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11 November 2011 / leggypeggy

On guarding your valuables—go ahead, be anal

Poor John—new mosque, new robe, same stride—carrying the camera as usual.

Remember—your passport and money are the most important things you’ll take travelling. Everything else can be purchased or replaced. That said, I have to admit that I’m extremely attached to my laptop, camera and iPod. I don’t have a mobile phone to obsess about, so that’s one less worry.

Of course, the next most important thing is to hang on to all these cherished possessions for the duration of the trip. I almost hate to bring up this subject before the end of this trip, so picture me touching wood all over the place and listen for my bloodcurdling screams if anything goes missing.

Passport and money

My passport and money usually live in the truck safe—referred to cryptically as the fridge, as in ‘Does anyone need to get anything out of the fridge?’ I have a story about a fridge named Trevor in Africa, but that will have to keep for now.

Our fridge is concealed somewhere in the truck. I won’t say where. Every truck is different, so wait and see where your fridge lives. Our fridge has two different padlocks, each with its own key. We take it in turns to ‘mind’ the keys. Every week, two people—never a couple—each hold one of the keys. We open the fridge occasionally—at border crossings (when everyone needs their passports) or when people need money. The truck door is shut during this process so prying eyes don’t see what we’re doing.

But for several weeks now, we’ve had to carry our own passports. That’s because instead of bush camping, we’ve been staying in Southeast Asian hotels and hostels, and they always want to see our passports and record the details. We have our passports tucked away in pockets that have velcro flaps.

As of yesterday we’re carrying our money, too. The truck doesn’t travel beyond Singapore—it’s shipped back to the UK—so we’ll be travelling on public transport until we reach Australia. We have a deluxe money wallet—sure beats the crappy black plastic bag we used in Africa—but the money isn’t in it. Our shorts have zippered pockets and we reckon the money is safer there than in the wallet in the backpack. Pickpocketing is an art form in the developing world. Plus, backpacks can get slashed, yanked off arms or forgotten in restaurants.

Every morning before we set out, I do a personal pocket check to make sure everything is in place and secure. So far, so good.

The gadgets

I pay just as much attention to the laptop, camera and iPod.

The camera lives in it’s carry case and lucky Poor John usually gets to carry it. 🙂 I’m so used to him picking it up that a few terse words are fired his way if he ever forgets to bring it, which happens occasionally. The laptop and iPod ‘ride’ with me in the daypack.

Nothing gets left behind on the truck. The exception is sometimes overnight when I think there might be a chance that the tent could be slashed, in which case, I think the gear is safer locked away in the truck. That’s when I park it out-of-sight on the overhead rack.

By and large, we’ve been lucky on this trip. One camera has been stolen and that was from a hostel in Tbilisi in Georgia. A few other items have died, been lost or broken.  The truck that left London just after us has not fared as well. In Turkey, someone left a truck window open when they all went to lunch. An opportunist climbed in and stole everyone’s precious gear—laptops, iPods, phones, cameras, e-readers. What a blow.


Leave a Comment
  1. Derick / Nov 12 2011 1:39 am

    A system very similar to most treks, IF there was a shortish stop, they used to leave 2 on the truck, and if anyone wanted to do a quick shop, they swapped when someone came back

    We did a ‘last man off’ they checked everything was secure, then as a bacc up, the guide did a once over, okay it may seem a little OTT, but when you think how much people have in ‘stuff’ to some its a fortune, and too lose just an ipod nano, could really make a bad trip for someone, let alone the loss of a laptop or phone

    I think personal security on a truck should be paramount importance

    On the subject of back packs or ruck sacks, they are easily slashed or snatched, so money and passpoer should be in a zipped pocket, may seem a bit daft, but I carry my ruck on one arm and in front of me, I dont want to lose my camera, let alone anything else,

    I have always had my passport on me (annoying at times) but have also had the pphoto copy with mei only have the amount of money I need for the day, the rest is in the fridge

    I think most trek company’s work the same way, its tried and tested, but the lock for the truck wast broken 3 times (not broken into, but the code was changed, no one ever knew who changed it, but it had to be cut off (and we all had to chip in to buy a new one)

    On the subject of TEMPLES, I have seen shedloads, all in various shapes and sizes and disreapair, I’ll pass on them, thanks


  2. Sy S. Metro NYC / Nov 12 2011 1:51 am

    Good Day (Morning,Afternoon,Evening) LeggyPeggy,

    It is Friday morning here in Metro NYC…. very chilly outside and the trees have peeked for fall colors…. a beautiful fall morning… and “Veterans Day” a holiday. And I tip my hat to all the Veterans who have served in the military services.

    One of my biggest concerns while traveling is getting robbed, beaten…. thieves taking my possessions. I almost lost my suitcase in Kabul, but grabbed the bus driver by the collar (verbal threats and a little shaking him up) and there it was hiding inside the engine compartment. I was lucky to have a Swiss friend to travel with for several months and an American friend for another several months (both met while traveling)…best/important to have a buddy while traveling.

    Also, my big concern is totting around two big expensive cameras on my neck/shoulder (straps) and for the world to see…. and risky if you take pictures of people who object. For future trips I will use a camera bag which does not look like a fancy one (I own one, small black cloth) or a laptop case.
    Aside- In the past losing the film and photos of my travels was a risk (but all got back to my home safely, via Kodaks developing envelops to the USA). Now that we have the internet, I could upload may images to a hosting image service. And as second backup, mail back to my home some memory cards. And the cost of my equipment would be two Nikon camera bodies, two lens and a flash which would be over $7,000+ Yaks…. I think I would have to take out some kind of insurance, just in case… and sleep with them under my pillow or chained to my legs. LOL

    Peggy, keep taking photos… I really enjoy all that you have posted to date… you should be able to get some great photos in Bali. BTW, I rented a motorcycle and toured the Island…

    Sy S.
    Private First Class, Army
    (4 1/2 decades ago)


  3. leggypeggy / Nov 14 2011 1:14 am

    Glad you two got home with all your belongings and memories. Hope I make it too. 🙂


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