greatly from continent to continent. In the Middle East it
may take you several hours just to go 30 paces across a border
from one country to another. Your passport may get checked
half a dozen times as you proceed from officer to officer.
On the contrary, crossing some European borders is such a
non-event that you won't even know it happened. All borders,
no matter how relaxed or strict, deserve your respect. Here's
what you should know:
- you will definitely
need your passport to cross
any border. Even in Europe, you may be asked to show some
identification -- your passport is the only ID acceptable.
- some borders
will require a visa, permission
to allow you to enter the destination country. If possible,
obtain your visa well in advance so you aren't forced to
wait for it to be processed.
- don't accept
packages from strangers (or even recent friends) and then
attempt to cross a major border if you don't know for sure
what is in the package. As well, even though theft from
your backpack is a concern, you should also look out for
anyone putting something into your bag too! Criminals
may try to slip drugs or other contraband into your pack
and let you take the risk of crossing the border. Then they
will get it back from you any way possible. Many large borders
ask you if you have recently received any packages from
- some countries
charge a fee upon your departure, with prices ranging as
high as $60. Try to find out about these fees in advance
and make sure that you have enough money to pay when it
comes time to leave.
- make sure that
you have some currency of the country you are entering.
If you arrive at night or during a holiday, you may not
be able to find a money exchange. It is always more relaxing
to already have money to pay for a hostel and some food.
- be prepared
to have your bag checked at the more 'serious' borders.
Make sure you don't have drugs or other banned substances
when going across any border.
- do exactly what
the border officer tells you. He has the right to detain
you all day if he likes (not to mention the 'rubber glove'
treatment) so be polite and cooperative.