Globe-trotting Paul ‘Mungo’ Mungeam always packs a camera – and this surprising everyday item.
This cameraman is ready for his own closeup.
Paul Mungeam, better known as Mungo, has viewed the world through his adventurous lens for more than 20 years – most memorably as Bear Grylls’ cameraman on “Man vs. Wild.” But now it’s the 46-year-old father’s turn to step in front of the camera with “Expedition Mungo.”
His new six-part Animal Planet series airing Sunday nights at 10 p.m. journeys to remote locations in Peru, Argentina, India and more to separate the fact from fiction in local myths and legends about mysterious creatures like monkeymen and shapeshifting witches. And Mungo is ecstatic about calling the shots at last.
“I can finally voice my opinion and my thoughts, whereas for 20 years I’ve been keeping quiet behind the camera,” he told Moneyish. “When you’re in front the camera, people seem to listen to you more, especially when it’s your show. Finally I can say what I think, and hopefully people will find it interesting.”
Mungo has picked up plenty of interesting travel tips after spending decades traveling to more than 90 countries and hostile environments.
“Pack light,” he said, noting he once spent up to four months visiting 24 countries between Ireland and Australia with just one bag – and that pack included his video equipment. “I just took a couple pairs of shorts, a few pairs of socks … and we washed things as we went,” he said. So consider staying in a place with access to a washer and dryer, and wear just a few versatile essentials. Plus, it’s a great way to outsmart airline baggage fees.
But he never leaves without a fully charged cell phone, a credit card with plenty of credit left on it – and string, of all things. “A piece of string can be spare (shoe) laces. It can be a belt. It can be a washing line. It can be a security thing for your door,” he said. “It’s amazing how many ways you can use a piece of string.”
He doesn’t travel with anything expensive, except for his camera equipment – which he rents. “So if they get nicked, it’s really not my problem!” he laughed. But he wouldn’t have captured his most amazing shots in treacherous tundras, caverns and volcanoes if he was shooting with something special to him. “If I want to hang off a cliff and get a shot with Bear, I’ll take more risks if it’s not my own camera,” he said.
You’ve probably left your hotel room TV on when you went out to turn off potential thieves – but was it an English channel? That screams “tourist” outside of the U.S. or U.K. “Leave the TV on in the local language so that people think you’re a local,” Mungo said.
Take a picture of your passport, ID, credit cards or other important documents, and email them to yourself in case they get stolen. “Even if your phone gets nicked, just get to your email, visit an internet cafe, and you can get ahold of your documents again,” Mungo said.
But Mungo’s number one tip for traveling – or for life, really – is to be organized.
“You’ve gotta have a system,” he said. “If you camp, you’ve gotta know where your boots are at night, you’ve gotta know where you’re headtorch is, just in case something happens. Don’t leave anything on the floor in the jungle – hang things off your hammock. You don’t want to wake up in the morning with a million soldier ants on everything. It’s all about short, sharp drills.”
And that works just as well for personal finance as it does for traipsing through jungles. Mungo admitted that when he first started making money off of his adventures, he spent it as fast as he earned it. But a financial advisor put him on the right track with this simple trick: He sets up paying off his credit card balance automatically – and in full – every month.
“You won’t spend it if you can’t clear it,” he said. “It’s probably the best bit of financial advice I ever had. I learned to live within my means. And it gives you an incredible sense of freedom, because I haven’t got this weight, this debt over me. Living relatively debt-free is a fantastic thing.”
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