Tag Archives: travel

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.

Airsickness Bags: Everything you need to know, but were afraid to ask

ELAG Photo 

Do airplanes still carry airsickness bags?

Yes. According to the Wall Street Journal, the airlines use about 20 million a year. But the numbers may be decreasing, because as a cost-savings measure some airlines no longer put airsickness bags in every seatback, but instead keep a supply in the galley. If a passenger needs a bag they have to ask a flight attendant. The shortcoming of this system becomes most obvious during turbulence severe enough that the pilot asks flight attendants to take their seats.

Why shouldn’t you use airsickness bags to store things in?

If the passenger who occupied your seat just before you spent the flight clipping their nails or picking their nose, where would the evidence of those activities most likely end up?

What other uses can airsickness bags be put to?

As finger puppets and ad space, mailers for illicit drugs, carrying the ashes of a family member you had issues with, and, most effectively, as stationary for unequivocal goodbye notes. They are also very popular among collectors, except for the bags found aboard U.S. aircraft, which are almost uniformly, generically, white.

What kind of person collects airsickness bags?

A person like Steve “Upheave” Silverberg, whose Airsickness Bag Virtual Museum has 2,806 exhibits. Among their collecting friends, who are often their only friends, they almost universally call themselves baggists.

Is Steve’s the world’s largest collection of airsickness bags?

Not even close. According to Guinness World Records, a Dutchman named Niek Vermeulen has the largest collection of airsickness bags: 6,290 from 1,191 airlines. However, American Bruce Kelly appears to have a collection of 6,473 bags, from 1,370 airlines. As they are constantly adding to their collections, it is hard to tell at any given time who is the record-holder. But the fact that Kelly, very unusually for a collector, developed his interest in airsickness bags while barfing into them aboard bush planes in rural Alaska, where he lives, gives him a standing one is inclined to pull for.

What’s the most sought-after airsickness bag?

From Air Force One, imprinted with the Presidential Seal, and purported to exist only in a scene from the film Independence Day.

Are airsickness bags all the same size?

No. In 2007, Virgin Atlantic created an airsickness bag so big it could have been used for smuggling children aboard. Bright red, it was printed with a long message that began: “How did air travel become so bloody awful?”

Who invented the airsickness bag?

Gilmore Schieldahl, of Esmond, North Dakota, is widely credited with creating a plastic-lined bag for Northwest Airlines in 1949. Among Schieldahl’s many inventions, which included an early communications satellite launched by NASA, the airsickness bag is said to be the one he was least happy to remembered for.

Is there a top-ten list of websites devoted to airsickness bags?

Of course. Look for it here.  But be warned that it does contain verse.

 

 

Most expensive way to travel across America?

A study recently conducted by BobCarriesOn.com, a website that has been sharing accurate travel news and advice since before Columbus landed at Plymouth Rock, has concluded that the most expensive way to travel across America is on foot.

According to figures from BobCarriesOn, the average total expense for an economy-class cross-country flight, which takes six hours, is $451, or $.15 per mile, while a cross-country walker, taking 46 days, would spend a minimum of $6,440, or $2.15 per mile.

“What the study clearly shows,” says Bob Payne, chief analyst for BobCarriesOn.com, “is that for coast to coast travel across America only the wealthy can afford to walk.”

Figures used in the study are based on a per diem or daily allowance rate set by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to determine how much a person would be expected to spend when traveling. According to the GSA, a day away from home averages $89 for lodging and $51 for meals, or a total for the day of $140, although there is some variation to account for days in more expensive cities, or jail.

Another finding of the study, Payne said, is that if your goal is to travel across America coast to coast for the least money possible, taking the bus is your best alternative. Cost for the three-day journey is about $361 for the fare and other expenses, or $.12 per mile, although that does not count the likely possibility of being mugged on your way to or from the bus station, which will almost invariably be in the worst part of town.

“When traveling coast to coast across America, the only time you are more likely to be assaulted  than you are near a bus station is going through security at an airport,” Payne said.

What it costs to travel across America coast to coast

Bus* 3 days $361 $ .14/mile

Train ** 3 days $441 $ .17/mile

Bicycle 8 days $1,120 $ .44/mile

Auto *** 60 hrs $1,880 $ .73/mile

Afoot 46 days $6,440 $ 2.51/mile

*Assumes sleeping on bus, but with one eye open.

**Assumes sleeping on train, but not, unless things go unexpectedly well, in sleeping car.

***Includes GSA mileage allowance of .58/mile; legal speed limit, mostly.

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.

 

Should CNN apologize for story on travel agents?

 

 

CNN may be considering an apology today after airing a report on the future of travel, complied by the travel-booking site Skyscanner, predicting that by 2024 travel agents will be replaced by virtual devices.

The apology could become necessary after it was revealed, in the course of fact-checking the story, that travel agents had already long ago been replaced by such devices.

“It happened back in 2008, but since people were already doing most of their own booking online, no one noticed the travel agents were gone,” said Bob Payne, Director of the Institute of Overlooked Public Phenomena.

Another reason little was heard about the changeover, Payne said, is that most of the travel agents quickly got better-paying jobs. “With their industry expertise and their special ability for telling people where to go, they were immediately snapped up by the airlines, to answer the complaint lines.”

Payne said a technology that virtual travel agents are already using – one the report mentioned as something still in the future – is facial recognition. “By knowing when someone is telling the truth, it allows agents to book travel based not on where people say they want to go, but where they’d really rather be.”

It’s one of the reasons, Payne said, that we are seeing such an increase in bookings to Disney World by CNN personnel.

When not working on behalf of the Institute of Overlooked Public Phenomena, travel humor writer Bob Payne is the editor in chief of BobCarriesOn.com, which has been sharing accurate travel news and advice since before Columbus landed at Plymouth Rock.

 

 

 

 

Slingshot owners angered by reversal of TSA’s no knives on planes rule

Members of a group who call themselves law-abiding slingshot owners say the new TSA rules allowing knives on planes but continuing to ban slingshots is not only unfair but casts a shadow on one of the best-loved stories in the Bible.

The group, Davids Against Goliath, says the evidence is clear that while knives have played well-documented roles in airborne tragedies, not a single airborne terrorist has been known to carry a slingshot.

“In fact in recent years there has been only one case of a slingshot bringing down a commercial aircraft belonging to a major carrier,” said the group’s spokesman,” Bob Payne.

And that case, Payne is quick to point out, was determined by a fact-finding board, in an 8-4 decision, to be an accident.

“As you may well remember, a man was having a cookout in his backyard, and he’d drunk a beer or two, and meant to use his slingshot to fire a flaming marshmallow over the fence onto his neighbor’s patio, as a harmless joke,” Payne said. ” But he mistakenly loaded the slingshot with a seagull instead, and the bird lofted higher than the man thought it would, and was sucked into the engine of a 747. And as tragic as the incident was, the majority of the board did find that most at fault was the seagull.”

Payne said the result of that incident, which is unlikely ever to be repeated, except on national holidays occuring in months when it is warm enough to cook outside, all responsible slingshot owners are being prohibited from using a handy tool that undeniably has practical uses aboard an aircraft.

“I cannot tell you how many times I have been on a plane, wanted to get a flight attendant’s attention, and the call button wasn’t working, and a slingshot loaded with a jellybean would have saved me considerable inconvenience,” Payne said.

Asked to comment on the news that baseball bats and golf clubs would also be allowed aboard under the TSA’s new ruling, Payne answered only: “Are you kidding me? Do you know how much damage David could have done to Goliath with a three iron?”

When not touring the country as a paid spokesperson for Davids Against Goliath, Bob Payne is the editor in chief and a religion columnist for the travel humor website BobCarriesOn.com.