Anthony Bourdain’s Travel Essentials Involve a Lot of Self-Defense

Uh, are you sure you can take that through security?

By The Editors
April 27, 2017 9:00 am

It stands to reason that if you do something often, you’ll get pretty damn good at it.

So our ears perked when we saw that the most recent subject of the New York Times’ travel essentials series was celebrity chef and far-flung travel nut Anthony Bourdain (whose show, Parts Unknown, returns for its ninth season this month).

First things first: he notes that there’s no one to be agitated by the slowness of a security line. “Don’t get angry,” he said. “It doesn’t help. Like a recidivist convict, you should go limp. Nothing else. And dress for security. I don’t carry liquids or gels, I don’t wear a belt or any jewelry, I get my stuff out and in the tray very quickly and I’m through.”

We mention it because, as frequent travelers, it never ceases to boggle our minds at how many people still don’t understand the logic of airport security. Yes, the security officials are slow. But they have an excuse: protecting us. You, dear traveler, have no excuse for not removing all of your metals from your body and placing them in your carry-on while you’re waiting in line.

Okay, rant over. Here are the edgy toque’s essentials:

  1. Pillow Substitute: he brings a puffy jacket in lieu of a neck rest (here’s a good one).
  2. Moleskine notebooks: your humble correspondent does this, too, and prefers handwriting to taking notes on his phone because a) it’s easier and b) people you’re interviewing won’t think you’re ignoring them the whole time.
  3. Gi: Bourdain does jiu jitsu for exercise, and likes to honor the tradition by carrying multiple gis in case one gets dirty. But also: he practices self-defense for exercise. Badass.
  4. Books: “The perfect book to read before you go to Vietnam is Graham Greene’s The Quiet American. Fiction seems to capture the place in a way that’s more tangible. It just works for me better than a travel guide.” Seconded.
  5. Hidden knife: he carries a small credit-card knife because “it might be a rude surprise should someone grab you from behind as you enter your hotel room.” Presumably this is also a style of knife he’s able to sneak through security.

There have got to be some good stories informing the logic of that last choice.

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