspiration for the American news organization, The Onion. At the Kremlin, pass a pleasant hour, perhaps with a small group of friends, contemplating the unauthorized removal of the 190-caret Orlov Diamond on display there. And if it becomes time to get out of town, what traveler doesn’t imagine a journey on the Trans Siberian Railway? Just make sure you ask for a round trip ticket.

Bhutan

For relieving the stress often associated with traveling to avoid extradition, there may be no better destination than Bhutan. One of three countries in the world with no diplomatic relations at all with the U.S. (Iran and North Korea are the other two) this Himalayan hideaway allows you to conduct your affairs with the assurance that the only place you are ever likely get snatched to is heaven. One of the highlights of a Bhutan stay is a visit to the sacred, and isolated, cliff-side Buddhist monastery of Taktshang, or the Tiger’s Nest.

Make the strenuous hike to the monastery from the town below in about three hours, where you will be rewarded with the discovery that no cameras, phones, or recording devices of any kind are allowed. Which for somebody hiding from the law is by itself almost worth the trip. A bonus is that the monks who live at the monastery often practice meditation that requires extended periods of silence, diminishing the chances that somebody will even accidentally give you away.

BobCarriesOn editor-in-chief Bob Payne is currently under audit.

Bigly travel story of the week: Six really great walls

                                                                                                        John Tenniel Illustration

Really great walls are taking on a growing role in the plans of many travelers. There’s talk, of course, of a really great wall going up along the U.S. Mexico border. And some Canadians have long thought there ought to be one along their border, too. But really great walls, as we are about to show you, have long been a bigly part of the travel experience.

 

Really great wall of china
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The Really Great Wall of China

Stretching for some 5,500 miles, the remains of the Really Great Wall of China is an early example of how a massive barrier, many feet thick and even more high, is about as effective at keeping people on one side or the other as a stern lecture from a vice-principal is at keeping high school boys from spiking the punch at a homecoming dance.

The problem was that the Really Great Wall of China had some 1,387 miles of gaps so porous that they were thought to be responsible for the enormous success of Chinese take out. No doubt the gaps were responsible, too, for the rise of such popular ice cream flavors as “Mongol Madness.”

The Really Great Wall of China was most successful as a massive infrastructure project. At its height, wall construction put millions of Chinese to work, whether they wished to be or not. Cost over-runs were a problem though, largely because developers had not yet mastered working with such modern building materials as bull excrement.

Today, the most visited part of the wall, because of its easy access to Beijing, is the Badaling section. According to many critics, though, after fighting the crowds and hassling with the taxi drivers, visitors often come away feeling that it ought to be called the Just Ok Wall of China.

 

Really Great Berlin Wall
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The Really Great Berlin Wall

From 1961 through 1989 the story surrounding the Really Great Berlin Wall, was, according to leaders of the East German government, the most bigly example of fake news ever reported.

With photos to back up their claim, East German leaders insisted that the Really Great Berlin Wall had in no way been a barrier to keep East Berlin citizens escaping to the West. Instead, they said, the 27-mile long, 11.8-foot high concrete structure had been a really great example — probably one of the greatest examples ever – of government support of the arts.

The wall was meant to be a public venue on which Berlin’s young artists — really great young artists — could showcase their talent through such time-honored media as spray paint.

The extent to which the Berlin government was willing to encourage such artistic expression was made evident, officials said, by the 20 bunkers, 302 guard towers, and uncounted other measures erected to safeguard the artists against interference by fascist and other anti-socialist Western elements.

The Really Great Berlin Wall was demolished in 1990. But commemorative pieces are still for sale. In fact, some 3.6 tons of the original 2.5 tons of concrete used in the construction can currently be purchased on e-Bay.

 

Humpty Dumpty Really great wall
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Humpty Dumpty’s Really Great Wall 

Although parts of Humpty Dumpty’s Really Great Wall may still exist, the inspiration for the classic English nursery rhyme is a matter of dispute.

In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, Humpty is depicted as an egg. Or — a reader could infer — someone with an ego as fragile as an egg.

In other interpretations, the clearly wobbly character has been a stand-in for any number of kings and other powerful public figures who, because of their overreach, end up taking such a great fall that not even all their horses and all their political advisors can put them together again.

There’s even an interpretation that holds wide sway, especially among pro-growth supporters, that Humpty Dumpty was a cannon that sat atop the wall surrounding the town of Colchester, England, during the English Civil War of 1642-51. Part of the wall still exists, but the story is that return fire from opposing forces so undermined its foundation that without sufficient infrastructure-funding most of it eventually came tumbling down.

One thing most interpreters agree on, though, is that the poem stands as a cautionary tale about the disaster that can befall anyone who uses a really great wall as a podium from which to draw attention to themselves.

 

Really Great Wall Street occupy
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The Really Great Wall Street

Among Americans who don’t get their news from traditional outlets, Wall Street is perhaps best known for its recent history of standing up to occupiers and other foreigners.

What many people don’t know, however, is that Wall Street is actually named after a really great wall, one built to keep out pirates, Native Americans, non-European Union members and, according to some sources, radical Islamic terrorists.

The original wall was a wooden palisade built at the south end of Manhattan by the Dutch in the 1600’s. Fortunately for much of America’s current population, it did not serve as a barrier for immigrants of British stock, who were able to get visa waivers.

 

Really Great Wall Mart parking lot view.
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The Really Great Wall-Mart

Wall-Mart is a really great American-owned retail store featured in an episode of the public affairs program South Park. The episode looks at what could happen in America if addiction treatment is not part of basic health care coverage.

The premise of the episode is that almost everyone in South Park is so addicted to Wall-Mart’s bargain prices that they stop shopping at other South Park businesses, putting the town into such a recessionary spiral that they are desperate to try anything that might make it really great again.

What they try is listening to a politician who promises that under his winning direction they will become the next state to benefit greatly from the legalization of marijuana. Too late, though, even the politician’s most ardent South Park supporters are faced with the reality that the town is in Colorado, where marijuana has already been legal for several years.

 

BobCarriesOn editor-in-chief Bob Payne sits on the wall on a great many issues.

 

BULLETPROOF: Best Carry-on Bags For When Things Go Bad

Practically all the new carry-on bags claim to be as smart as a phone, or a watch. Some tell you how much they weigh. Some follow you through the airport. And some let you know your spouse is in Miami, not Milwaukee.

But the truly useful innovations are found in carry-on bags that are at their best when things go bad. Especially impressive, for instance, are the bags that can provide cover in case of gunfire.

A British firm, Terrapin Technology, produces bulletproof carry-on bags as part of their “Go Ballistic” line. For best results, you hold the bag up to your face and chest, as if in a cowering manner. A barrier of “military grade” ballistic-resistant material then helps protect you from 9 mm bullets, knife thrusts, and, if your day has really gotten off on to a bad start, “shrapnel from a bomb blast.”

Man riding carryon bag scooter
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Carry-on Bag Luggage Scooter

Travelers who routinely fly out of smaller, regional airports know that getting a good seat often requires a dash from the gate to the plane. Increase your odds of being first to arrive by using a luggage scooter from Micro Luggage. An extendable aluminum handle and kickboard allows you to ride your carry-on bag in a style acceptable to even the youngest teens in your party.

Woman on motorized, ride-able carry-on bag
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Rideable Carry-on Bags

Need more getaway-speed than scooter-style carry-on bags can provide? What if, for instance, you have just used an emergency evacuation slide to exit an airplane you’d like to distance yourself from as quickly as possible? Then you might be ready for the Modobag. Billed as the world’s first ride-able, motorized, carry-on bag, it can reach speeds of up to 8 mph. Which is faster even than a man who has just noticed jet fuel leaking all over the tarmac can run.

Fire resistant Cardinal Bag Supplies Briefcase
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Fire-resistant Carry-on Bags

If you anticipate not being able to make a quick getaway, fire-resistant carry-on bags can be a good investment. Cardinal Bag Supplies makes briefcase-style carry-on bags that are fire resistant up to 2,500 degrees. It is necessary to point out, however, that if the bag is within your reach, temperatures much above 200 degrees will make the investment of interest primarily to your heirs.

Man blowing up floating carry-on bag
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Carry-on Bags That Float

What happens should your plane’s pilot misjudge, for example, the length of an aircraft carrier? You’ll want carry-on bags that are leak-resistant or, better yet, designed to float. Among the best we’ve found is the EL 22 Elite Carry-On, from Pelican, which has “passed submergence tests for an hour at a depth of one meter.” (Which is an industry standard, but, admittedly, didn’t impress us much, either.) More impressive is a line of bags from a new company, Capsula Bag, which actually float. You have to blow up an inner chamber, but we assume that given the right circumstances — such as an offshore current or circling sharks — most users would be okay with that.

Pelican submersible carry-on bag
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Impact-resistant Carry-on Bags

Ultimately, when things go bad the best of the new carry-on bags are those that are old-fashioned tough. Among the toughest, we have already mentioned the submergible EL 22 Elite. With double walls that won’t buckle under loads of up to 1,500 pounds, you could practically drop the Elite from cruising altitude without having to look for pieces.

Which would have made it a good choice for legendary, almost mythical, hijacker D. B. Cooper when he bailed out of a Boeing 727 somewhere over the Pacific Northwest in 1971. Unfortunately for Cooper, who was never heard from again, they found some of his $200,000 in ransom money scattered along the banks of the Columbia River, suggesting that his bag, at least, did not survive the jump.

 

BobCarriesOn editor-in-chief Bob Payne has never jumped from an airplane with a carry-on bag, containing ransom money.

 

A toddler shares 10 tips for airline travel

Grownups, which according to most toddlers is anyone over ten years old, are often no longer capable of enjoying the pleasures of airline travel. No joy for them in kicking the seat in front of you or seeing how far you can throw a juice box. As a result, grownups have very little to teach toddlers about flying, which may be why the two groups of travelers are often so unsettled around each other. That’s why we are presenting these ten tips for airline travel from an actual toddler, based on a lifetime of experience, which is to say 17 months.

 

Getting acquainted during boarding

As you make way your way down the aisle, offer a handful of Cheerios and a smile to every seated passenger, making note of those who do no respond, should it later become necessary to vomit on someone.

Choosing a special toy

A special toy can be anything – a wooden truck, an electronic game that beeps, and beeps, and beeps, or a tiny stuffed animal that can snuggle comfortably into a less-than-vigilant passenger’s red wine glass. What’s important is that when you want the toy, preferably while the flight attendants are urging everyone to take their seats, one of your parents has just packed it into a carry-on bag and stowed it in the only available overhead bin, twelve rows back from yours.

Snack selection

Soft snacks are best because if you lose interest before you are finished you can use them for early attempts to write your name on the armrest that would otherwise have been occupied by the lady sitting next to you.

If your father claims he couldn’t get seats together

Accept this for what it is: an indication that he’ll probably be out of your life by the time you are ten. However, if another man who isn’t too stinky is sitting next to your mother, there’s nothing wrong with being proactive by allowing her to pretend she doesn’t know you.

Best time to insist on going potty

Right after the seatbelt sign illuminates is ideal, as this will focus maximum attention on the fact that you know how to use a big-person potty. If you are told that you will have to wait, like big people do, one useful way of passing the time is to see if you can stand up on your tray table.

Visiting with other passengers

The best way to meet people in flight is by tottering down the aisle, from armrest to armrest, as if your walking skills are even less developed than they are. If the aisle is also occupied by the drinks cart this can be very entertaining, except to the flight attendants, who will scold you in a manner they usually reserve for grownups. Stand your ground, though, perhaps gathering courage by reminding yourself you are dealing with someone whose annual starting salary was less than $19,000. If that fails, and you must retreat, do it in as dignified a manner as possible, by observing in a voice that’s calm but capable of carrying for at least six or eight rows, “The flight attendant made a stinky.”

Clothing options

The two clothing options are on and off. Use the latter if other forms of entertainment, such as repeatedly pushing the call button, are losing their appeal, or if during preparations for landing no one is paying you the attention life has given you to expect.

Coping with earaches

As painful as earaches can be, there is often nothing you can do about them, except to find some kind of distraction, such as pulling the hair of the passenger in front of you. 

If the captain makes an unscheduled stop to remove your family from the plane

This is a moment you will want to help your parents remember for a long time, making it a perfect opportunity to surreptitiously kick off a shoe.

If a grownup has a breakdown in flight and you are implicated

Smile and offer a handful of Cheerios to all involved.

5 sure signs you are stealing hotel soap

Let’s be honest. Stealing at hotels is widespread. Egregious examples include $60 resort fees, $100 breakfasts, and $1,500-plus junior suites. But putting aside the shortcomings of management, let’s look at a question many hotel guests struggle with: Can taking hotel soap be considered stealing?

Yes it can.

You are stealing hotel soap if:

While a housekeeper’s cart is left unattended in the hallway, you load the cart’s entire supply into an empty suitcase you have brought along just for that purpose.

Noticing that the housekeeper has left another guest’s door ajar while servicing the room, you claim to be that guest, say you just need to duck into the bathroom for a minute, and make off with any toiletries you find. You increase the severity of your crime if, confronted by the room’s bona fide occupants, you claim to be a reviewer for TripAdvisor.

You actually are a hotel reviewer, and while an assistant manager waits patiently on the balcony, hoping you won’t notice the ants crawling up the wall, you strip the bathroom of everything you can fit into your camera bag.

Discovering the same soap in the hotel gift shop, you slip it into your tote bag and walk out without paying because you can’t get over how much they are selling it for.

You are a professional burglar, and are ransacking the room anyway, and take the soap because it comes in an expensive looking wrapper that makes it ideal for re-gifting.

If you do plan to steal hotel soap, the world’s best hotels to steal it from are:

The Hotel Principe di Savoia Milano

Lowest room rate: $353
Soap brand: Acqua di Parma
Soap cost: $35/3.5 oz.
Number of bars needed to recoup room rate: 10
Also worth considering: Recently re-designed by Thierry Despont, the Principe Bar is opulent, and its liquor stock not particularly well guarded.

Burj Al Arab Jumeirah Hotel, Dubai

Lowest room rate: $1,767
Soap brand: Hermes
Soap cost: $16.99/3.5 oz.
Number of bars needed to recoup room rate: 104
Also worth considering: One of the hotel’s chauffer-driven guest Rolls Royces will blend into local traffic for a clean getaway.

Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest

Lowest room rate: $333
Soap brand: L’Occitane
Soap cost: $7/2.6 oz.
Number of bars needed to recoup room rate: 48
Also worth considering: Nespresso coffee machine will fit inconspicuously into all but smallest bags.

Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, India

Lowest room rate: $321
Soap brand: Kama Ayurveda
Soap cost: $10/2.65 oz.
Number of bars needed to recoup room rate: 32
Also worth considering: Chandelier in the lobby is not vintage, but of high quality.

The Langham, Chicago

Lowest room rate: $490
Soap brand: Chua Spa Private Label
Soap cost: $10/3.5 oz.
Number of bars needed to recoup room rate: 49
Also worth considering: Upgrade to the infinity suite and you’ll have the option of making off with the custom-painted grand piano.

The Peninsula Shanghai

Lowest room rate: $403
Soap brand: Oscar de la Renta
Soap cost: $12.90/3.5oz.
Number of bars needed to recoup room rate: 31
Also worth considering: Artwork on walls at Salon de Ming lounge should prove easy enough to remove.

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Top six reasons to travel with the dead

 

If you hope to learn anything about the world, going solo is by far the best way to travel. But if you must travel with others, I recommend the dead. An incontrovertible fact is that when they travel the dead seldom:

Argue about the hour of departure.

Insist on a window seat

Pout if a restaurant is not of their choosing

Wear board shorts when visiting sacred shrines

Use a calculator app to split the check

Take selfies

Among the dead, writers are favorite traveling companions. Their words are already out there, allowing you to decide in advance if their sensibilities are compatible with your own. But their corporeal selves usually remain conveniently entombed, making them not overly concerned about such issues as who gets the room with the view.

For a ramble through France, for example, Robert Louis Stevenson makes an excellent traveling companion. His Travels With a Donkey in the Cevennes, the story of a 12-day walk through southern France in 1878, is largely about the shortcomings of traveling in company. Although in his case the company is his donkey, Modestine, who, frustratingly for Stevenson, is in no more of a hurry to reach their destination than Odysseus had been to reach Ithaca.

The irony is that despite the abuse Stevenson heaps on Modestine for not being focused enough on their goal, Travels With a Donkey contains the declaration that almost more than any other has been used to define the essence of travel:

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”

For journeys through the Arab World, there may be no better traveling companion than Freya Stark, although she usually went alone. A constant traveler and prolific writer, her words, even more than Stevenson’s, make you want to walk out the door:

“Surely, of all the wonders of the world, the horizon is the greatest.”

“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the most pleasant sensations in the world.”

“I have no reason to go, except that I have never been, and knowledge is better than ignorance. What better reason could there be for travelling?”

To really understand Stark, though, the kind of traveler she was, the kind of journeys she would want to take you on, it is necessary only to read these few lines from The Valleys of the Assassins, published in 1936:

“. . . the country seemed to be thick with relatives of people he had killed, and this was a serious drawback to his usefulness as a guide. . .”

A guide to a far stranger land, and possibly someone you should not travel with alive or dead, would be Hunter S. Thompson, whose Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas might or might not serve as a traveling companion for a journey of your own. This one little scene should be enough to help you decide:

“There’s a big … machine in the sky, … some kind of electric snake … coming straight at us.”

“Shoot it,” said my attorney.

“Not yet,” I said. “I want to study its habits.”

If you should find yourself traveling with Thompson the most important thing to remember is:

Don’t post selfies.