The Best Advice Before You Rent A Rental Car

 

Hey guys ! This is the best advice before you rent a rental car. As someone who regularly rents a car when traveling, this is the best way I’ve been able to defend myself against extra charges and sometimes even fraudulent charges.

Take a video of the entire exterior of the car

I strongly recommend you always use your phone to film a complete 360 virtual tour of the vehicle before driving it off the lot. I like to do this in front of the rental agent so that they see that I’m a knowledgeable and educated consumer. I want them to know they’re not dealing with a schmuck. What I’ve noticed is that they’ll sometimes even proactively point out hidden damage, damages that you may have been liable for if you did not protect yourself.

Below is a video from the Europcar pick-up location in the Sofitel Bangkok lobby. You’ll see at the :25 mark, the agent points out some paint damage on the passenger side mirror (remember, I’m in Thailand – the cars are opposite here lol).

Below is another video I recently took of a car rented from BizCar in Don Muang Airport. I wanted to make sure the agent saw with his own eyes that I was giving a very detailed search of the car for scratches, dents and damage. As you’ll see I found a number of scratches and dents that the rental car company might have otherwise passed the blame onto me for.

So has a rental car company tried to screw me before?

YES.

Let me tell you about experience that I had in Reykjavik, Iceland when I rented a car from Flizzr. When I picked up the car, I was warned by the agent not to go off-road as gravel and rocks are a guaranteed way to scratch up the car. I specifically made it a point to drive only on paved roads.

When I returned the car, the agent pointed out a number of scratches on the front bumper. For a moment I was scared. I thought that maybe when I was driving on the highway some gravel might’ve hit the bumper. I really thought I was going to be liable for this damage. But then I remembered that I had the Chase Sapphire credit card which includes collision protection.  When the agent went inside I quickly called Chase to confirm that the damage to the rental was covered. Confirmed! Phew. This gave me momentary peace of mind. It calmed me down enough to think, “Let’s take another look at the scratches.”

Below is the video and you can hear my genuine reaction.

Would you believe it? Turns out that the “scratches” weren’t scratches at all. It was dirt! I was able to use my finger (and some saliva) to remove every single mark that the agent circled in white chalk. When he came back he looked absolutely baffled. He said “What happened to the damage?” and I said “Come on man…you knew those weren’t scratches. You knew that was dirt but you were trying to charge me for it.” He awkwardly smiled like an idiot and said, “You just saved yourself $3,000.”

Unfortunately I did not make a video before I rented the car even though in this instance it wouldn’t have helped as it was dirt, not damage. But this experience taught me a very valuable lesson :  Always film a 360 virtual tour of the car in front of the rental agent and point out any damage you see, no matter how small or trivial.

Please share this article with anyone you know that is going to be using a rental car! You might end up saving them a lot of money.

Did you find this advice helpful? Have you had any similar experiences?  Leave a comment or you can e-mail me adam@befreemysheeple.com. If you enjoyed reading/watching this, you can follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple!

Celebrating a 35th Birthday in Bangkok, Thailand

One of my best friends (also named Adam), landed in Bangkok on December 9th, which happened to be his 35th birthday. We thought about driving to Pattaya to party.  But after a 24 hour flight from New York City to Bangkok, he didn’t want to add any additional travel time. Here’s how we celebrated his 35th birthday in Bangkok, Thailand.

Khao San Road, Bangkok

A great place to pre-game in Bangkok is Khao San Road.  You can get delicious street food here like pad Thai, meat skewers, spring rolls & smoothies. After a long 24 hour flight of eating only airplane food, Adam jumped on the first food cart he saw (spring rolls). The hot sauce was too spicy for him, but not me because I’m Mexican.

After filling up on spring rolls, there’s no better way to digest than a foot massage (along with a vodka soda bucket). I also showed Adam my newest magic trick (appearing beer).

Before we left, I had a fresh mango & banana smoothie and it paired perfectly with my lukewarm vodka soda bucket.

Riding a Tuk Tuk in Bangkok

The most efficient way to travel around Bangkok is a motorbike because they can weave around traffic. The most fun way to travel around Bangkok, especially if you’re with your friend, is a tuk tuk. And from my experience, almost all tuk tuk drivers speak at least a little English.

The only negative is that there’s no meter so you’ll need to negotiate a little bit on the pricing. The first driver we asked to take us from Khao San Road to Patpong Night Market (a 20 minute ride) wanted 500 baht ($15 uSD). The second driver we asked wanted a more reasonable 300 baht ($9 USD). In the US, a difference of $6 during a night out is almost irrelevant (I used to spend $200-300 every Friday/Saturday night in New York City), but here in Thailand, that’s the cost of a 1-hour massage.

Patpong Night Market, Bangkok

After Khao San Road, we headed to Patpong Night Market, a fun place to shop for clothes, electronics, souvenirs, etc. Lining the streets along the market are bars (some with go-go dancers), live music, restaurants, massages and the infamous ping pong shows.

Now I’ve been living in Thailand for almost 3 months and I never really had any interest in checking out a ping pong show. For those of you who don’t know what a ping pong show is, you can read more about it here. You’ll understand why this form of entertainment isn’t high on my list of priorities.

We got to Patpong Night Market a little too early as many of the bars were empty. We asked one of the bar managers if there was a busier bar. She led us to a staircase leading to a bar upstairs and I told her that we did not want to go to a ping pong show. She confirmed that this was not a ping pong show (“no ping pong show”) but of course as soon as we sat down, it was a ping pong show. A good rule of thumb when you’re at Patpong Night Market is if the bar is on the 2nd floor, it’s probably a ping pong show.

Looking back we should have immediately left. Instead we figured that since we were already there, we might as well have a quick drink. Adam got a beer and I ordered a vodka soda. I told him to drink as quickly as possible and not to engage or stare at the performers as if this would prevent us from being scammed (as I read these places tend to do online). The performers ignored us as we sat in the corner trying to quickly chug our drinks and GTFOH.

Ping Pong Show Scam

The bar was advertised as “no cover charge” with drinks being 100 baht ($3 USD).  What they failed to mention is that there isn’t a cover charge for entering, but there certainly is a cover charge for leaving. This is referred to as a “looking fee.” The looking fee (the fee for looking at the performers) at this fine establishment was 1,500 baht per person ($48 USD). There was also a 1,200 baht “service fee” per person ($37 USD). Our bill for 2 drinks (which we finished in under 10 minutes) … 6,000 baht!!! Roughly $180 USD. LOL.

We explained to the cashier that there was a misunderstanding :  we were told by the bar manager that this wasn’t a ping pong show (which is why we were leaving after 10 minutes). We settled on paying 1,000 baht ($32 USD). Still too much, but not on the scale of 6,000 baht. Had we engaged with the performers at all, we would have understood the charges. Our experience was consistent with many others that I’ve read about online here.

Soi Cowboy, Bangkok

After avoiding being fully scammed at a ping pong show, we went to the legendary and iconic Soi Cowboy. Like Khao San Road, Soi Cowboy was named in my article The Craziest Party Streets I’ve Been to in the World!

Soi Cowboy is a great place to have a few birthday drinks while looking at bikini-clad bartenders and hostesses. There’s also live music and restaurants so you can eat between drinks.

Pretty soon after we got there, I stopped vlogging. In keeping consistent with my vlog, I’ll end the article here. Let’s just say it was a wild and memorable night.

Bangkok is a great place to celebrate a birthday or bachelor party. I wish we had time to hit up a rooftop bar or RCA, but there’s always next time!

Have you celebrated a birthday in Bangkok?  Leave a comment or you can e-mail me adam@befreemysheeple.com. If you enjoyed reading/watching this, you can follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple.

My Quick Reaction to Avengers Endgame’s 1st Trailer (26 screencaps)

 

After waiting what seems like forever, the Avenger Endgame trailer was finally released by the Russo brothers at 7:59am EST on their Twitter account. 

WARNING: This post is going to contain details from Avengers Infinity War so if you haven’t seen it yet, go see it and then come back and read this. It will also include theories for Avengers Endgame.

Here’s my quick reaction to Avengers : Endgame’s 1st trailer 

Avengers Endgame Trailer Tony Stark Iron Man

Iron Man’s helmet looks like it’s in pretty good shape considering it received multiple punches from Thanos in Avengers Infinity War. There’s some symbolism here showing the weakened, fragile and vulnerable state Tony Stark is in.

Avengers Endgame Trailer Tony Stark Iron Man

A sad, defeated Tony Stark alone in space with the remaining pieces of his suit. Not surprising that Tony’s helmet has voicemail features.

Avengers Endgame Trailer Tony Stark Iron Man

You can see the hopelessness in Tony’s face. Watching him leave a “voicemail” for Pepper Potts is a heartbreaking scene and more great acting from Robert Downey Jr. He really was perfectly cast for this role. Marvel casts the human, DC casts the superhero. This is why Marvel > DC.

Avengers Endgame Trailer Tony Stark Iron Man

Epic space shot. I love seeing the MCU moving more towards cosmic threats. In the comics, the cosmic threats were generally the more dangerous ones and opened the door for more crossovers. All signs pointing to Galactus and the Fantastic Four arriving shortly.

Avengers Endgame Trailer Tony Stark Iron Man

Tony alone in space. This reminds me of the Black Mirror episode USS Callister where we see Robert Daly floating off into the abyss at the end, alone, with no hope of rescue, for all of eternity. Except here we can assume Tony will be rescued. My bet is courtesy of the Quantum Realm.

Avengers Endgame Trailer Marvel

Incorporating the dusting into the Marvel Studio 10 years logo is awesome and a reminder of that we just saw in Avengers Infinity War.

Avengers Endgame Trailer Thanos

Thanos’ armor is looking like it just came out of the cosmic dry cleaners. This is likely foreshadowing for Thanos to require his armor for round 2 against the Avengers. We know the Avengers will be coming more prepared this time.

Avengers Endgame Trailer VegetationThanos said that to restore balance he needed to kill half of the universe’s life forms and it looks like the vegetation on whatever planet he is on is thriving. Also, we can see a glimpse of what looks like the damaged glove. 

Avengers Endgame Trailer Avengers HQ

We can see the size of the Avengers headquarters. It also looks noticeably empty, a result of “the decimation.”

Avengers Endgame Trailer Captain America

Steve Rogers looks as sad as many of the 5-year-olds (and even some 35-year-olds like me) during the ending of Avengers Infinity War. He’s obviously reflecting on the massive loss they just suffered.

Avengers Endgame Trailer Black Widow

Quick shot of Natasha confirming that “he wiped out 50% of all living creatures”. Or did he??? 

Avengers Endgame Trailer Hulk Bruce Banner

Bruce Banner looking at a hologram of Scott Lang. I couldn’t figure out if he was looking at people assumed dead or alive but it could be that he’s tallying the heroes that are alive to assist. Look right and you’ll see Shuri. 

Avengers Endgame Trailer Avengers HQ

A cool shot of the half-empty (…?) Avengers HQ. 

Avengers Endgame Trailer Thor

Solemn Thor in his earthling clothing. You can still see Chris Hemsworth’s massive biceps through his baggy hoody. #Jealous.

Avengers Endgame Trailer Nebula

Solemn Nebula. Her character growth from Guardians of the Galaxy 1 has been incredible to watch. Once a villain we all wanted to see lose, many of us are now cheering for her as she seeks redemption and revenge.

Avengers Endgame Trailer Hawkeye Ronin

A hood and a sword is always a good costume. I can see this becoming a popular Halloween costume in 2019.

Avengers Endgame Trailer Black Widow

Natasha is thinking “Who is that masked man?” Actually I’m guessing she already had an idea it was Clint (Hawkeye) but traveled to Japan to see how he was doing. They clearly have a bond (which I hope they explore in the Black Widow prequel) which is more important than their differences in Captain America Civil War.  Avengers Endgame Trailer Hawkeye Ronin

Hawkeye finally returns as the rumored-Ronin in Japan. Looks like he’s swapped the bow and arrow for a sword and he looks absolutely bad-ass. 

Avengers Endgame Trailer Hawkeye Ronin

You can see the sadness in his eyes. Rumor has it that his family (as seen in Avengers Age of Ultron) were victims of the snap destroying Clint’s life and turning him into Ronin, deadlier and more violent. I can’t say I blame him. If anyone killed my dogs, I’d become a Ronin too.

Avengers Endgame Trailer Captain America Black Widow

It feels so good and looks so good seeing Steve Rogers back in his Captain America costume. As the leader of the Avengers, Black Widow is looking to Cap to lead them to a victory. This is similar to how my dogs look at me.

Avengers Endgame Trailer Peggy Carter

“This is the fight of our lives” Cap says as he looks at a picture of Peggy Carter. I think that he is going to be reunited with her courtesy of the time stone. Some people think he will go back and time and live out his life with her in the past, but I’m going to make the opposite guess and say that she will be brought forward in time, into our time of need. That could be a little awkward for Steve since he did kiss her niece in Avengers Civil War.

Avengers Endgame Trailer Black Widow

“Steve – bring us to the promised land.” The Russo brothers gave us a cryptic message and said that Chris Evans “isn’t done yet” as Captain America. Almost everyone believes that Captain America is going to die in Avengers Endgame but I don’t think this is the case. I really don’t know what to make of their comment and the guesses are endless: Does he go back in time to grow old with Peggy Carter? Does he retire and become more of a mentor that Marvel can bring off the bench as needed (i.e. Tony Stark in Spider-Man Homecoming)?

Avengers Endgame Trailer Dust

Some people jokingly were guessing the Avengers 4 title as The Unsnappening, or the reversal of Thanos’ snap. This is what the unsnappening would look like. Dust and broken pieces returning to their full form. 

Avengers Endgame Trailer Logo

After so many incorrect guesses from Avengers Annihilation, Avengers Assemble, Avengers Divide & Conquer, the Russo brothers have stopped playing games and revealed the title at the end: Avengers Endgame. I gotta say – I absolutely love it. They did try to throw us off the trail by saying that the title of the movie was never mentioned in a movie, but the word “endgame” was mentioned by Tony in Avengers Age of Ultron and of course by Doctor Strange in Avengers Infinity War.

Avengers Endgame Trailer Captain America

Marvel trailers typically end on a lighter note and this one is no different. Clean-shaven Steve Rogers in disbelief that Ant-Man is alive. They must have assumed at this point that he was a victim of the snap.

Avengers Endgame Trailer Ant-Man

Captain America’s number one fan boy Ant-Man. We all know that he (along with the quantum realm) are going to play a significant role in not only reversing the snap, but the future of the Marvel Universe as well. The question is weather the quantum realm will act as a vehicle for time travel, the multiverse, or both. My money is on both.

Additional Trailer Thoughts

 Captain Marvel not appearing was a bit surprising but understandable being that she just dropped her own epic trailer this week and Marvel likely didn’t want to confuse the more casual consumer.

I didn’t expect to see any of the heroes that were killed by the snap otherwise this would be a major spoiler (hey! everyone is coming back to life!). But it will be interesting to see how Sony addresses this (if at all) in their Spider-Man : Far From Home trailer (expected to drop Saturday). Likely they’ll just ignore it. Unless they’re tricking us all and Peter Parker is actually staying dead and will be replaced by Miles Morales. 

I liked that this trailer did not give away any specific plot points. It’s a very dry trailer in terms of exposing new plot elements and I think this is for the best.

As my friend Ray said, “You know it’s bleak when Ant-Man and Hawkeye are poised as the saviors of the universe.” Pretty interesting how two heroes who lack actual superpowers (beyond skill or technology) are going to save a super soldier and a god of thunder. 

RIP Stan Lee.

What did you think about the Avengers: Endgame trailer? I would love to hear your thoughts! You can e-mail me adam@befreemysheeple.com. And of course message me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple.

If You Don’t Love Your Job, You Should Watch This

 

A few days ago I shared some thoughts over my Instagram Stories @adamfrancisco about how to become a digital nomad and it got a lot of positive feedback through DMs and private messages on Facebook so I wanted to make it available here. I didn’t think I would end up using the videos after the 24 hours expired so the content is very raw and somewhat disorganized (I mean, look at my hair) but I think the message can inspire some people. If you don’t love your job, you should watch this.

Key Highlights

“Your future is not guaranteed. You might never be 60 or 70 so don’t keep thinking that you’re gonna make it that far”

“If you’re one of those people that makes over six figures and you don’t really love your job, you could probably make $15,000 a year remotely.”

“As long as you have a boss, you’re not really gonna be in control of your own life, of your own time, of your own freedom”

“Freedom is the most powerful currency.”

“Besides freedom, the other most important currency is health. Without health, all the money in the world doesn’t really mean much. Ask any billionaire who has a terminal disease if they would trade all their money for health and the answer is gonna be yes. So really, health, time & freedom…I think those are the top 3 currencies.”

“I think that advertising is to blame in a big way because our job as advertisers is to convince people to buy things that they don’t need or to tell them what they want.”

The Subtitles (Because I’m a New Yorker and I talk fast)

***

All right guys so to recap …

The weather here’s beautiful, especially if you go the beaches where you get a nice breeze, it’s a lot cooler, less humidity. Everything’s cheap. So my personal recommendation to all of you…

My recommendation is get a taste for it now while you’re young. Your future is not guaranteed. You might never be 60 or 70 so don’t keep thinking that you’re gonna make it that far. Get a taste for it today. And here’s how you do it.

So many of you are going to retire one day and you’re probably going to want to retire at the beach. I mean that’s just a fact.  Look at Florida. Look at all of our grandparents. They all go to Florida or they move somewhere warm. So you’re gonna want to retire at the beach. My recommendation is…

Try to save up $10-$15,000 dollars instead of spending it on stupid shit like brand name clothes, or things you don’t really need. Save that money, take a gap year. A life gap year. Just leave your life for a year.

Get rid of your rent. Get rid of your car payments Get rid of your … whatever you don’t need. Even your phone bill. Get rid of that too. Live rent-free. It’s so cheap out here. And you can just travel for a whole year on like, 15,000 bucks. You can travel for an entire year in Southeast Asian and the beautiful part about traveling is not only is it good for your Instagram, but it also expands your mind and shows you new culture and meet new people. It’s great.

Now look. If you are one of the 1% of people out there that really loves their job, then you know what, good for you. You hit the lottery. For most people, they don’t like their jobs or their job is a headache or a nuisance. You deserve a year off.

Here’s another thing. I’m 35 now. I know a lot of my friends make over six figures now so if you’re one of those people that makes over six figures and you don’t really love your job, you could probably make $15,000 a year remotely. Think about that. You probably could do that if you really tried.

Now companies are trying to be progressive now with these remote work cultures and “unlimited vacation days” but as long as you have a boss, you’re not really gonna be in control of your own life, of your own time, of your own freedom so just think about how you can become more free.

If LA (Los Angeles) taught me anything, freedom is the most powerful currency. Having actual unlimited vacation days…oh here’s my breakfast. Hey girl, what’s up?

And yes, Asia may not be for you. You might not like Asia or Southeast Asia. Whatever. You can really do this anywhere you want. You can go to Eastern Europe, South America, Central America, Africa. There’s so many other places.

One quick footnote: besides freedom, the other most important currency is health. Without health, all the money in the world doesn’t really mean much. Ask any billionaire who has a terminal disease if they would trade all their money for health and the answer is gonna be yes. So really, health, time & freedom…I think those are the top 3 currencies. Somehow, our society messed up along the way and we made money the most important factor in the world. And there’s a lot of people that have enough money to be very happy and they just keep chasing and chasing like it’s an endless video game. Like an endless runner. And I love this meme.

Stop Chasing Money

Honestly I think that advertising is to blame in a big way because our job as advertisers is to convince people to buy things that they don’t need or to tell them what they want. And therefore, they need more money.

I used to live in New York City and I had an apartment for $4,000 dollars a month but I also had a job. I was drinking 5 nights a week with clients and I had very little time to myself. Very little time. So now that I’m out here in Thailand. Or even when I was in LA, I drank once a month. Twice a month maybe. And I had so much personal free time. It was awesome.

And so while I loved LA, I had to leave because you need to work hard to make money to sustain that lifestyle in LA or New York, even though LA is cheaper than New York. I had to move here to stop the financial hemorrhaging and bleeding and I’m stabilized now. 

So anyway, if you are upset with your job, if you hate the routine, the monotony, if you hate having to rush your vacation days, and rush your gym time and personal time, DM me and let’s brainstorm how we can make you a little bit freer. I’m happy to help.

If you’re already married, I’m sorry for your loss. But if you’re not married and you’re single, I recommend taking a gap year and traveling the world meeting people from all around the world. Just living this free life. I’ll tell you this much guys, the single best part of traveling single is you get to meet local people of the opposite sex and they get to show you their country in the most authentic way. It’s incredible.

That’s not an innuendo. I literally mean they take you to the best local restaurants, the coolest places.

I was in Laos (it’s pronounced Lao not Laos by the way) 2 years ago and I met up with a local Laotion. She invites me to this park which was an hour outside of town and I never would have gone or heard about it because it was so far out of town that tourists don’t really go there. But she was a local so we went out there. It was awesome. We had a great time at the park. We took a lot of great photos. I’ll put some in this feed. She then invited me to a wedding that night. How cool is that? I went to a traditional Laos wedding. It was so cool.

Of course I had no dress clothes with me so she said let’s go the mall and let’ buy an outfit so I’m thinking the malls that we’re used to seeing in America. In Laos, they don’t really have a mall. It’s just street vendors and that was their mall so I bought an entire wedding outfit for like $15 bucks.

That’s my rant for the day. Hope you guys enjoyed it. I hope you guys watched the whole thing. If not, that’s cool too. I’m gonna go get a foot massage, maybe 2 hours. You know why? Cause I deserve it.”

***

If you have any questions about becoming a digital nomad or want someone to bounce ideas off of, I’m here! You can e-mail me adam@befreemysheeple.com. And of course message me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple.