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Passport

Hello (again)

Just wanted to get everyone's opinion here. Is it necessary to carry your passport and all of your credit cards everywhere? I was planning on using the hotel safe but I read that those aren't always 100% secure either. Any tips or ideas of what you may have done in the past that worked would be appreciated! Thanks!

Posted by
168 posts

Always carry them in my money belt. Never would trust a hotel safe as a few hotel employees could have access to them. I also use locks on my suitcase to protect items that would be hard to replace.

Posted by
20223 posts

This will trigger the perpetual question to carry or not to carry. I always carry my passport as the only thing that proves I am legally in the country. In 20+ years I have been only asked twice to show it and I am glad I had it both times. Some countries require you to have it. I mean, how big a deal is it to carry it? You carry your driver's license every day. The passport and back up cash and credit cards are in the money belt. That way I always know where it is. For me, not a big deal.

Others will say, just leave it in the hotel safe. There is no definite answer. Hit the search button. This question has been discussed a hundred or more times. -- With the same answer.

Posted by
127 posts

Frank is right. This is a perpetual question.

The way I would answer it is this.

  1. I would never leave important documents like a passport in my luggage (if the hotel does not have a safe).

  2. Context matters. Are you in Dublin or Rome? What's your sense of the hotel security? Do you think that you might need your passport while out-and-about?

  3. What are you doing? If the hotel has a safe, seems secure, and the plan is to go swimming at the local beach then I would use the safe over taking all my documents with me.

Personally, I generally take my documents with me. Other than the passport, I wouldn't leave my home without my wallet. Why would I do that overseas, even if it means wearing a belt or neck wallet? IN ALL CASES, SITUATIONAL AWARENESS IS THE KEY CONSIDERATION.

Posted by
4572 posts

Does the Czech Republic law require you to have your passport with you?

Posted by
4615 posts

C.R. requires that you have to have an ID with you. It does not specify passport. I usually carry just drivers license. Only if I go to a different town (let's say for a day trip) than my hotel is, I take my passport. If the hotel room has a safe I use it. If not I lock the passport in my luggage. The same with my credit cards unless I want to shop. I carry Czech crowns (koruna) on me but hidden. I think it is more likely that someone steals the passport and credit cards from you than from the hotel safe.

Posted by
17465 posts

No matter what country I'm in, I always carry my passport with me in my neck wallet along with my money and my ATM cards. It's the safest place I have for things; why would I carry then anyplace else? A couple of years ago, I stayed in a spa town in the Black Forest. My hotel room had a safe, but I opted to take my pass ort with me to the spa, which was "kleiderfrei", and leave it in my locker (no one saw me put it in there).

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks everyone! Just wanted to get a feel for what other visitors to Prague have done, since pick pocketing is an issue. I know it's such a common question, with no definite right or wrong answer. I am coming as prepared as I can. In the past I have used hotel safes and had no issues, but I guess no method is 100% fool proof!

Has anyone on here tried hiding their cash / credit cards in the hotel room? I read on other travel sites of people sewing their cash into curtain liners, etc. Any other tips?

Posted by
2013 posts

If it's something that, if lost, would compromise or somehow ruin my trip, then it goes with me. Period. Never used a hotel safe, certainly would not consider hiding valuables in the curtains. I travel solo so if I lose cards or passport I'd be really inconvenienced.

I use a belt loop pouch that goes inside my jeans and that contains excess cash, driver's license, debit card and spare credit card. In my cross-body purse I have my passport, cash for the day and a credit card; my wallet (more of a pouch, really, as I leave my regular wallet at home) has a clip so it's attached to the inside of my purse down at the bottom. This system has worked well for my 5 trips.

I don't know if you're a man or a woman--men have to secure wallets in buttoned pockets or wear in front pocket--or if you're travelling alone, but each person should carry their own bits, in case one is robbed the other has cards, etc.

I was recently in Prague and it can be jam packed with people so you really do have to be a bit more alert in a close throng of people.

Posted by
5525 posts

A front pants pocket does not deter a gifted pick pocket at all; I know several men who have lost wallets that way.

I have also sat at the US Embassy in Paris where I had business surrounded by American tourists who had missed planes or were in a panic about their trips as they sought to replace lost or stolen passports. Neck wallets are very visible and I think rather risky in places where pickpocketing is more like mugging. They are easy to spot and who wants someone grabbing a cord around their neck? They are probably convenient for places where that risk is low.

If I feel a need to carry passport and extra credit cards etc then I use a money belt as a body safe -- no access while out and about. In Western Europe I only do that in transit or if the hotel room doesn't have a safe. In Russia and Czeck Republic I will probably carry the passports in the money belt. I usually carry a copy of my passport and my passport card as ID when out and about. If I really need to provide my papers to the authorities (hasn't happened except at obvious things like border entry or banks in the last 55 years of European travel) then I figure having to fetch it from the hotel is the least of my worries.

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks for all of the advice. Yes I am a woman. I guess the best thing is to not put all of your "eggs" into one basket, and split everything up so you are prepared.

Posted by
4409 posts

I'd like to address the often-held feeling that hotel safes are not "safe." This is just not true. Yes, a hotel manager can access the room safes with a security code. But it is highly unlikely that regular staff, like cleaning crews, will have the access. And how would a hotel employee even know that you have something valuable in your safe? Is someone going around to each and every room opening safes? If that did happen, it would be all over Tripadvisor and Booking.com site reviews. People who had something stolen from a hotel room or safe are not going to be quiet about it. So relax and use the safe if you need to.

Also, if you use a secure way of holding your money, cards and passport while out and about, you needn't worry about pickpockets. They won't access a waist money belt. They won't access a neck pouch tucked under your shirt. They won't access a secure travel purse. They won't access a travel belt-loop wallet. It doesn't matter if they know you have one or see you access it - the point of these methods is to prevent someone else from secretly accessing it. Front pants pocket, however, is NOT secure and is quite easy for an experienced pick pocket to steal from without you ever knowing.

Posted by
1335 posts

I always carry passport in money belt along with any large amounts of currency I might have and my credit card.

In my cross body goes my daily money- usually 30-40 Euros and my debit card (if I plan to use it that day- otherwise it goes in money belt as well)- that is in a small zippered pouch and attached inside my bag way down in the bottom.

I do use hotel safe for iPad/Kindle- if by chance someone should steal those it would not be the end of the world.
I would never leave passport, money or credit cards in hotel safe.
Also carry pics of my passport, credit cards #s etc with their emergency phone numbers on my iPhone.

So far have never had a problem and feel totally secure- I can touch my passport/credit cards etc anytime I like all day long!

Posted by
3278 posts

I was pulled over by the police in Prague this summer and the officer didn't want to see my IDP...he asked for my passport once he realized I wasn't Czech. I was very glad I had it in my travel purse in the car with me. He let me go but I was sweating bullets!
Other than that I've never been asked for my passport outside of an airport or Italian hotels. That said...you just don't know.
It's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it, I say!
I'm a bit of a control-freak when it comes to important documents. I don't like leaving anything to chance (i.e. hotels safes) so my habit is to carry my passport, IDP, regular DL, and debit/credit cards on me all the time. I have an over-the-shoulder wallet that has one large zipper pouch for my sunglasses, chapstick, and phone and a separate fold out section with pockets for everything else. It's small enough to easily hold close in crowded situations (abroad and in the US) but big enough to hold everything that I think is essential when out and about. I've used it for many years and never had an issue.
Central Prague, especially in the small pedestrian streets between the main square near the astronomical clock and the Charles Bridge, can be wall-to-wall people. Take care of your possessions.

Posted by
4615 posts

When you drive you always have to have your passport with you. Police in C.R. always ask for your passsport, drivers licence, and documents about a car. They never wanted to see my Washington State Drivers Licence, IDP was enough. I guess they don't know.

Posted by
507 posts

Ok I am usually the contrarian on this blog. I have never carried my passport anywhere with me when we are out and about in the many countries we have been in. I never allow the kids to carry theirs. If you lose them well that is a huge pain of course. That includes being stopped by the local police in Mikulov, CZ. (by the way visit that beautiful little town if you get a chance) driving the wrong way on one of the streets that you can use to access one of the oldest and biggest surviving synagogues in Bohemia. My US drivers license has always suffused. I think that is the only time I have ever been checked by the police. Just lucky I guess after driving probably 10k miles in five trips.

Posted by
9746 posts

I sort of fall back on the; if you are a guest and if it is the law, sort of thinking. It is the law to carry your passport in most of Eastern / Central Europe and in Belgium.

Posted by
1 posts

Good Morning,
I'm travelling to Prague and Copenhagen in October (next month) and I received an email from the State Department that all Americans must carry their passports with them while in Prague. I was going to make a photo copy of my passport and carry that and leave the original in the safe, but after reading all the great advice and then the email; I'll def carry my passport in my money belt.
Thank you everyone.
PS. any advice for me while I'm in Prague and Copenhagen? Places to eat, see, etc.
Happy Travelling :)

Posted by
2453 posts

I have never carried my passport anywhere with me.
Neither do I. Losing my passport is one of my anxieties. All the trouble to arrange a new document isn't worth the off chance that some official asks for one. He or she has to do with a photocopy and my explanation the original is at the hotel.
(The only time I remember I was asked for a passport was in Yemen, in the days you still could go there. It was a soldier at a checkpoint outside Sana'a. He too had to do with a photocopy. He studied it intensely. Upside down. When we could go on and the taxi was at a safe distance, all the fellow passengers had a good laugh.)

Posted by
20223 posts

.... He or she has to do with a photocopy and my explanation the original is at the hotel........

I love this attitude. Typical American tourist. You deal with me. My only thoughts is --- What if he/she decided that he/she doesn't want to deal with a potentially fake photocopy with the original in the hotel room? Wonder how a photocopy of your driver's license would go over with a traffic stop in the US? If you carry your passport in a secure manner, what is the big deal. How often do you lost your driver's license in the US? So far for me, never. Why would I lose my passport? But the question will pop up again next week and we will run through the same arguments.

Posted by
4615 posts

There are many laws in the Czech Republic which even police does not know about or if they know they are not enforcing. I only take my passport with me when I drive or go out of my base city or town. If you are not causing problems they are very polite to western tourists. Obviously, you are bringing money for the country.

Posted by
2453 posts

»Typical American tourist.«
Actually I'm from the Netherlands, but I find carrying around my passport whole day a tricky business, especially when the chances of being asked for it are almost nil. It is no arrogance.

Posted by
761 posts

Frank,have you ever gotten your Passport stolen,if so you might have a different viewpoint,I am in Prague now and only carry a photocopy.A friend had hers stolen from her purse with her wallet,not a pleasant experience.
Mike

Posted by
4615 posts

Passport would be the least of my worry if I am laying on cold white slab.

Posted by
2453 posts

»...no passport, credit cards or copies.«
And for that reason I've got a copy of my passport in my wallet. No credit card for the same reason I don't carry a passport. Too many problems in case it gets lost.

Posted by
11983 posts

You don't put your passport in a purse or hand bag/day pack or any kind. That's the first object to be targeted or be lost. I don't carry a copy on me, have one in the luggage case now., only very recently. Prior to that, ie, a few years ago, I never took a copy at all. Keep it in neck pouch or the hidden pocket, even in an inside pocket of a jacket with a zipper ( one so tight that you need WD 40 to open it) You never know when you will be called upon to show it given the situation these days. At the border crossing this past June from Austria to Germany, the DB controller entered the coach, said in English, "Tickets, passport, visas." The 2 Chinese kids sitting behind me were startled, (they were the first to be checked) and said, "Visa too?" I had my passport with me, not a copy of it.

Posted by
9746 posts

We can argue the common sense of carry or not carry or copies or .... all day. In most of the old Cold War Eastern Europe it is law that you carry your passport and I think it unacceptable to, as a guest in another country, to rationalize the need or lack of need to follow their laws. Afraid you might loose your passport if you carry it? then don't go to a country were it is required that you carry it.