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Traveller Tips: Careful at the Border

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If you travel internationally, no matter where you live and what your citizenship is, you will have to pass thorough customs and migratory controls in most cases.

Thanks to the proliferation of terrorist groups mainly of islamic origins, these controls have become more burdensome and strict, related to a more paranoic outlook on the world and indeed, slow.

But you have to consider yet another factor into this equation of inconvenience for the international passenger, which is the character and mentality of customs officers and border guards.

Just a quick look at the job description of these fellows leaves you with the taste of a menial career; most border guards and customs officers are in their jobs either because it is relatively easy to ask for bribes, as it happens in most places that you would care to believe, or because they are not among the best of the best.

Donīt assume that this is just a problem of poor countries; in the United States, for example, border guards and customs officers frequently have primary school as their only sort of education.

In Argentina I have observed how these iniiduals plainly and clearly ask passengers for bribs in order not to tax returning tourists with significant fees.

In Sweden, Denmark and Norway I saw people attempting o smuggle spirits and alcoholic beverages all the time, and in the Czech Republic I enjoyed meeting a dinosaur of past communist times enjoying himself as he pestered passengers on a train leaving Poland.

In some African countries, in Russia, Ucraine and Romania, just to mention a few, some officers will warn you that they will simply put you in jail or something like that if you donīt pay your due bribes as a visitor or tourist.

And things may get worse in regions which are under severe troubles such as the man-made disasters in Palestine, Israel or Iraq

So, the next time you travel you will find that people on both sides of the border are kind and enjoyable, but those in the middle frequently are not.

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