Being held up at a traffic stop, a border crossing, or another checkpoint can become a nightmare if the authorities in charge decide to try to get a little extra money out of you. You don’t want to pay extra money to get through, but you know if you don’t they can make your life and travels very difficult. Enter Oscar Scafidi.

Oscar has had his fair share of interactions with less than reputable law enforcement officials. Having lived in a number of countries throughout Africa and working as a Security, Risk, and Educational Consultant with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East he has had to deal with unlawful authorities on a number of occasions.

On a recent podcast, he gave us three tips that can help if you find yourself in one of these situations:


1 – Stay calm and be polite

“It is going to take a while, you need to learn patience, infinite patience…the more impatient you get, the more they will realize you need to be somewhere and the more they will delay you…losing your temper or trying to hurry things along isn’t going to achieve anything…stay calm, stay polite.”


2 – Never hand over any of your original documentation

“Don’t ever hand the police anything you’re not willing to walk away from…the easiest way to avoid that situation is to not hand over your passport in the first place…the way I usually do that is to carry copies, color photocopies, get them laminated to make them look more fancy, in some countries you can actually get them certified at police stations.”


3 – Communication issues are going to be your best friend

“Never, ever, ever speak the language they are speaking to you in if you can avoid it…If you’re in a French-speaking country speak English, if you’re in an English speaking country, speak French…whatever it takes to insert a language barrier between you and the other person.”


“What you really want is to appear as a helpful idiot – you would do what they are asking you to do if only you could understand.”


Obviously, this can take longer and you do run the risk of getting them more upset at you. Given the situation, it may just be easier to pay the $5 and move on, I’ll leave that up to you.

You can find Oscar at

You can find us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and listen to the podcast at Anchor.

I hope this was helpful and entertaining! I made this nice infographic that you can share with all your friends if you’d like.

Enjoy and travel well!


The best gear, deals, news, and photos every week directly to your inbox.

Thank you! You have successfully subscribed!