How to become a travel ninja: travel Hacking anywHere in tHe world
ﬂight or wait another day. If you do choose to book
another ﬂight, you may be better oﬀ doing this in
person at the airport or ticket oﬃce. If you show
the (new) airline a copy of your other ticket, they
will sometimes agree to charge you the discounted,
advance-purchase fare instead of the exorbitant
no viSa, no PRobleM (Maybe)
If you have a passport from a rich country, you
won’t need to worry too much about getting visas.
Most countries you are likely to visit will either
waive the requirements for visas (up to 30, 60, or
90 days depending on the country) or allow you to
apply for one at the airport upon arrival.
The more you go oﬀ the beaten track, however, the
more you’ll need to plan ahead to receive visas.
When things go wrong, you can sometimes travel
to the country anyway and try to sort it out upon
arrival. Be aware that this is deﬁnitely a high-risk
activity. If you can avoid it at all, you should do so.
However, if you’re stuck, here’s what you do.
There are two barriers to clear: ﬁrst, the airline,
which will inspect your documents at check-in
and sometimes again before boarding the plane;
second, the immigration oﬃcials of the country
itself. My strategy is to print out lots of papers
in hopes of overwhelming the agent or oﬃcials.
When I arrived in Pakistan without the requisite
visa, I printed copies of the embassy’s web site, my
hotel reservation, my return plane ticket, an email
I had sent to the Pakistani-American Friendship
Organization, and so on.
If that sounds a bit desperate, well, consider that
almost no Westerner drops into Karachi without
a good reason. Dress nice, act slightly impatient
(while still being polite, of course), and distract the
person with random questions.
(By the way, this is roughly the same strategy
you can use for smuggling liquids or anything
else you’re not supposed to take through airport
security. Don’t say you heard it from me, OK?)