Factor bribes into your budget
Let’s say you’re approached by a policeman in Bangkok, where tourists have been increasingly shaken down in recent years (again, mirroring an erosion of good government). He’s strangely bothered by you dropping a cigarette butt in the street. Now you have to weigh whether his request of 2,000 baht (about $60) is worth it to make him go away. He might be bluffing and move on to an easier target if you object, but he also might ruin your night -- nay, your whole vacation -- by introducing you to a Thai jail.
Mark Ames, the co-founder of the legendary eXile newspaper in Moscow, recalls being regularly shaken down by the Russian police because he looks like he’s from the Caucasus region, whose people face deep prejudice in the rest of the country. Once, on the outskirts of Moscow, two cops in a Jeep rolled up on him, pointed guns at him, and asked about his documents. His passport was good; his visa was good. Ames, sick of the routine harassment, decided to play dumb to waste their time.