Ok, this isn’t a hack really but a tip. There are four things I always keep in my passport wallet. Passport, spare credit card, copy of travel insurance policy and some cash. I don’t recommend keeping cash inside your actual passport, but rather in your passport wallet – you don’t want to hand your passport over to an immigration official with cash in it – they might think you’re bribing them! Anyway, read on….
When I was in Montevideo, Uruguay two years ago, I was heading back to Buenos Aires for my last night before flying home to Australia. Not wanting to take any cash out from an ATM in Montevideo – Uruguayan Peso – I decided I’d get some Argentinian Peso on arrival in Buenos Aires to pay for my last nights hotel and transfer to the airport the next day. I was collected by the B&B manager at the ferry and taken to my accommodation and he was picking me up the next day to take me to the airport. When I opened my wallet to go to an ATM, my card was gone. While I had another card, I’d maxed that out. I even had a third card I could transfer to, but it would take a business day and this was the weekend. After about 4 hours of phone calls the next day to MasterCard and a dash to the Western Union, I finally had some cash in my hand to pay my bill, exactly 10 minutes before my transfer – I’d put all my eggs in one basket.
A year ago a friend was off to Bali for work. A few days prior he had lost his wallet. No worries, he cancelled the cards and was issued with replacements a few days prior to leaving. Bali has a visa fee payable upon arrival and while they do accept cards for payment, you require a pin and cant sing, and do you think he could remember his newly issued PIN number at immigration? It took several calls back home to locate the newly arrived PIN (still in the bin) before he could enter the country. – Cash is king.
I heard from colleague, something similar happened to one of their clients the other day. Upon boarding their flight at London Heathrow heading to Sydney, they had realised their wallet was missing. Stolen, lost or simply misplaced, their flight was boarding, they still had their passport and a spare credit card, and with little time to spare for security to search for it let alone call the police, and not wanting to delay the plane, they decided to board and continue on their way home. They had a 14 hour transit, for which they had pre-booked a hotel. Upon arrival, they tried ATM after ATM and all of them were down or their bank in Australia was experiencing issues. They called the hotel and asked for a shuttle to pick them up, for which the response was they needed to catch a cab. They had no money and no access to any. The next 14 hours were spent on that airport floor, fountain water was all that was available – Darn you cashless society!
These stories are all true, and while either a silly mistake, forgetfulness or an accident, they could have been easily sorted with some cash on hand. While you may also say “Don’t keep your eggs in one basket” remember a bit of cash with your passport – which should be your most treasured document, alongside your travel insurance of course, when travelling – may just get you out of a spot of bother.