Carry Passport or Leave in Hotel?

Thoughts on carrying your passport with you everywhere you go during the day? Or leave it behind in the hotel with a photocopy on your person (or vice versa)? I see pros and cons to both, and haven't traveled internationally in about 7 years so I'm a little rusty. Thanks!

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
6706 posts

My wife and I leave it behind. I have two (US and Italian) but I leave both in the hotel safe and I've never bothered to even carry the photocopies either. I carry with me my California DL as ID. Last year the City of Florence gave me an Italian Identity card. As an Italian residing abroad and registered as such with the City of Florence (my last place of residence in Italy) I'm entitled to one. Good! It's small and I'll carry that one. You'll probably need to have the passport with you if you drive. I'm not sure the Carabinieri or Polizia will accept just your US Drivers' License and International Driver Permit as ID, in case you get pulled over. But what is the worst thing that could happen to an American stopped by the Italian police? Probably nothing. .....Oh........ wait! Your name is Amanda. Is your last name Knox by any chance?

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
4235 posts

If you use the search box above and type in 'carry passport leave in room', you'll get more responses than you want. I always carry mine in my moneybelt; that way, I always know where it is. No one is going to take it from my room (don't think a locked suitcase is a huge deterrent), I'm not going to leave it behind in the hotel safe when I leave town (nor will any hotel employees steal it), and I've needed it on several occasions while out-and-about so it was nice to have it on me. While your hotel room is being cleaned, it is typically wide open (as are all other rooms on that floor); I've had plenty of opportunity to completely clean out more rooms than I can count. Anything that will bring my trip to a screeching halt goes into my moneybelt.

Posted by Charlie
Honolulu/Seattle, HI/WA, USA
2313 posts

I have gone to Europe every summer for the last 10 years (soon to be 11) and I have never left my passport anywhere but in my money belt. A lot of places we stay ask for our passports when checking in and then return them to us in a very short time. I believe that deals with a local law. If I were to leave it in the hotel/B&B and something would happen to it, I would be in deep trouble trying to get another one and using up valuable vacation time to get another one. I put my passport into a zip-lock bag to keep it dry inside my money belt. Happy Travels

Posted by Rose
922 posts

I'm just very hassle averse. If I lost part of my holiday dealing with replacing a lost or stoken Passport I would be in a snit. So, I carry it in my moneybelt under my clothing and that's that, then. Worry free.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
14100 posts

It is a discussion that never ends. Some leave it in the hotel and some don't. I like having it on me because it proves I am legally in the country. It is type one vs type two error. Is it better to have it and not need it or need it and not have it. Your call.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
24160 posts

Amanda, I prefer to keep my Passport with me at all times, usually stored in my MoneyBelt if it's not needed for hotel check-in. If it were ever lost or stolen, that would be a major inconvenience to my holiday as I'd have to travel to where ever the nearest Canadian Embassy was located. That could also mean I'd be paying for pre-booked hotel rooms that I couldn't use, missing Europe budget flights, etc. I recall reading somewhere that travellers must carry their Passports with them, as they may be asked to produce it for law enforcement. Unfortunately, I can't remember where I read that. Cheers!

Posted by Becky
Seattle, WA, USA
183 posts

We didn't carry ours and never had a need for it. Whenever we had to have an ID to verify our identity (just for online tickets), our US licenses worked. Only hotels asked for our passports. We didn't carry money belts, just the over-the-shoulder messenger bag from Rick Steves (with a clip to further secure the zipped pocket) and didn't have any issues.

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1759 posts

We always carry our passports. Needing them has nothing to do with the dicision. I carry mine in the inside zipper pocket of my travel pants along with my wallet. My wife carries her's inside her opera wallet inside her cross body bag. Passports are the one thing that proves you are a citizen of whatever country you are from.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
8186 posts

I carry mine. It's your only valid ID AND shows you are in the country legally. That said, it's true that an American tourist is treated better than, say, a North African - who may have problems if they can't produce a passport with a valid stamp from immigration. The average middle-class American tourist is very unlikely to run into trouble for not having their passport with them.

Posted by Ron
Cesena, Italy
791 posts

I would suggest having it on you if you plan on any driving. Italian authorities do random traffic stops. I was stopped 3 times and asked for it every time. Just out walking nobody ever asked for it.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

Once, just once, get yourself in a situation where you develop an acute case of the haul-ass (Auntie Emma is dying, Cairo came unglued) and the airport is closer than the hotel (or the hotel is unreachable) and you won't turn loose of the sucker again, ever. My only exceptions are when I'm in the far beyonds without a zipper pocket or without a ziplock when I know I'm going to get wet and muddy. Then it gets left (unguarded) in the camp or car. Leave it in the hotel one day, but take it with you another because you might need it, and you've got a broken habit pattern. Guess where it's going to be sometime when you're already a hundred miles down the road?

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
4235 posts

"Leave it in the hotel one day, but take it with you another because you might need it, and you've got a broken habit pattern. Guess where it's going to be sometime when you're already a hundred miles down the road?" BOOM!!! Routines! Wear it, and forget about it. Just because some haven't needed to show theirs yet doesn't mean they shouldn't have needed to (lax security, museum ticket booth agent accepted a USA DL when required to ask for a passport, etc.). In my years, I've driven with a BAC over the limit, eaten a few grapes before my produce was weighed at the register, gotten though TSA checkpoints with contraband (inadvertantly) - any of those times I could have (might say should have - gotten in some real (but varying degrees of) trouble. But I didn't. I won't advise that anyone else do any of those things, based on my prior experiences. Just wear the moneybelt and bring the passport. C'est fini.

Posted by Rose
922 posts

When in the U.S. I wouldn't go anywhere without my government-issued Drivers License in my wallet because it's the nĂºmero uno recognized and accepted form of I.D. Likewise, when out of the U.S. the Passport is the #1 recognized and accepted form of I.D., so it's always with me. When you boil it down, the fundamentals aren't that different being here or there - only different on the face of it.