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Passport - Carry at all times?

Taking my family on Best of Europe 14 day tour this week - first time for all of us to Europe. I have photocopied our passports but do not know if we carry our original with us at all times or leave it in the hotel room and carry the photocopy? Also - do I let my 13 and 15 year old boys carry their own passport in their money belt or do I carry them?

Thanks!
Amy

Posted by
5 posts

Once we check into a hotel, we put the passports in the safe in the room, and leave them there. Of course when necessary, we carry them with us. In my family, each family member carries his or her passport when it's necessary to have them.

Posted by
3551 posts

Always have a back up copy of your passports available when u travel.

Posted by
5251 posts

Yes, you should have a backup copy. My wife and I each carry a copy of each other's passports. I carry my own in a neck wallet, along with most money and cards, because it's easy so why not. A few years ago we were passing by a synagogue in Athens and wanted to go inside. A policeman guarding the entrance (sad to think that was needed) wanted to see our passports and wasn't satisified with my wife's photocopy. We hadn't expected to need them that day. You never know when you might need your actual passport.

But it's a perennial discussion in this forum. The flip side is the security of the hotel room, especially a safe, vs. on your person. I feel my neck wallet is safe enough to carry anything. If I were more casual about pockets and such I might leave the passport behind.

Posted by
1198 posts

Check if you need passports for the kids to verify their ages for anything. Because you're on a tour, you likely dont need them for this (entrance to all the things will have been taken care of), but we bring our kids' passports when we will need to verify their ages to get free admittance to attractions. Otherwise we leave them all in our lodging

Posted by
1491 posts

If you want to visit public buildings which are under high security status you need to show an official photo identification, e.g. passport for visiting the Reichstag building in Berlin.

Posted by
12880 posts

Only within the last ten years or so did I carry a copy of the passport in the luggage since the passport itself was on me. Before that I had only the passport. I never put the passport in the room safe , assuming it has one, There have been rooms in small hotels l or Pensionen in Germany where a safe was not part of the features.

Now the passport stays on me almost exclusively and most definitely on a r/t day trip using the train.

Posted by
21709 posts

A copy of a passport is of no value other than to prove that you once had a passport. A copy can just as easy be fraudulent so it's value as an ID is only as good as someone is willing to accept. I always carried the boys passport because I would know where they were. We personally carry our passport always. Our the 20+ years of travel on two occasions we were damn glad we had them with us. In the US we just don't have the experience or tradition of carrying id but it is often expected in Europe and in some countries it is required. It is not a big deal to carry your passport.

Posted by
9682 posts

Ooooh, have a wonderful time! I am in the "carry with you at all times" camp, and yes, I'd carry the boys' passports in my money belt as well. You can also talk with your guide at the first meet-up and get their take on it and whether the kids will need ID for any group things.

Since the 14 Day Best of Europe doesn't go to Berlin, no problem there on gaining entry to buildings.

The only time I don't wear it on tour is when it's a bus day. I have it in my money belt and put in my day bag which I leave on the bus.

Posted by
168 posts

Don't know why no one has mentioned this, but you are legally required to carry your passport in Italy.

Posted by
3340 posts

We always carry our own passports hidden away in either a RS moneybelt, neck wallet, or hidden pocket. We have photocopies tucked away at hotel in luggage. Have a great family trip!

Posted by
5617 posts

As a couple, we carry copies of each other’s passports, but keep Passports themselves in our moneybelt or neck wallet pouch. Passports go only one place, so you never have to move them or wonder if you left them in any other place.

A parent may want to carry the boys’ passports, especially if they’re not securing a money belt on themselves, but it could be a good travel experience to get them doing things the way that ensures they and their documents and money are secure and available when needed.

Posted by
31467 posts

listen,

I would strongly recommend carrying your Passport with you at all times, and leave the copies in your hotel room. It's the only "official" form of ID that's accepted. If you're going to carry the Passport in your Money Belt, it's a good idea to place it in a zip-lok bag to prevent it from getting damp from perspiration.

Posted by
5535 posts

I always leave my passport at my accommodation unless I know that I will need it for entry into somewhere such as a Parliament building for a tour. I have photocopies and a photo of the vital pages on my phone.

Do you wear a money belt and neck wallet at home? I don’t, which is why I don’t wear them on holiday in Europe. I have never had a problem anywhere, so long as you are sensible. Yes, I have used them when in Africa and some places in South America. I would keep all your passports together, as your boys aren’t likely to be going anywhere unaccompanied where they would need to show ID.

Posted by
2982 posts

carrying id but it is often expected in Europe and in some countries it is required.

Yes, people carry their national ID - our equivalent is a driver's license.

It may be legally required to carry a passport in some countries, but I do not. The one time I decided, on the basis of advice on this very forum, to carry our passports on our person (interior of a messenger bag) on a weekend trip to France, they were pickpocketed.

I'm telling you guys, I have lived and traveled in Europe for 8 years straight, and have never needed my passport for anything other than crossing borders/checking into hotels and one or two other times involving security, like going into a synagogue (that I had to call ahead to register to enter anyway, which is why I knew to bring my passport).

I would much rather leave it at home/in a hotel safe where I KNOW it's safe than worry about carrying it with me. They're just too much of a hassle to replace. I don't even carry a physical copy on me, but a picture on my phone. When museums have wanted a passport for a deposit, they have always been satisfied with my CA driver's license or military ID.

People can do what they feel is best, but the idea that it's necessary to carry it on you at all times is laughable. I'm going out to a festival later, am I bringing my passport? No, it's part of my every day life. If for some reason a German police asks to see it, they can accompany me to my home where I will show it to them. This has never happened to any of the the many foreigners I know who live here, BTW.

Posted by
1649 posts

Hi Amy,

I carry my passport on me at all times. I consider it to be my lifeline.

(My hotel room had a nice safe, but I didn't use it.)

In case of an extreme emergency or evacuation, I have peace of mind to know I have my original PP, money/euro, and my credit card.

My last two International trips, l traveled by myself. What l also include in my PP is an index card or two with some basic medical info - blood type, any meds or OTC's, vitamins I may be taking, any allergy l may have, any surgery l may have had, my USA doctor's name and phone number, and family contacts.

In the event l am unable to communicate, l want emergency personnel and/or doctors to know what they're dealing with so they can treat me quickly.

I keep the index cards in the back of my PP.

l carried a Hedgren durable, small cross body with my PP, credit cards, euro, phone. That never left my body.

(My first trip, I tried a money belt. Didn't care for it. If l was to travel in between countries or a questionable area or transport, then I would use it. I stayed in Rome for two weeks each trip, so it was easier. I walked all over Rome's city centre and then some - it was fine. I stayed in a lovely hotel in the Termini neighborhood; no issues.)

I used my 14" Kipling purse/tote for everything else - to carry bottled water, other miscellaneous things, small packages while out and about in Rome.

Also, a key point is organization. I've always been organized - put your valuables, etc. back in the same place you took them out of. This minimizes any fumbling or nervousness and greatly reduces loss or misplacement of goods.

Have fun.

Posted by
2908 posts

I usually just carry mine in my purse. When traveling solo it might be in a moneybelt, depending on the situation. I don't leave my house at home with out an ID so why would I do it internationally? Otherwise, if something happens, no one knows who I am. Moneybelts aren't so important as just having a system and sticking to it. IMO

Posted by
11450 posts

Ours stay in hotel safe .

I bring my DL which has always been accepted as collateral for audio guides ( for instance at Louvre and Orsay ) as the one time I left it at Louvre I was not happy to see it put in an open box on the counter near worker .

When I took my children they brought school I’d card to prove age at attractions - never had a single issue with that .

Very happy my passport was in hotel safe when my entire purse was taken a few years ago ( long story ) .

I took my daughter on a Rs Family Europe tour - on transition days I carried passports in money belt .

Posted by
11450 posts

And my 11 yr old carried her own spending money - she didn’t have that much - maybe 59 euros total ( money she had earned and saved herself ) !
When I took my 13 yr old son ( we didn’t take tour ) I also let him carry his own money but told him to leave bulk of his money on hotel safe ( he had more money than 11 yr old did )

I always am in charge of passports - they are a lot harder to replace than money !

Posted by
7685 posts

I also have scans of our passports on my phone and also send them to a family member before leaving the US.
I keep them in the hotel safe or lock them in my luggage if hotel doesn’t have a room safe.

Posted by
2263 posts

Strongly recommend CARRY PASSPORT AT ALL TIMES.

Also keep the passports for the children with the adults.

There are a number of examples of posts on RS fora recently where people ran into problems by not carrying the passport. In one case, the poster had purchased a 7 day transit pass in Budapest, but were fined $80 for not having the passport to document that the transit pass was being used appropriately.

Posted by
3259 posts

For a variety of reasons we always have our passports with us, in our neck pouches. Your teens should be old enough to carry theirs in a similar fashion, once they've had the importance of keeping them secure drilled into their heads. I would never dream of carrying them in a purse or backpack, which are vulnerable to theft.

Especially when you are on a tour and are always on the go, better to be in the habit of always having them in the same place, than running the risk of leaving them behind.

Posted by
12880 posts

Now, more than not, when out and about in Germany and Austria, I carry the passport on me. To be sure, if you're doing a day trip that involves crossing a border, eg, from Germany to Holland, as I did in May 2018 from Düsseldorf, I had the passport on my person...never had to show but still.

In the summer trip of 2017, I was asked to show the passport...surprisingly, when coming back on a day trip from Austria, the Bavarian police got on the train and asked in German, also very surprisingly, if I had the passport (Haben Sie einen Reisepaß dabei?" ) I was a taken aback by this and as I was trying to get it out of my zipped up inside jacket pocket, I asked them why (Warum denn ?), which should have been obvious.

They were looking for the stamped entry into Schengen, which was Paris.

Posted by
4684 posts

I agree with everything Sarah says. I never carry my passport with me. I’m constantly traveling/living in Europe for 12 years and haven’t been asked to produce anything ever. This “what if” thinking is very overblown. My passport is much safer in my hotel room or at my rental house. Heaven know, my kids definitely are not carrying their own passports. This is Europe, not a developing country.

Posted by
2908 posts

I think it is different if you live in Europe as compared to being a tourist. Of course you wouldn’t carry it with you when it is your home. When I use to visit my daughter’s home in the U.K. I left my passport at her house. But then I had a “gang”, so to speak. However, {Edit: now that she no longer lives abroad}when I am traveling solo or with my husband, I want it with me so I can change my plans at a moment’s notice. It is the risk manager in me.

Posted by
80 posts

I only have my passport on me when im headed to an airport or on travel days and that would be around my neck.
I have only been asked for my passport at the airport and when checking into hotels/Airbnb in certain countries. so far never been asked for it at an attraction or travel passes

I leave it in my room , hidden in my PacSafe bag and securely chained up .
I have a copy of my passport and my dl on me , also emailed copied of my passport and dl on my phone

if I was travelling with kids who are young , I would carry their passports but again only on transit days

Posted by
950 posts

Usually our passports are in the hotel. I might take it with me occasionally but I have no idea why. But I don't use a money belt really either. I mean I own one and it's usually in the safe at the hotel with my passport.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks Everyone! Nice to see the general consensus :)
I will go with my gut when we get there.
Safe travels!
-Amy

Posted by
2982 posts

Of course you wouldn’t, carry it with you when it is your home.

Well, I mean, I'm not a citizen, and my version of a visa (Status of Forces Agreement) is in my passport, so technically if the police want to see some sort of EU identity document on me, I'm in the same boat as a tourist without their passport on them.

However, when I am solo or with my husband, I want it with me so I can change my plans at a moment’s notice. It is the risk manager in me.

I fail to see the difference? I take my passport from my hotel/house in situations where I know I'll need it. Situations where I'm not aware that I will need it that prevents me from doing something have never, ever come up in 8 years and at least 24 trips in Europe.

The point someone made about the guy getting fined in Budapest would be a situation where I'd be aware I needed it. I take my passport with me when traveling by Railpass in Germany, even though I'm not leaving the country, because A) I know that the passport is required to be shown with the Railpass to prove it's validity and B) Passports are usually needed when checking into hotels. But there is nearly no risk to leaving it in a hotel safe, and there is significant risk to taking it with me, from my purse being snatched to being pickpocketed without my knowledge to just forgetting my purse somewhere.

I lost being able to go on a weekend trip to Barcelona due to having our passports stolen (we actually had talked our way into being allowed to board with our military IDs, but we were afraid we wouldn't be able to get on our return flight), and then had 8 days to replace passports before our first trip back home in 3 years. The hassle, cost, and stress of having to miss one trip and nearly miss another big trip due to getting a passport replaced last-minute is not something I want to repeat. I know that one doesn't necessarily have to get a full replacement if a passport is lost or stolen while on a trip, but I still don't want to take a day (or more) from a trip to be on the phone/travel to a consulate/get to the airport(s) early to factor in traveling with temporary documents.

People should do what makes them comfortable, but if you carry your passport with you, I highly suggest using a moneybelt or neck pouch, because those are the only really secure ways to carry them. I don't like using those, so it stays in the hotel.

Posted by
523 posts

Thanks Everyone! Nice to see the general consensus :)
I will go with my gut when we get there.
Safe travels!

Whatever you are comfortable and secure with; should be how you handle it! Everyone on this forum has their own way of handling this issue.

Posted by
11805 posts

This topic gets beaten to death.

Pros - Without your passport you have no valid ID. It's not only proof of your identity but it's proof you are in the country legally (passport stamp). A copy doesn't count for anything nor does your home driver's license.

Cons - Rick Steves' readers aren't typically a problem for local authorities. If they ask and you left it in your hotel, they'd probably go with you to get it rather than throw you in jail. Losing your passport is a major inconvenience (not an insurmountable problem). If you aren't wearing some kind of hidden wallet under your clothes, it's risky carrying your passport.

I keep mine with me in my neck wallet but most people survive their trip just fine going either way.

A backup copy is a good thing to have if you have to have your passport replaced while on your trip.

Posted by
12880 posts

"Whatever you are comfortable and secure with...." True! That's why I don't leave the passport in the hotel. No longer an option. I don't use the room safe, assuming there is one in the first place. There have been small hotels and Pensionen in Germany where the room amenities did not include a safe.

Now, I carry the passport with me, regardless if I need it or not out and about, within the city or doing a day trip by train.

In 2014 I did a day trip to Amsterdam from Frankfurt, had not been in Holland since 1971. Once the train was over the border, the Dutch (there were 2, a woman and her male colleague) came aboard dressed not in uniform but civilian clothes with their ID hanging from their belt and started everyone on the coach for the passport.

What a coincidence? After 43 years I was asked (in English) to show the passport just as I was on the train crossing from Germany to Holland in 1971.

This time I basically ignored the guy, handed the passport to him without saying anything. All very perfunctory. Certain people I noticed they "quizzed" a lot, all in English , asking for their visa too in addition to the passport.

Posted by
440 posts

Brad: "Pros - Without your passport you have no valid ID. It's not only proof of your identity but it's proof you are in the country legally (passport stamp)."

No, not true in the UK for US passport holders that have gone after 20 May and used E Gates - I have no stamp in or out of the country for my time there (I'm sure it exists in the chip, and definitely in the UK's database, but it's unlikely that the London PD would be able to access thsi information , at least immediately, to confirm my legal status).