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Need to carry Passport if there's a room safe? Going to Rome

Hi All, I'll be going to Rome for my first trip to Europe next month. If my hotel room has a safe, do I need to carry my passport with me? I do have a moneybelt and carried it in South America and it was pretty uncomfortable. Any thoughts on this? Anyone else walk around Rome without their passport? Thanks!

Posted by
805 posts

No, absolutely not. There's no reason why you should need to carry it if your room has a safe.

Posted by
1568 posts

Personally, my passport never leaves my body.

Posted by
1449 posts

Have you tried wearing it so the pouch was in the back instead of the front? I've read many women find that more comfortable.

IMHO you'll want to wear one to carry a few other important things with you such as ATM or credit cards. If you want to use an internet cafe to log on and send mail you'll be required to show your passport (although perhaps they'll accept a copy).

One other thing -- if you carry it with you then you won't leave it behind. You'd hate to catch a train to another city only to discover checking in that your passport is still resting back in the safe in the previous town :-)

Posted by
9363 posts

I'd vote for carrying it, too. But I've used internet cafes in China, Ireland, and Spain and never been asked to show a passport to use a computer.

Posted by
3313 posts

Italy requires photo ID in Internet cafes. It's their anti-terrorism measure.

Posted by
31471 posts

Susie,

You don't need to carry your Passport with you, but if you plan on renting Audioguides at Museums or Galleries, you'll need at least a Driver's License. The D.L. could also be used at Internet Cafes.

I would be a bit nervous at leaving my Passport in a Hotel room Safe, as I've heard a few stories about burglaries and so on. I stayed in a Hostel in Rome, and locked my Passport in a steel Locker. Since I used my own high security Padlock and I had the only Key, I wasn't too worried about it.

Using the Money Belt is probably the safest option, and if this only contains the Passport, it shouldn't be too uncomfortable. Be sure to store the Passport inside a zip-lok bag as in hot weather they can become quite damp (as you might have discovered in South America).

Happy travels!

Posted by
705 posts

Never carry my passport. Personally I think it's safer in the hotel safe than on me. Do carry my drivers license as a photo id. Not had any problems using this for internet cafes or audio guides etc. Much rather leave that as security rather than my passport. No use to anyone but me if it disappears.

Posted by
934 posts

My wife and I wear the moneybelt in the back.I cant imagine anyplace is safer then under my clothing.

Posted by
16 posts

We kept our passports in the room safe in both the hotel and the riverboat during our trip to France. We did however carry photocopies with us. I used a money belt and wore it in front. It was very comfortable and at times I even forgot it was there. Hubby used a neck pouch due to being larger in the waist. We also kept photocopies of credit cards and drivers licenses in the safe as well. If you don't feel comfortable using the hotel room safe ask if there is one behind the front desk.

Posted by
79 posts

If the moneybelt is the issue, why not try an alternative? I travel with a "hidden pocket" that sits on your leg like a regular pocket would. You loop it through your belt or safety pin it on your pants. I think it feels unobtrusive. I wouldn't leave my passport in the hotel, but it sounds like some people do. I guess I tend to think about what would happen if it was stolen or forgotten: I'd have to spend hours and hours in line at the embassy. For me, walking around with it on my thigh is an easy precaution and a great alternative to spending all that time getting it replaced.

Posted by
23 posts

I'm like some of the others. I don't trust those hotel-room safes. So I carry my passport with me. It's great id. However, I try not to carry all of my really important stuff in the same place. I try to separate my passport, atm card, credit card and money. I keep the largest amount of cash in my moneybelt along with the passport, and put a bit of cash in my wallet, so I'm not diving into my moneybelt every time I need to buy something. I might also keep one of the cards in a buttton-up pocket in my jacket. When I anticipate needing to get into the moneybelt, I try to get out what I need ahead of time and as privately as possible.

Posted by
410 posts

Never carry my passport with me other than the travelling component of the trip. Would never wear a money belt.

I am a believer in behaving as you would anywhere - handbag, purse, wallet or whatever - being aware of your surroundings etc. It always surprises me that people will happily go about their home cities of New York, London, Sydney or wherever and then go to Paris or Rome on holiday and feel the need to do something completely different as regards cash, credit cards etc.

Posted by
8985 posts

People are more cautious when they travel because thieves specifically target people carrying the most amount of cash: tourists. Natives aren't worth the trouble. Being "aware of your surroundings" may be good advice if your walking alone on a deserted street in the middle of the night; but not when you are on a crowded subway or hanging out in front of a popular museum. Most pickpockets blend into their surroundings: they are polite, dress well, and don't stand out. In the end it's your money and aggravation; if you want to play Russian roulette with your money and valuable vacation time, go for it!

Posted by
79 posts

Liz, I agree with Michael. Also, how often do you run around your home city with your passport and a large sum of cash in your purse? I tend to leave my passport safely tucked away at home. And since getting home is contingent on having that passport, it's even more important that it is safe while you're abroad. If mine was stolen from my house, I would have time to report it stolen and get a replacement in plenty of time (and in my spare time) for any trip abroad. If it was stolen abroad, you have to give up your valuable sight-seeing time to get it replaced. That's the determining factor for me: how will losing it affect my trip? If my wallet with all my cards and cash was stolen, it would be excessively more difficult to fix the situation abroad than in the States. And you are right: a moneybelt is not an excuse to not be aware of your surroundings.

Posted by
365 posts

Hi, Susie: First of all I'm compelled to say, "Go Beavers!" We were in Rome a few weeks ago. You do not "need" to carry a passport. As poster Ken observes, you need to fork over some collateral to rent audioguides so you'll need a driver's license or a credit card or something of equally tangible value. Those who take excessive pride on carrying nothing but a little cash will not impress the ticket sellers at the Colosseum. You only need your passport at the airport and border crossings, other than that it is just something you need to protect. Personally, I think it's more likely I would be liberated from my passport when carrying it on my person than having it locked in a hotel safe. Lots of pickpockets and street crime in Rome, very little safe-jimmying in the decent hotels. Nothing against those who feel safer strapping all their valuables to their bods, it's just a personal preference. I used the hotel room safes, they work great.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks everyone! I appreciate all the great feedback. Go Beavs!

Posted by
11450 posts

Wow, sounds like some posters don't travel much.
I never carry my passport or atm card unless I need them that day for travel. I rent audioguides with my DL, never had a problem with that. If I need money I use my ATM , then return it to hotel safe with majority of cash,, I only carry a days worth with me at any time.
I have never heard of anyone I personally know( hearsay on these types of boards is often quoted as the truth) having had their hotel safe opened. I have had an attempted pickpockets hand in my purse!

I travel a fair amount, and I leave my valuables in a safe. I don't stay in flea bag motels,, decent, clean and budget to moderate type places.

I personally would not find being forced to spend a few extra days on holiday a huge problem. Some of you act like you will be forced to stay for weeks and work in the salt mines.. LOL

Posted by
9363 posts

For some people, particularly those on a budget, even an extra day or two could be a huge problem. I've traveled fairly extensively and I still prefer to have my passport with me. There is no better identification, and it's perfectly safe in my money belt where I know where it is. I'm not worried about anyone breaking into a hotel safe, I just prefer to have it.

Posted by
10344 posts

On the passport question, here's what Rick says on this website in Travel Tips / Safety / Tour of a Moneybelt: "Here's what to pack in your money belt: Passport: You're legally supposed to have it with you at all times."

Posted by
1158 posts

I purchased a silk moneybelt and cut the elastic band off. I am going to pin it inside my coat or whatever I am going to wear. I can fit my passport and air tickets in it. i tried to wear it around my hips inside my pants, but it feelt weird, it's to hard with all that suff in.

Posted by
1449 posts

Pat writes: "Wow, sounds like some posters don't travel much." Gee, thanks for the gratuitous insult. Everyone enjoys a helping hand from a fellow traveler.

Posted by
9363 posts

Kent, though neck pouches are nice for wearing when going through the airport and needing to keep passport, boarding pass, etc. accessible, they are pretty useless for a woman to wear under her clothes. For one thing, there is the issue of, um, the neck pouch not lying flat. And it's not very hidden if you look like you have a big square plate attached to your front. :) I'm just saying.

Posted by
10344 posts

Nancy: You're right, now I see that my suggestion did not make any sense, for a woman.

Posted by
10344 posts

Barbara: great idea to use both. I've never done it that way but after reading your post, I'm leaving this week and I have both already and I'm going to use both, just as you did.

Posted by
1003 posts

Barbara, I was (am - still in italy!) in the same situation as you - first time big trip to europe and not sure what to do so I bought both. And I have done exactly the same as you, use the moneybelt for "deep storage" and the neck pouch across my body as a little purse/pouch for traveling days. but honestly, I have felt safe everywhere I've been (including Barcelona, where I wore the moneybelt every day). In hotels I've had that have electronic-combination safes where I myself set my own combination, I have used it and haven't had a problem.
Maybe in Rome you need ID to get an audioguide but I got several in Vienna and didn't need any ID whatsoever. So perhaps that's inconsistent. Anyway, Susie, most important thing is that you have a GREAT TIME and take whatever precautions you personally need to take to feel comfortable so you can go there and not worry about it. :)

Posted by
11450 posts

A helping hand. My advice from my experiences, is that in answer to the OPs actual question " "do I need to carry my passport around with me" ,, the answer is "no" ,, only if you are fearful of having your hotel safe robbed .
Statistically greater chance you will be hit by a car crossing the street in Paris then having your hotel safe broken into by rogue desk clerks or maids on a mission!
As for carrying id with you,, carry your DL,, I have used it serveral times and had no problem with it,, and it is no skin off my nose to lose it either.

If trying to do banking or get a tourist tax refund then yes, you must have your passport for id.

Posted by
36 posts

As a first time traveller this summer, the whole issue of moneybelts was a new one to me, so I purchased both a round-the-waist type and a neck pouch figuring I'd sort it out over the five weeks I was in Europe. Both were made from soft lingerie-type fabric. Turns out, I mainly used the waist belt for "deep storage" which included the bulk of my cash, and my passport on non-travel days. The neck pouch was great for quicker access, and still safer than my tiny over-the-shoulder purse I had brought along for day money only & a lipstick, etc. To store my passport while travelling, stash a withdrawl from an ATM or similar, the neck pouch was easier to access than the waist belt, but was still secured under my clothing. As for the issue of bulk on the chest, the strap on the neck pouch (which adjusted for length) was long enough to extend down to my waist so I could tuck it into the top of my pants. Comfort was never an issue, once you got used to them. My passport stays with me always.

Posted by
192 posts

Passport Horror Story:
A group of 6 traveled to Europe. One of the group (he's in his early 60's) refused to carry his passport with him (and there were no hotel safes), but instead would leave it 'hidden' in his room, along with most of his $$. The day we were to take a train from Rome to Florence, as we waited in line to get the tickets, this fellow discovered that his passport, $$, security belt, etc. were NOT with him. They also were not in his suitcase, or in any pockets.
Long story short--a phone call to the hotel revealed that he had left all of this stuff ON THE BED IN HIS ROOM. An anxious half-hour later he had it all back with him, but his BP had reached new heights by then.

Posted by
11450 posts

AHA!!!!!!!!

Well Margaret,, that is my point exactly, the hotel staff did NOT steal his stuff now did they,, they could have easily since he LEFT IT ON THE BED, which incidently has nothing to do with wearing a money belt or using a safe,, no one wears a money belt to bed or in the shower, so at some point everyone removes their passport to somewhere, a shelf in the bathroom, the safe , what ever,, and most of us would remember to PICK IT BACK UP, he did not.

I do not consider this a " passport horror story" but an absent minded mistake that could happen to anyone regardless of how they carry or stow their passport.

Posted by
79 posts

Pat, I think Margaret was referring to the fact that you don't have to have thieves in the hotel for a hotel safe to be problematic: you can easily forget your stuff in the hotel. If you are wearing your passport, you won't be as likely to check out of your hotel without it. Also, as another poster mentioned, I am almost positive you are legally supposed to have your passport with you at all times. I couldn't find it quickly on the government webpages or else I would have posted the link, but I'm almost positive. Of course, not everyone does this, but technically it's supposed to be with you.

Posted by
11450 posts

Becca,, even if a person DOES wear a money belt everywhere, they have to take it off to shower and sleep ( or at least one would hope) there fore they are JUST AS LIKELY to forget in the hotel room as a person who does not wear a money belt every day. The friend left it on the bed,, NOT in a safe.

AS for the law you are referring too, no one can ever find that link( but often it is referred to as " I have heard"),, but ,, the fact is a DL is id, and apparently this "law" is that one is required to carry ID.
Has anyone ever heard of tourists being arrested for not having their id on them ,, by what, storm troopers patrolling tourist sites id ing tourists,, geesh, I am sorry, but some of you live in weird fear.
Really, do what ever makes you feel good. I just feel unsafe walking around with all my stuff on me.

Posted by
864 posts

We've travled to Italy several times and usually I don't take my passport with me during the day but leave it in the hotel. Now I don't stay in questionable hotels or B&B's but never the less, I've never been worried about leaving it in a drawer. I have needed to leave my California Driver's license with the audio guide person several times along with a cash deposit in various church's etc. I carry my driver's license (yes in my money belt) because it is less bulky for I.D. Frankly I'm a average looking American - the cops really aren't all that worried about me.

Posted by
190 posts

I guess I am a voice of doom here, but a passport is the only way to prove your citizenship and your right to be in that country. If I were to find myself in a position where that was necessary to prove, I would expect the circumstances not to be conducive to a quick trip to the hotel. Also, some countries (might be different now with the EU) require you to carry proof of citizenship if you are not from that country. I have travelled a lot and lived overseas for many years;when traveling, I always have my passport on me; when living there, I always have some official document proving my right to be in the country. Better safe than sorry!!

Posted by
87 posts

On our trip I was carrying 4 passports - for all the family - in my moneybelt. It made me look even fatter than I am. At the first opportunity we left them in room safes. I then took our DLs and the kids school ID cards as our ID. I figure that travellers who stay in one place for a period of time would not be taking their passports with them everytime they walked out the door, so why should I. Rightly or wrongly I sure felt much more comfortable without them.

Posted by
103 posts

Hey Susie.. my husband and I made copies of our passports.. I popped them in the zelcro-ed bottoned FRONT pockets of his dockers and we wandered til our hearts were content.. We left our original passports and extra cash in our safe in our room... brought only a bit of money and an ATM card out with us.. never was concerned about pickpockets or anything else for that matter.. I guess it's because "we don't travel much"

Posted by
30 posts

Bea,

It wasn't a sleeper car. It was a regular compartment with a bench-like seat on each side that could be extended to create 3 flat sections that you could lay out on. Basically it was 3 padded seats on each side of the compartment that when extended created one large bed that took up the whole compartment. Each comparment could seat 6 people and sleep 3. There were no locks on the door. I don't think that today's trains even have such compartment cars, but I could be wrong.

Plus we were young and a little too trusting. Again this was 17 years ago in 1990.

It sucked at the time, but it made for some strong memories and we have photos from that day in Rome (it was hot as hell!) with us dunking our much longer haired heads in the fountains and looking pretty surly.

It's funny how frustrating, challenging or unlucky times while travelling become some of the strongest and most cherished memories years later.

Posted by
30 posts

Bea,

That is interesting seeing how some hotels require you to give them your passports until you check out.

Posted by
36 posts

Just returned from a 16 day European tour.
We locked our passports and extra $ hidden inside our locked suitcases during our day walks in the cities. (Hotel staff would be the only ones that could break in to the suitcases, and I don't think they would risk their jobs.) I don't like hotel safes. Yes, I heard people say well they could steal the whole suitcase, but I don't think it is highly likely that someone would break into a room and steal luggage. The hotels were we stayed were pretty secure, and not in the "bad" sections of town.

Our tour director warned everyone of pickpockets, etc. and not to leave valuables unattended. I believe this was precautionary, so in case anything did happen, the tour company could say you were warned.

While traveling on the coach from country to country, they were in the RS money belt.

The only place that asked to see a passport was a CD store in Amsterdam as we were using a credit card. The color copy I had was good enough.

Posted by
30 posts

My advise isn't about passports in Rome specifically, and my story happened in 1990, but I think it applies at least somewhat.

In 1990 my three friends and I (all 21 years old), as part of our 3 month Europe backpacking trip, were on a train from the Austrian border (you still needed to show passports between borders back then) to Rome. It was an overnight train and we were all in a 6 person compartment. We were wide awake for a time, but apparently all drifted off to sleep at about the same time. The next thing I knew I awoke to find someone leaning into our compartment trying to remove one of our backpacks from the racks above the seats. I sat up immediately and he backed off with his hands raised and proceeded to walk down the aisle. I woke up my friends and told them what happened as we all wiped the sleep out of our eyes. We all felt extremely groggy. We all got up to check our bags and one of my friends noticed that his large fanny pack was missing...

Part 2 to come.

Posted by
30 posts

Part 2 of Italian train trip story.

...After my friend noticed his fanny pack was missing we all immediately roamed the train looking for this person. We all still felt so groggy it was strange. And everyone on our train section seemed to be sound asleep even as the other sections had quite a few people still awake. After about an hour of searching and not finding the fanny pack we returned to our compartment to take stock.

It turns out that in that fanny pack were 2 of our 4 passports, 2 of our 4 eurorail passes, my frinds 35mm camera with about 10 rolls of film, about $100 cash and about $400 in traveller's checks.

So once we arrived in Rome we had to go to the American Embassy to get replacement passports which took the whole day. That left us with 2 lost eurorail passes, so we spent one night in Rome and the two of us that had lost our passes used the receipt tabs (kept seperate from the passes) to ride the train back to Germany where our home base was.

Part 3 next

Posted by
30 posts

Part 3...

...We split up on the train back because our eurorail receipt tabs were from the eurorail passes we still had. We made it to the last train stop before Ansbach (where my Mom's house is) before getting caught. The German Poletzi (sp?) were very understanding once we explained what had happened. They made the two of us without eurorail passes buy tickets from there to Ansbach (only about $20 each) and let us on our way.

Later as we reflected on our experience we commented to my Mom about how groggy we were all morning the day after the night of the robbery. She mentioned to us about how she had heard of theives in Italy who would feed sleeping gas into the vent system on overnight trains in Italy to rob people on the train. We still wonder if this is what happened to us.

Good luck in Rome!

Posted by
1158 posts

I heard that in Europe a policeman is allowed to ask tourits to show passport. Now I know there have been a lot of scams, but I am going to carry a copy of my passport besides my passport ,just in case I have to show it.

Posted by
1158 posts

Lennon,

I am sorry to heard what happened to you, but I have a question for you: Why in the wolrd you guys didn't lock your sleeper, so no one can get in.

Posted by
11450 posts

Bea,, what if someone was posing as a police man and when you went to show your passport they grab it and run off? Ok, that likely would not happen, but , I personally have never been asked to show my passport by a policeman, so I would be cautious.
Lennon, how horrible,, I know when I was young and travelling with my friend for a few months we would sleep using our bags as pillows, and we did not pack our passports in any bag but kept them on our person. We were very cautious because back then ( 1985) we still had paper tickets for the plane, and of course carried cash and travellors checks,, which would have been hard to replace in some places( like the islands on Greece that we loved!)
I have heard of this gassing thing, how horrid!

Posted by
36 posts

While travelling on the ICE train from Koln to Amsterdam this summer, three policemen boarded the train and checked the passport of every person on the car I was travelling in.

Posted by
479 posts

Being a little uncomfortable is better than being in Italy without a passport.

Something to keep in mind, I once had about 15,000 lira (about $30) stolen out of my money belt on the metro in Rome. But I was wearing a baggy fleece and the train was packed. Keep that passport on your body and make sure it's extremely secure.

Posted by
67 posts

Go BEAVS!!!!
I don't carry it all with me. I use the hotel safe and try not to worry (never had a problem so far...)
My hubby wears a moneybelt with COLOR copies of the passports (needed in case yours goes missing - you can get a replacement in 24 hrs. most anywhere where if you don't have the color copy it can take 2 weeks even with embassy help), a Xerox of the fronts/backs of all the credit cards/ATM cards we're carrying and some cash. I just use a purse and hold it close to my side or across my body just like at home - in 20 years of traveling and something like 25 trips (Europe, Asia, North America, Mexico etc.) I've never been jostled, pickpocketed or bothered. I was a little worried in Turkey, Paris & big cities of China, but no problems. One caveat about money belts: if you're using yours for Xerox/computer copies, make sure & zip lock the documents inside the belt as sweat can make the ink "disappear" and you WILL sweat in your money belt with any heat!

Posted by
67 posts

As far as putting your documents "hidden" in your suitcase in your hotel room - that's fine if you don't worry too much - I might just add a little advice: my son worked the summer at Boy Scout camp & they suggest every guy have a "lock box" with a cable lock to secure the box to their bunk or another safe structure. You could carry a cable lock and lock your suitcase to the bed frame, pipe under the sink or somewhere else to discourage someone from taking the whole thing.... my son got one for $6, drilled some holes in a metal file box and kept his valuables in that all summer with no problems. Of course, I HOPE Scout Camp wouldn't be a hotbed of thievery!

Posted by
11450 posts

Barbara,, it goes without saying( although you had to say it, LOL) that when one is travelling one should of course always have their passport with them, on their body , not in their suitcase or fanny pack etc.
the original post was about day to day sightseeing while staying in a city.