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MY SISTER GOT STUCK IN THE RIO AIRPORT AT 2 A.M. WITHOUT A HOTEL ROOM AND KNEW NO PORTUGUESE. WHAT'S THE BEST STRATEGY IN THIS SITUATION?

Arriving in an unfamiliar country in the middle of the night without a hotel room or knowing the native tongue can make even a seasoned traveler feel defeated. Yet, thanks to bad weather, missed connections, or diverted flights, this predicament is all too common. For the unexpected late arrival, climber, photographer, and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Jimmy Chin advises befriending an English speaker on the plane, train, or bus and asking for lodging advice. If that doesn't work, seek out an airport or government official, as they're likely to speak English. Ask for directions to the best hotel in town. Once there, inquire about other lodging options in your price range. Better yet, just spring for it; this is no time to be cheap. Most importantly, never let on that you're anything but in total control. "Everyone can tell if you don't know what you're doing, which makes you an easy target," says Chin, who has landed in far-flung airports from Mali to Pakistan. "Stay focused and improvise a strategy so you're not overwhelmed by aggressive taxi drivers or confusing directions." Still, depending on your destination, the safest bet could be to hunker down in the airport lobby (you'll survive) until daylight. In that case, exude a swaggering confidence as you curl up in that plastic chair.



Additional Excerpts
From the print edition, March 2005



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Do you have a burning travel question that only the world's most dangerous writer, Robert Young Pelton, can answer? E-mail your question to adventure@ngs.org, subject line: Ask Pelton. It could be answered in an upcoming column.



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March 2005



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