The right way to travel!
Recently the topic of over landing came up over lunch and it turned to a discussion on the worst experiences had whilst in neighbouring countries, now I have been kept at border post, denied exit from Mozambique and even been accused of smuggling cars by the SAP. All of which turned out to the best simply by listening and acting respectful towards officialdom.
The dreaded “officialdom”, in any country are, customs, immigration and the police. This is not an African thing it can happen anywhere, in my case I have even been stopped in France and England by immigration officials, in many cases it’s just about the pecking order-they have elevated themselves and will prove it to you.
So how do we overcome this and ensure a smooth passage? Remember that in most cases you are relaxed and happy because you are on holiday, but when you enter a border post be more formal, drop the fun and friendly banter, be respectful and businesslike, look people in the eye and greet them first, remove any hats and sunglasses as not to do so is often taken as a sign of disrespect.
• Be prepared and have all your documents and passports ready.
• If required have all the details pertaining to your vehicle in a separate file or folder (ensure that you have certified copies of all documents)
• Good practice is to have a small bag or file containing all relevant documents, passports, this you would keep in a safe inaccessible area when travelling and uses when entering or departing a country.
• Do not keep your money, cards or traveller’s cheques in this bag – rather separate them and carry them in a body wallet.
• Have pens ready (more than one) to complete any documentation and remember in most cases the officials are doing their job albeit with a somewhat surly attitude.
• Avoid flashy behavior, cameras are a “no no” and should be safely locked away in vehicles safe from prying eyes.
• Do not take tablets or cellphones in border posts-sometimes the cost is around half a years salary to an official who may immediately resent you.
• Keep children under control at all times
• Ask questions if you are unsure about anything and be sure of the dates for your duration of stay as many countries get upset (when you leave) if this detail is incorrect.
• If travelling as a group move on once your paperwork is complete,then regroup down the road before continuing the trip.
When travelling be careful when taking photo’s, request permission to take pictures of people and avoid taking pictures of anything that may be deemed to be sensitive such as police or military personnel, equipment or installations, even a dam wall could be deemed to be out of bounds as could power lines and bridges.
In the long run a cool head and the correct attitude with see you through most situations, never show aggression or even frustration, as that will merely exacerbate the problem. Lastly take pictures, enjoy yourselves and share the memories with us!