Little Bunch of Madmen: travel tips from a war correspondent (part 2), ‘the one essential is cash’

Further tips from war correspondent Mort Rosenblum‘s Little Bunch of Madmen (see part 1).

Packing principles:

A smart approach is simple enough: pack money, maps, medicine, computer, phone, charging cords, and assorted bits. Take an absolute minimum of clothes with something, just in case, to get you into a presidential dinner. If you need to be reminded about the passport, be an options trader.

And later (emphasis added):

In the end, you can always improvise or borrow kit. Travel documents can be replaced or, in extremis, finessed. The one essential is cash.

The advice about carrying extra cash cannot be overestimated. Too many travelers are reliant on credit cards and ATM cards. Yes, cash can be lost or stolen, but like a stock going to zero, the loss is capped at the amount you have, and that should be considered insurance or the potential risk cost of travel. It is not like short-selling with unlimited potential losses. Carry enough cash to not risk getting in a pickle.

Travel light, whenever possible:

Traveling light lets you change your mind at last minute, grab the only cab when everyone else is stuck in baggage claim, and walk across borders with a gaggle of dubious porters.

Security humor:

I’ve had inspectors take away cigar cutters that could not circumcise a cockroach. You will miss that liter of 12-yeard -old single malt, even if you don’t drink. It could persuade the good at the roadblock not to ruin your week.

Essential gear:

Photographer Gary Knight packs unperfumed baby wipes, cables, spares for everything, lots of ziploc bags, gaffer tape, Sharpie’s markers, parachute cord, Tiger Balm and flip flops and scarfs.

And, particularly for those who traipse around Southeast Asia with sarongs over their pasty skin:

Unless there is a specific purpose, it is best to not overdo local garb. You are not likely to fool anyone.

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