Traveling with 4 children - question

I know that I need to keep my passport/papers with me at all times, but those of you who travel with kids, do you keep theirs with you as well? And what is the safest place to keep them? I've use the neck pouch, and I think 5 passports would get pretty heavy and bulky. Ideas, please! Thanks!

Posted by Rick
Chicago, IL, USA
473 posts

We almost never take our passports with us. I've never heard that you need to have it with you at all times. I'm not saying that it's not true, just that I've never heard of it. We leave our passports in the room safe or in a locked suitcase in the hotel room if a safe is not available. One alternative to carrying the passports everywhere would be to make a photocopy of the front page and carry those. It's a good idea to have such a photocopy anyways, if your passport is lost/stolen. It makes getting a replacement MUCH easier.

Posted by Karen
Colorado Springs
328 posts

It does depend on where you are. In western Europe you are probably fine with copies, eastern Europe (and Russia) have stricter rules. Unless I am going to the beach or the pool, I usually take mine (but I don't have others to carry). In general, I think I'd just take the copies if you know your passports are safe where you leave them.

Posted by Erik
Chandler, AZ, USA
112 posts

I believe you are technically required to have passport on you at all times in most if not all countries. I was asked by an officer in Berlin to show mine when I was reporting a street crime I had just witnessed. Though if I didn't have it on me, I doubt I would have had any issue explaining it was back at my room. It's definitely a bigger issue if you are in a place like Caracas, loaded with corrupt police looking to "fine" tourists for absurd things. But then if you took a group of children there, I'd say you're crazy!

So I would go with the photocopy recommendation, and carry your own passport. I suspect you are going to western European countries, or at least all EU nations and I would bet you'll never have a major issue that way.

Posted by Andreas
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
2701 posts

Just to make one thing clear: In many European countries incl. Germany you do need to be able to ID yourself at any time. But that doesn't necessarily have to be your passport. It can be a drivers' licence, the fact that you carry two credit cards with the same name on them etc. You're not obliged to carry your passport with you all the time. I prefer to keep them in save places in the hotel...

Posted by Linda
Portland, OR, USA
389 posts

Andreas lives there so knows best. I've traveled multiple times with kids (it really was fun) and kept the passports on me, but I have never been asked in 14 countries including Hungary & Croatia. I do however recommend a certified letter if you are traveling as a single parent. There could be delays because the second parent isn't there, regardless of reason. From "Minors not accompanied by a parent or traveling with only one parent need notarized written parental consent from the absent parent(s)" Enjoy!

Posted by DD
104 posts

Keep copies with you of the picture page of each.

I've been stopped, I've changed money,made a large purchase where I've needed an I.D.

I've never had the hard copy so to speak on me and never ever been a problem.

To each his own but why not leave these in the hotel safe - same as plane tickets unless you changing something about them - there really is no need to be toting them on you.

Posted by Chuck
Holdrege, NE, USA
91 posts

Here's another good tip. When going thru airports/passport checks, you should hold all passports and tell the security person that you are all together. We do this with 4 adults too.

While in line we hand our passports to one person in our group who then leads the way to the counter and is our group's spokesperson. This can speed up the checking process and eliminate repetitive questions for your group. This also speeds the line for those waiting in line behind you. Happy Travels.

Posted by Helen
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
705 posts

I never carry my passport with me. I travel to Italy every year for work and have always left it in my room safe. I have never been asked for it. Having read the recommendation to carry a photocopy though is a good idea. The only time I have been asked for it was when I went to the Australian Trade Commission in New York for an appointment and by an absolute fluke I had it on me otherwise I would not have been allowed through the lobby.

Posted by Kate
505 posts

The only exception in Western Europe is Switzerland, where the police can stop you on the street and ask to see your passport. I've never heard of it happening, but we kept our passport with us at all times when we were in Geneva and Zurich.
Otherwise, you're probably fine leaving them behind. I've never bothered with the safe - I usually just make sure it's well out of sight in a beg.
These days with added security, unless you are traveling on a group visa, each adult should go approach a passport check separately. Normally I've found that they will only let one person - other than a parent with kids - proceed forward at a time. They need to look at & swipe each passport separately so it's easier if only the person on that passport is in front of them.

Posted by Liz
Denver, CO, USA
75 posts

We have lived in europe several times and travel there with children all the time. My compromise is to take photocopies of the childrens passports w/me in case we go to a sight (my boys love military stuff) that requires it, and my drivers license. I leave all passports in the safe, unless we are crossing border/changing hotel. More important is the letter that each spouse carries saying that the other spouse approves of the children traveling/crossing borders with you. Whenever there is any ugly custody battle in the news, the police can get extra vigilent. Especially if one is tired and crying - they think maybe you are kidnapping instead of depriving them of a chocolate bar (lol). Have fun, the more trips you take w/kids, the better they get at travel.

Posted by Karen
800 posts

I am the designated carrier of all things important - passports, map, guidebook, water bottle - for my family of 4. I even carry my husband's passport while he carries the camera on his belt. I don't mind carrying these items as I am the one who navigates with the maps, etc. anyway. I use a regular store-bought purse with lots of pockets and zippers. I have the passports, extra credit cards, extra cash in a lightweight zippered pencil pouch that is actually twist-tied to an inside loop in my purse. Women in Europe carry purses all the time - using some big city common sense (purse in front, hand on top, being aware while using public transport) helped thwart the 1 time I had a pickpocket attempt. When my teen daughter went to Europe on her own I did ask that she wear a money belt when sleeping on a train and when traveling with her luggage in Rome. Also, if I were a man I would think your only option to carry your passport would, indeed, be a money belt.

Posted by Erik
Chandler, AZ, USA
112 posts

I hate moneybelts. One extra item to get in my way. Cargo pants with zippered pockets work wonders. Or better yet, stitch a hidden pocket on the inside of trousers. You can use a small pocket for cash and cards if you lock your passport in the hotel. But a larger pocket big enough for a passport never causes me any problem with mobility, and I never have a problem with excess moisture ruining pocket contents.