Travel Overseas Like a CIA Officer

Doug HillDear Laissez Faire Letter Reader,

The bomb that exploded on Monday at the Erawan Shrine, a popular tourist attraction in Bangkok, is a tragic reminder that good fortune can change in an instant.

One moment, you’re enjoying the hustle and bustle of an idyllic paradise… and the next, you’re rocked by the actions of some aggrieved madmen.

But we shouldn’t let events such as this scare us from traveling overseas.

Sure, they capture a lot of media attention…

But the fact is the odds of becoming a victim of a terrorist attack are extraordinarily low.

To give you an idea: You are 1,904 times more likely to die from a car accident… 271 times more likely to die from a workplace accident… and 26 times more likely to die falling out of bed(!) than you are from a terrorist attack.

Of course, anyone who travels will tell you it still pays to have your wits about you when you’re overseas.

After all, you’re in unfamiliar surroundings, so it’s much easier to fall prey to the tricks of local scammers, for example.

But you don’t have to be the victim of petty crime for a good trip to turn bad.

This can just as easily happen from forgetfulness. (A convenient excuse when you’ve had a few too many vacation cocktails!)

In today’s email update, Jason Hanson, shares with you a range of essential items that he always takes overseas.

With these in your bag, you can tilt the odds in your favor that your trip will be memorable for all the right reasons.


Doug Hill

Doug Hill
Director, Laissez Faire Club

Travel Overseas Like a CIA Officer

by Jason Hanson


Jason HansonWith a month of summer left, many folks still have vacations that are coming up. A lot of us will go to the beach, and some of us will end up taking a dream holiday overseas.

And while packing for Myrtle, Nags Head, or Ocean City is quite easy, there’s more you want to take into consideration when leaving the U.S.

So whether you’re headed overseas this year or a few years from now, here’s a list of items you may want to consider adding to your packing list.

1) International Cellphone
Depending who your wireless carrier is, you can make arrangements to change your plan and use your phone overseas (for a gazillion dollars a minute). However, I prefer to purchase an international cellphone for a couple bucks. That way, I don’t care if it gets lost or gets beat up in my luggage.

An example of an inexpensive phone to get for traveling overseas is the LG A275 Black Unlocked GSM Dual SIM QuadBand cellphone. (You want a cellphone that is an unlocked GSM phone.)

Once you get your unlocked cellphone, all you have to do is purchase an international SIM card to insert into the phone. One good company to use is Telestial, and you can get both SIM cards and phones from them.

2) Pocket Wallet/Safe
Needless to say, pickpockets are a huge problem in lot of the world, especially in Europe. Do not walk around with your wallet in your front or back pocket as you normally do in the U.S. Also, do not get one of those neck wallets that hang around your neck under your shirt. Thieves can see the wallet string around your neck, and it’s a dead giveaway for where you’re hiding important items.

Instead, consider getting an ankle wallet or something that hangs down inside your pants such as the Shacke Pocket Vault. Also, don’t keep all of your eggs in one basket, meaning you may have an ankle wallet with some cash and items and the rest of your cash is in a pocket vault tucked in your pants.

3) Cheap Laptop
You may have to do a little bit of work (like I always do) when you travel overseas. And you may not want to haul your large laptop with all of your important information.

Instead, get a cheap laptop that you can afford to lose in a worst-case scenario. A good example of an inexpensive travel laptop is the Acer Chromebook 11. It’s a no-frills laptop that’ll cost you around $150.

4) IronKey
If you’re traveling overseas, assume that when you’re not in your room, the hotel staff is going to go through all of your personal belongings (this is especially true in France).

If you don’t want people to be able to access any important information or documents you have, then you want to use the IronKey. This was initially developed for intelligence agencies to protect classified material, but now it’s available to consumers.

This comes with military encryption, and you can purchase it with various storage capacities. Best of all, this is a small USB drive, so you can carry it with you in your ankle wallet or Pocket Vault. (You want to keep scanned copies of your passport, driver’s license, credit cards, medical cards, etc.)

5) Small Water Filter
Here in the U.S., we often take for granted how fortunate we are to be able to turn on the tap and have a drink of water whenever we’re thirsty.

This is not the case in much of the world, so depending on where you are going, you will want to bring some water purification tablets and a small water filter. One filter I really like is the Sawyer Mini Water Filter.

Obviously, those are not the only five items you need, but it’s a good start for when you’re heading overseas. Don’t forget to bring a tactical pen, wear your Escape & Evasion Gun Belt, and have a door-stopper alarm to put in front of your hotel door each night.

And most importantly, don’t forget to do a lot of research about the place you’re going so you know the safe spots and the places you definitely want to avoid.


Jason Hanson

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