I hate traveling abroad. I loathe it. After 911, even domestic travel is abhorrent. I have however been doing it for over four decades now. At one point in my government career, I was out of the country for on average three weeks out of four. When I retired, I thought I would travel a lot less. Unfortunately, my clients generally hire me for my international expertise and I still put on sometimes close to ¾ million miles a year flying.
As a bloodied “road warrior” I have learned over the years how to make travel a bit more palatable and stress-free.
For example, about ten years ago, arriving in New York after over 24 hours flying, I suffered through the long immigration lines and went to pick up my bags so I could clear customs and make my next flight. The baggage handlers decided that they were not going to cooperate. Forty minutes later, my bag finally arrived. I missed my connecting flight and arrived home a day later. Since then, I have never checked a bag. You would be surprised at what you can fit in a carry on and computer bag. You can buy a small, duffel-bag style carry-ons that will fit up to four suits, plus shirts and underwear.
Also, most hotels have a laundry service. Some are expensive. My clients have yet to refuse to reimburse the receipt when I do use the laundry. When on personal travel, to me it is worth the extra expense. If I purchase something abroad, I mail it back to myself. This not only saves me from carrying it back, it saves me the bother of explaining to customs where I purchased the item, for whom did I get it, was it ever out of my sight, etc. Traveling domestically with my family, who are not as adept at packing, I use UPS and mail the bags to myself in the care of the concierge at our destination hotel.
Obtaining visas can be time consuming. Plenty of services here in the United States will do all the hard work for you. Why stand in line for hours at some foreign embassy or consulate when for a modest fee someone else will do it for you; and guarantee the return delivery time?
A little-known trick to vacation travelers abroad involves using visa and expediting services for arrivals and departures. To me, utilizing these services whenever possible is essential if you want to minimize your risk of being singled out and being hassled by foreign security. Travel to Israel is a perfect example. Israeli security services at Ben Gurion International Airport are very competent, but at the same time, they can be ruthless for seemingly no apparent reason. Innocent travelers can be detained both coming and going for hours just because, for example, they have stamps from an Arab country in their passport or their family name indicates a possible Muslim background.
When I go to Israel, I use a service that saves me all that trouble. You can send them a copy of the photo page of your passport, along with your itinerary, and they will pre-screen you with the airport authorities. They will even meet you planeside on arrival and escort you through immigration on departure. Though this sort of service is not available in every country, where it is, I always take advantage of it.
There is not much one can do about dirty planes and the post 911 security carry-on restrictions (I used to save a lot of money on liquor prior to the liquid carry-on restrictions). This does not mean you cannot work around at least some of the more onerous results of the reality of 21st century travel. They may cost you a few dollars, but if you travel a lot, it is worth the extra expense.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
As Vice President of a Security Fusion Center, Bill has provided risk management advice and direction to major Fortune 100 defense industry, ultra high net worth and other clients.
As Global Director for Security, Alem International, Bill planned and directed all facets of the security and risk mitigation strategies for the 2004 Olympic Torch Relay that took place in over 34 countries.
Bill was commissioned as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Officer in the US Army immediately after college.
Mr. Gaskill has a Bachelor of Science degree in Ancient History with a math minor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.He has a current Top Secret/SCI clearance.He has professional fluency ratings in Spanish, Greek, Hebrew and French, and has a working knowledge of Russian.