Sunday, February 21, 2016

Travel consultant gives tips for travel to non-democratic countries (even North Korea) at DC Travel and Adventure Expo

Today, I visited the Travel and Adventure Show  2016 in Washington DC at the Convention Center, open short hours Sunday (11 AM – 4 PM).  The visit does give a quick $16 preview of “parts uknown”.

Peter Greenberg spoke to a large audience about a number of controversial items.

First, he said, don’t depend on all the online amalgamation sites to find the best deals.  Only about 55% of the airfares (and hotel rates) are there.  Call the hotels.

He noted that the number of major US airlines has been code from eight to four, with some cities, like Cincinnati and Memphis, even Cleveland, having greatly reduced service and much higher fares. The walkup fare from Washington the any NY airport is 40 times the bus fare.

He also gave a story of checking an airfare on a major carrier, and checking it a half-hour later and finding it raised, even for a route that would not be popular.  He recommended disabling cookies in your browser.

I don’t think this has happened to me.

But the most controversial remarks concerned “safe” international destinations.  You can travel to an authoritarian country if (1) it clearly has one government in charge and (2) you follow all the rules.

 You can’t travel to Syria, but you can travel to North Korea, or Oman.  Just don’t try to sell Bibles or talk politics when you’re there.

I challenged him on this, with a question from the floor about LGBT travelers, and bloggers who may be known for political activism – traveling to countries like Russia and China.  He did agree that people who could be found on the Internet for “viral” political activism might face difficulties in some countries.
Update: February 29, 2016

UVa student Otto Frederick Warmbier has been held in North Korea for a trivial act, CNN story by Will Ripley.  The practical risks of travel seem great.  The DPRK accuses UVa of working with the CIA.

Update: March 16

Warmbier has been sentenced to 15 years hard labor (CNN story).

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