I'm a travel novice about to embark on a world tour with a deliberately fuzzy itinerary. Help me navigate the mysterious badlands of interacting with immigration & customs officials, rogue cops, and hostel mates. Time-saving travel "hacks" for quickening the visa approval process are also greatly appreciated.
I'd like to be armed with as much common sense as possible before starting my journey. I know almost nothing about how visas work and what raises flags at borders and airports (besides obvious things like yelling "Death to America!"). I'm less concerned about being stuck up by a knife-wielding thief than I am about being thrown into a holding cell for looking at an immigration officer the wrong way.
My vague sequence of zones is as follows, starting from Canada:
The Czech Republic (optional)
The Schengen Zone (Western Europe)
USA (east coast this time)
and back to Toronto.
I don't imagine responding to "how long to you plan to stay in X?" with "I really have no idea", and to "papers please" with "what papers?" goes over well. Obviously Europe won't be as big a concern as the first half of my trip, but I'd still rather not come off as an utter dunce. What are some questions from immigrations and customs officials that I need to be wary of?
Do I need to get all my tourist visas for SE Asia, India, and the Middle East before I purchase my first ticket? In case I do run into trouble at the airport, what recourse do I have with the Canadian government? How do I deal with potential shakedowns by corrupt cops? What about situations like this one
(scroll down to "Act One. Chinese Checkmate.")?