Good and Bad Places to Travel

A couple of maps caught my eye today over at the Washington Post. The first is a map that HSBC put out showing the best and worst countries to be an expat in. Some of the factors don’t apply to your average GTFOuter, such as expat salaries and the ability to own property, so take it with a grain of salt.


The second map shows the countries most and least friendly towards foreigners. This one was released by World Economic Forum. Some surprise good news for travelers across North Africa and the Middle East. That’s nice to know. And some surprising results from Latin America as well.


Inspiration to GTFO

Hi. Beau here. I was watching a few TEDx videos tonight and thought you’d like to see them. They’re funny, information shorts on how to get inspired to GTFO of whatever you need to FTW.

Lots of good lessons here, including the exercise of “what’s the worst that happens?” He realized, as I did, that he was in a worse place than if I’d failed at doing what I was thinking of. That’s part of the battle – knowing you should live your dream. What’s the worst that could happen to you?

Adam talks about the next part, how to launch yourself into doing whatever you want. His hurdle was debt addiction and an “upgrade everything” mentality. What’s yours?

Work isn’t worthless but your job is. It’s trash – smieci – in my broken Polish. Leave your job and find your work. Disrupt your life as it’s become and reset it to what you need to do to be happy. Even if it’s not your job. Live every week like it’s Shark Week. Is your job what makes you happy?

All the videos address the scripted nature of the reality show of our lives. (You knew those are scripted these days, right?) Break the cycle. Go off script. Make your life a story worth watching, whether it’s a 3D IMAX or a sitcom. This is your life. Live your dreams.

How to Setup Your Mailbox While Traveling

No, we’re not talking e-mail or your office mails. We’re talking about how you can receive your physical mail (letters and bills) and other packages while being away from home for extended periods of time. Like when you are traveling or away on a long vacation.

Mail forwarding services

Did you know the US Postal Service has a mail-forwarding service? For a weekly fee, USPS will hold your mail, package it up, and reship it to you at a given address each week by Priority Mail. The Premium Forwarding Service costs $15 to enroll and is a temporary service that can be used from 15 days up to 1 year. This way, you can continue to receive your bills, and avoid incurring late fees and penalties for non-payments.

Mailbox clipart
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Did you know you can even use your local UPS or Fedex stores as a mailing address? In addition to the privacy you get in not putting your home address out there, the secondary benefit comes when packages delivered need a signature. Often times, packages are not delivered when the person to whom the parcel was specifically addressed to was not home to sign for it. This means having to physically visit the UPS store or call the delivery guy to come back to your house. Something you can do only once you have returned from your travels.

Using a UPS or Fedex store as your mailing address, which are legally authorized to offer such services, they will receive the package and even sign for it on your behalf. The downside is, once they receive the package, it remains with them until you personally go and collect it from the store. UPS will not forward the package again.

Then there’s Pak Mail, who offer mailbox rentals, mail forwarding, faxes, and even notary services.

If you are an RV owner, there are several regionspecific operators and RV clubs that offer mailbox rentals at RV parks and mail forwarding services to your next destination. They can even receive faxes on your behalf.

Receive it, Scan it, E-mail it

What if you wish to read or see the contents of you mail/letters as soon as you get them? For that there are services like Earth Class Mail. They will accept your mail, open it, scan the letter and make the contents available to you online. This is a service that comes in very handy for receiving important letters in paper format and need them scanned and e-mailed to you. For physical goods and other packages, Earth Class Mail have forwarding options where by they will then send the package to any location you desire.

Virtual Post MailVirtual Post Mail is a service where, for as little as $5 a month, users get a US-based virtual mailbox that’s secure, reliable, and easy to use. Virtual Post Mail receives the member’s mail and makes hi-res scans of its content to the member. Members can view their mail and packages in high resolution images online using only either their browser or mobile phone. Virtual Post Mail users claim they receive fewer junk mail and none of those unsolicited mails. Virtual Post Mail can even physically send all your mails and goods in bulk. If not, they will even shred all your mails on request.

As much as we love these services, GTOutcast still advice our listeners to move as many of their bills and statements to e-bills wherever possible. This way you get your bills delivered via e-mail, which can be accessed anywhere you go — and you save on trashing paper. And while you can set up many of these services even after you have left home, it’s best you do all necessary paper work and reassurances before setting off on your journey.

Selling foreign goods to fund your vacation? It’s possible

One of the joys of walking around street markets of the world is coming across beautiful, artsy pieces of cultural artifacts and other souvenirs unique to that particular country. Silk clothing in East Asia, clog shoes in Netherlands, ornately designed lamp shades in Istanbul. We could go on, but you get the idea. Ever wondered about buying and selling these pieces back home to raise money and fund your vacation(s)?

Holland shoes Clogs
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It’s one of the ways we like to think a traveler can make money while still on vacation. It’s something we at GTFOutcast have thought about a lot and even done at a few occasions. Buy high quality, authentic goods from local markets in Latin America or Asia, and then sell them on eBay or through a vendor back home.

Take for example if you plan to sell your foreign merchandise back in the United States. As an American tourist, we are allowed to bring in anywhere from $200 – $1000 worth of foreign merchandise, all depending on the country* we bought the goods from. That is unless you managed to sneak in much more through customs without suspicion. Not that we endorse you do that. (Ahem)

Even if you did have to pay customs duty, it is generally less than 10% of the total bill amount you paid (converted to US$). Not to worry, this additional value on top of the price you paid for the goods is negligible if you find buyers still. Say if you bought trinkets from Thailand at $2 a piece, and you find buyers back in America are willing to pay up to $10 or more for something exotic, and definitely an item not easily found in America. Now imagine you bought a 100 pieces of trinkets at $2 a piece and sold them at $10 a piece. At an 80% mark-up, the profits alone come to $800. Sell 200 pieces and you could cover an entire travel budget. Beau Woods is currently in Mexico City and he has been trying to find how to get fresh designs on shirts in Mexico City, ship them back to the US and sell for a profit.

Mexican souvenirs market
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Selling goods in your home country back from your vacation is one thing, but how can one sell these goods while they are traveling? By using third party fulfillment for arbitrage to simplify the process. You handle the shipping of goods to a third party vendor, and the partner handles the sales process. You can even do this online by partnering with the right vendor on eBay or via Amazon Marketplace. The third party vendor will charge a fee, but it still saves you money and the headaches of handling sales transactions while on the go. And as per the stipulated agreement, the vendor simply wire transfers the money you are owed.

If online isn’t your thing, try contacting your local consignment stores. Just ship the goods via a postal service (or even the expensive courier services) to the consignment store, and they display the goods at their store and act as an agent to conduct the sale.

If the foreign country you are in allows it, you could even set up a small booth or a spot at a local flea market to sell your own goods. For example, hippies who came to Goa (in India) used to be famous for selling their creations and unused valuables in a bid to raise money to fund their stay — or even a ticket back home. That’s how the famous Anjuna Flea Market got its start!

However you sell the goods — by yourself or online using a third party — you really need to be sure of the demand for such goods. To be safe, for starters, only pick products you know can be easily sold through your network of friends back home. Like all businesses, there is some risk involved. What you find cool, others back home may not. You really don’t want to have a backlog of unsold inventory of goods that have no takers. On the flip side, if in the case you are unable to meet demand, or you end up working with an unreliable third party vendor, that’s a lot of dissatisfied customers. A situation hard to handle when you are in the middle of travel.

But if successful, this a great way to make use of your time in a foreign land productively and a means of earning an income while vacationing. Our only advice is you refrain from selling common souvenirs (like fridge magnets, figurines of popular attractions, etc.) that bear the names of a city or country. That’s simply cheating the travel experience for many.

Useful resources:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection – Duty-free exemption, Gifts
Learn more about Amazon Marketplace