The worlds most optimistic smuggler?

I’m starting to realise that the custom agencies of the world take one look at me as I pass through and assume that I’m possibly the worlds most naive and optimistic smuggler. It seems to be the combination of being (sorta) young, travelling light, and alone, to a country for only a couple of days that triggers every flag they’ve got. I can imagine the conversation “He’s only got one bag.” “Come on, he’s too obvious…” “It’s as if he tempting us… Sod it, get the gloves.”

I travel light because I travel a lot, and I’ve learned exactly what I do and don’t need. Most people over estimate how much clothing they need (it might be hot, take the T-shirt and shorts. Although that’s a cloud… grab the jacket and wellington boots as well.) and misjudge how much time they’ll have to spend reading etc. I’ll only take the essentials (plus a day or two) and use either the hotel or local dry cleaners if anything goes wrong.

Over the course of the many stop and searches (the Australian customs official was possibly the friendliest I’ve met. Although he did mention the cricket…) one of the things I’ve noticed they like is hard copy proof of what you’re doing in the country. A printed confirmation of the hotel booking, conference registration (with address) and a schedule seems to go a long way to alleviating their fears that you’re there for some nefarious purpose. Especially if they “discover” it without being directed by you.

So here’s to FOSDEM in Brussels and the next customs agent that takes a shine to me.