Hustle the Hustlers

Sometimes a bribe is the right call. Usually it's not.

Jan 20, 2011
Outside Magazine

If the situation is life-threatening, like a drunk soldier demanding a few bucks at a remote African checkpoint, pay up and get out of there. But if it feels like you're getting scammed, you probably are—and whether or not you pay will depend on your patience and the amount. "If it's under five dollars, I don't have a problem doing so," says Pelton. "It's basically a tip." If it's more than that, most adventure and travel experts we spoke with advised the same thing: Be frustrating. "Never speak the local language and don't even speak English," says Pelton. "Just speak gibberish—literally gibberish—and pretend not to understand." Play dumb tourist enjoying a cultural experience. Eventually, the official or officer will get sick of you and leave. Not working? Don't admit that you did anything wrong, ask for a receipt for the fine, and never hand over your original driver's license or passport—bring along laminated color photocopies.