Profileing through immigration and customary officials is a fact in our traveling lives - and it is more profound than you think. You are not only profiled based on race, ethnicity and nationality, but also class class of travel that is. Who do you think will be excited about customs and immigration: A business traveler with a value of Samsonite baggage in a trailer, or a budget traveler who gets a flight without frills taking on a 65-liter backpack?
Recently I took a Jetstar flight from Darwin, Australia to Singapore. While waiting for Bagagekarusellen at Singapore Changi Airport, I saw that every traveler wearing a backpack was appointed for closer examination of customs officials. In Singapore, you are fined for chewing gum and killed if you are shopping with drugs. Authorities at Changi Airport seem to resemble backpackers with drogmule and suspect that all backpackers carry much more than just two weeks of dirty laundry on their backs.
So, if youre a backpacker, what can you do when you arrive in a new country, to avoid having to play 20 issues with immigration and that you have to fly your underwear publicly at customs? Understand that this post does not advise you on smuggling your shady self, drug, hard currency or pirated DVD to another country. Rather, this post for the legislative budget traveler would rather not be treated as a dirty backpacker at the airport and enjoy a hassle free customs and immigration course. Heres how:
Dress up it a bit - Immigrant officials are not employed for their fashion appearance, but rather their conservative prospects and their willingness to pull up the line. Men, keep boardies and flip-flops for the beach and choose collared buttoned shirts, pants and completely closed laces. Dam, immigration is not the place to show off this bangin bid. If your ensemble reveals your shoulders, cleavage and thighs - rethink it! Less is no more in this case.
Cut off this beard - Or at least give it a trim. A bushy beard can really change the shape of your face. Expect some pointed questions and a bit of hard eye blowing from officials if you do not look like you did when your passport photo was taken. You are also less likely to be asked to prove that you can support you financially in your country if you look all bright and shiny.
Get your story straight - Make sure youve completed all your arrival paper in full and accurate. Most importantly, you must be able to place an address on where to stay your first night in your country. Before you book, book at least one night at a local hostel on Hostelworld.com and print the confirmation by e-mail. Examine how to get there from the airport. An officer can ask you about this. Volunteer no more information than you need. Just stop responding to what is being asked. You are less likely to be asked to provide proof of travel trips if you can recite any part of a travel plan.
Wear your backpack - If you leave the luggage carousel to the exit and you have your package on your back, expect a customs officer to want to see inside it. If you have something to declare - explain it! If you know you are not wearing anything clear and want to get through the customs much faster, carry your package. My current pack is an Osprey Waypoint 60. I can remove all straps and wear it as a duffel bag.
Uncomplicated travel begins and ends with respect for the countrys laws and your first meeting with its laws is its immigration and customs officials. You want to get out of the airport without too much trouble, and officials just want to get through their shift without too much drama. Help them by examining visa requirements and customs regulations before you arrive. Test a few points just outside the bat by taking a little effort with your look and your arrival to a new country will be really windy.