Archive for Travel Tips – South America

An Ode to Cipro….How do I Love Thee!!

The street vendor. Simultaneously your best friend and your worst enemy. Who can resist an awesome photo eating fried crickets in Thailand or balot (duck embryo) in the Philippines? Of course there is also the dare factor along with the “how many chances do I get to try this” multiplier. Many people have traded that photo for 4 days in the bathroom

Not to fear, however!! Ever since Cipro (Ciproflaxin to the medically inclined) was invented, people have been able to cut it to a day or so. Ah, the possibilities and photo opportunities!

To the inventor of Cipro, I hoist a drink from a dirty cup along with mystery meat on a stick! You are awesome!

If I were in the Antartica…or a warzone… or backcountry…. or

Did you know that you can rent a satellite phone? For about 40 bucks and a dollar sixty a minute you can shout out a HEEELLLP! Or someone can let you now that you need to come home NOW! Regardless, it would be pretty cool to have if it all hit the fan.

Travel insurance and travel health insurance, is there a difference?

In short, OH YEAH! One looks out for your luggage and investment in a trip, the other looks out for you. Imagine this: A beautiful evening on the coast in India, a wonderful meal, all the makings of the beginning of appendicitis. Hours later the pain begins as an infection grows and you begin wondering what is happening in your side. I’ll stop there. Let’s just suffice it to say that you will probably want to be in a hospital where they don’t see death as just another step on the wheel of reincarnation. I’m talking about wonders of medevac to a good hospital and overseas medical insurance. These guys here are one of the best at this.

Help to Avoid Delays and Cancellations

I’m for anything that helps beat the airlines at their game. I want any information that they are unwilling to hand out. Here’s another website that actually takes historical information and lets you track which days and flights have the highest cancellations or delays. AVOID THESE FLIGHTS! don’t avoid this web page.

Kinda Dorky But Convenient

This thing isn’t really my style but eliminating hassle is. Basically it’s a vest where you can hold your tickets, passport, snacks, everything you would be searching for when going through an airport. Just keep it in one of the tons of pockets in this vest. The coolest part is just throwing it on the x-ray conveyer and just walking through. If this is your kind of deal, here is a good place to get one.

“That You May Walk (Travel) in Peace”

It can get a little wild in a foreign country where tourists sometimes have a target on their back. You have money, you are distracted, you are not expecting a problem. The underbelly of humanity, in any country, knows this and can take advantage. The above quote comes from an Israeli self defense system known as Krav Maga.

Krav Maga

Krav Maga

It’s made for average people without a lot of time on their hands to be a Judo master or anything. Old, young, heavy, small, it doesn’t matter in this system as the Israelies created it for their army (everyone has to join). The FBI and many police forces have made this their primary training as it’s so easy to learn yet brutal towards attackers. Knowing what to do if it gets dicey will certainly help you “travel in peace.”

Beating the Airline Ticket Guessing Game

I’ve found a free site that rocks and is actually usefull! It’s called and basically it takes historical and current data to see the cheapest time to buy tickets. You know how it goes: “what if I leave on Sunday or Monday? What if this week or next week? When does the season end? What If I stay 13 days or 12 days” Well, this site beats them at their game. They make it so confusing that we just guess and make bad decisions. What do we need? Information and here it is!

Learning Languages, The Truth

I once heard of a businessman who wanted to learn Russian fluently in a 3 week crash course. Something got in his mind (advertising maybe?) that made him think this was possible with hard work. He learned a lot but barely touched the edge of what he needed to converse freely. Another person accumulated lots of dictionaries, books (unread), games, stickers and so on but never did the hard part: memorizing and practicing. She got nowhere.

Flashcards Rule!

Flashcards Rule!

THE SECRET: Flash cards and being willing to make a fool out of yourself. Make or buy thirty flash cards with the most common words on them. Keep them in your pocket and go over them everywhere you go. At red lights, waiting in an office, hold them under a table at boring meetings. As you learn the words, take them out of the pile and replace them with new words. NEXT, use them every chance you can, even if you look stupid. Learning a language is about work. First you need the tools (words in your head) then you need to practice using those tools. It will take time and you will also need instruction for native speakers, but until you suck it up and get the words out of books and into your mind, you will be struggling. AH, BUT THE PAYOFF IS WONDERFUL!!! As are the relationships you will form

The Secret to eating weird food

Eating nasty food is well…. nasty. I’ve known some who will pretend that something is tasty and eat it for the local experience but I don’t have that kind of stomach nor that ability to lie to myself. Some food is just stinking gross and that’s the way it is.

I will try things before I write them off, though, and some things really are an acquired taste. In answer to the question in your head, yes, there are times when we just need to suck it up and eat so as not to offend. As an example, I offer the following: red caviar that looks like it should be on the end of a fishing hook. This is served “tastily” on a slab of butter and a slice of white bread. Basically the bread and butter just prolong the suffering of the fish eggs.

Oh no.

Oh no.

THE SECRET: bite – swallow – say “thanks”. Don’t chew, just get it down as quickly as possible or your taste buds might have something to say about it. Let your host know how much you appreciate it but don’t be too enthusiastic or you might have to eat more.

THE AMAZING SIM CARD – and being “local” everywhere

Imagine this: I’m in the Philippines, making calls on my local cell phone. A little bit later, I’m in Cairo doing the same thing. After that I’m in Russia and on it goes. It’s always the same phone and I’m always local. How does this happen? By understanding how phones work overseas.

It’s not about hooking up with phone services and getting the right calling plan. It’s merely a matter of going into a kiosk or booth, buying a SIM card stocked with minutes and putting it in your phone. Violla! You’re local. In the Philippines I bought a SIM chip for $10 and was calling and texting home to my heart’s content. Everyone at home could find me whenever they liked so it was good all around.

The catch: First, you have to have a GSM enabled phone (quad band). In America many are already like that so no big deal. I bought an ATT Tilt that gets me anywhere and opens up easily to change the SIM card. Second, you have to get the code to unlock your phone. This means talking your carrier into letting you get off their system while out of the country. My phone is with a business so they were happy to accommodate. Just so you know, it can be difficult sometimes if you have an I-phone or something else you got on a deal with a 2 year contract.

Perfect for calming down the parents who are worried about getting a hold of you.