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5 November 2011 / leggypeggy

On passports—do not fold, spindle or mutilate

Southeast Asia can have serious rain. Keep your passport dry. Photo courtesy of Ian Webb.

Your passport and your money are the two most important things you’ll take on an overseas trip.

Other things are useful but, seriously, almost everything else can be replaced easily. Credit cards, for instance. If they are lost or stolen, you can cancel them and keep travelling. In case you didn’t know, they don’t always work—and let me tell you that MasterCard is much LESS likely to work than Visa, but that’s another long story.

But your passport and money are your lifelines.

So here are a few tips on looking after your passport (I’ll cover money in a different post):

• When possible, leave your passport in the truck safe or a hotel safe. Don’t leave it in your room, tent, hostel unless you are there too. If you carry it with you, put it in a secure pocket. I carry mine in a back hip pocket that has a velcro tab. My merino tops are long enough to cover the opening, and my backpack usually covers it too.

• Regardless of where your passport is, carry photocopies of it with you—not the whole thing, just pages with personal details. In some countries, is also a good idea to have a photocopy of the relevant visa too.

• Email yourself a copy of your passport’s main page, as well as copies of your birth certificate or any other paper work that confirms your identify and nationality. You can also carry these on a laptop, but laptops get stolen, lost or die, while emails (such as hotmail) are out there all the time. I’ve also carried this info on a thumb drive that I have worn around my neck.

• Keep your passport dry, especially if it’s Australian, although other nationalities may be affected too. Pop it in a zip-lock bag or some similar plastic covering. The colours on the new Aussie passports run—BIG TIME. Last year, Poor John and I got caught in a downpour in Indonesia. We had our passports in our pockets (and in a plastic sleeve provided by the Australian Government). His new passport bled all over his main page and passport photo, my old passport was fine. And here’s the really annoying rub—the Passport Office made him PAY to get a new passport. Oh, pleeze! Hey people, make a better passport. If you can incorporate a bazillion security measures in the damn thing, the least you can do is make the ink stable.

• Take along a mitt full of photographs of yourself. These are great when you need to have photos to apply for visas. Money-saving tip: the photographic place in Canberra wanted about $30 for 16 photos. That’s downright robbery. We took digital photos of each other and got them printed off at the local Dick Smith’s (an electronics/gadget place) for 9 cents each. It was a bit fiddly to cut them down to size, but 40 photos for less than $4 was worth it.

• If you travel a lot, consider buying a super-size passport. Mine cost double the price, but it has double the pages. My last normal-size passport was used up within two years. There is an exception for those who hold USA passports. Last I knew, you could still get more pages added to your passport, and I think your embassies will do this for free.

P.S. In addition to my passport and money, there is one other essential for me. I’m a buxom gal, and it’s hard to find bras in my size. I’ve brought four, but have only used two, so I have two back-ups, or should I say hold-ups, in reserve. 🙂


Leave a Comment
  1. Derrick / Nov 5 2011 9:05 pm

    I’m sending off my old passport, going to get the supersize one with extra pages

    I wont have enough pages otherwise, that is a good idea about carrying spare photos (why didnt I think of that)

    I have always carried the photo copy of my passport, but usually just the front page (I got it laminated) but never really had to show it to anyone

    I dunno if a UK passport will have ink problems, but I’ll double bag it, just in case

    I got a couple of external hard drives, but they have audio books, films, TV shows (to play on the laptop, when things go quiet on the truck),

    I also have a couple of programs on there, others can install them, they allow other people to copy stuff from a ipod to their laptops from any ipod

    I have a couple of ipods, fully loaded with stuff to listen to

    I have a survivor thumb drive (which I wear, that has copies of my passport, photos, email addresses and stuff I think I might need)

    (I had a bergen full of stuff I MIGHT need, I cleared a lot of that stuff out though)

    I have told my Bank about my trip, the places I’m going to, and that I will be out of touch for most of the time (but I dont think they will take any notice of it, BUT maybe when I get to India, I can drop into the call center 🙂

    I’m going to give it a miss on the bra’s though


    • leggypeggy / Nov 5 2011 9:50 pm

      Amen—tell your bank where you are going. It’s saved us a lot of hassle. And it’s essential to have enough pages in your passport, even a few more than are recommended. Derrick, I think you are on top of things. Perhaps we’ll meet when you get to OZ.


      • Derrick / Nov 5 2011 10:18 pm

        when I get to Oz and finish up the trip and we all go our seperate ways, I’m hoping to stay on a shortish time and have a look round, I’m not going to know anyone, so I’d like to meet a ‘local’ so they can show me their home town
        You have my email address, I’m only an email away 😉
        I dont mind ‘couch surfing’ (as the septics call it)

        What I am trying to do is get things all in place, rather than sorting it out and worrying on the trip (and all your blogs, tips are really helping, I just hope I can do as good a job as you have done, this blog has got to be the longest and most informative I have ever read, and everything you have told me is really appreciated, I owe you a ‘tinny’


  2. Louise M Oliver / Nov 5 2011 10:39 pm

    Very good advice as always Peggy. I’m going to copy and paste some of these blogs so’s that I can hang onto them. Come the revolution, or getting my superannuation, I too will travel and I’ll need to know all this stuff and more. I’m with you about the passports. It surely can’t be right to make people pay for something that isn’t their fault. But wait! It’s the government! Sorry, I was being logical but I’m over it now.

    As always, best wishes to you and Poor John and all the other travellers.



  3. Graham Letcher / Nov 6 2011 6:09 pm


    Heard this before – as you say run prof ink aint a 21st century invention yet to happen, surely….

    Link your post to the DFAT passports page (fb)? Or use

    I’d say email KRudd, but I suspect Foreign Mins don’t read email. Aaaaahhhhh – he’s a Twitter nut though.

    Canberra is still here, awaiting your retunr.



    • leggypeggy / Nov 7 2011 11:05 pm

      Thanks Graham. I’ll try to link it to the DFAT page. Still irked they made John pay for a new one. 🙂


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