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passport storage

The first time I went to Europe, passports were collected and held by the hotel while one stayed there. But then, traveler's checks were mandatory, unmarried couples could not check into a hotel together, and the journey could, in fact, be done on $5 a day. Long ago...

These days, what do you recommend: carrying your passport with you at all times, or leaving it in the hotel? Which is safest?

Posted by
10344 posts

Rick Steves recommends carrying it with you, when you're out, in a properly worn money-belt. I do that.
Not everyone here agrees with that.

Posted by
5923 posts

legally, in most countries, you are supposed to carry ID at all times. Some countries it actually needs to be a passport, some will accept a paper copy, and I believe a few will take a driver's license. I always carry my driver's license because there is no way I'm leaving my passport for an audio guide. Lately, I'm running into more situations in which I need a passport, like verification at the Alhambra and with my Swiss Travel Pass in Switzerland. Even though most often legally required, if I'm checked into a hotel and I have no perceived need for a passport during the day, I leave it in a safe spot in my room. I don't want to carry it with me. It's just one more thing to think/worry about. Except in transit between cities/hotels, I don't use a money belt. If I'm driving a rental car, I'll have my passport with me along with my IDP and driver's license.

I think the important thing to remember, is that everyone should know the laws of the land where they are traveling as well as common practices. Evaluate your own situation and risk and make your own decision. I'm a white woman traveling with my husband and we are in our 50s, we don't look interesting. If I was younger or a minority, I might be more likely to carry it.

Posted by
7980 posts

You should carry it like your wallet with you in a secure place meaning not in a bag or pockets that you would not notice someone trying to steal it.

Posted by
1625 posts

You should always have ID on you, be it a passport, drivers license or ID card. While in transit I have it readily available in my purse. For my day to day sightseeing I only carry a copy and I always carry my drivers license, as someone mentioned I am more comfortable giving that to secure an audio guide than my passport. There have been times when I have had a very strong feeling that I should have my passport while site seeing and other times not so much, no rhyme or reason just a gut feeling that I always listen to.

Posted by
3521 posts

Carry your passport. Some countries in Europe actually require you have it on you at all times. Put it in a money belt/neck wallet/hidden pocket so it is not easily gotten to. Although I don't like to think about negatives, if something happens and you can't get back to your hotel and have an urgent need to leave, having your passport with you makes your options more varied.

When you are asked for identification in Europe, the only thing that works is your actual passport. Your driver license or other picture ID means nothing. You can sometimes use other ID to give as collateral for museum audio guides and other similar purposes.

Posted by
5923 posts

Each country is different in terms of what they require for ID and what they will accept. Yes, the majority want the actual passport, but that is not the case for every country.

Posted by
139 posts

I always carry my passport with me, on my deep storage. I've never been asked for it but I still carry it with me.

Posted by
8995 posts

I leave my passport in the hotel safe unless I am traveling over borders.
If only traveling in Germany, I leave it at home. I do have an extra ID card that says I have permanent residency in Germany but don't need to use it very often. If you are driving here, you should always have it with you.
When walking the Camino, my passport is either in my money belt (at night & in big cities) or in my belly bag.

Posted by
7649 posts

As mentioned, always have some type of ID.

As for my passport, Always will have it if I am crossing borders or taking a train/car out of town; Usually will have it if I am to be out on the town all day, depending on activities, and if I am just popping down the street to a restaurant or cafe, then it is probably in my room.

Another consideration is that some places require showing your ID, in this case a passport, not DL, for entry to sights or to pick-up/use e-tickets. Sights in Spain are most mentioned, but assume other places do as well.

Posted by
453 posts

Sarah Murdoch (a Rick Steves' tour guide) recently had a Q&A video based on questions left on her Facebook page. I asked this same question about whether to carry a passport with you and she answered that she always has it on her, since it is required in many countries.

Posted by
1209 posts

I always carry my passport with me, in deep storage. As I often travel solo - though also sometimes with a friend - if there were any kind of emergency, I want my passport with me. Think: medical emergency, or political emergency wherever I might be... At least I would have my passport and could get home to the US, if I couldn't get back to my hotel.

Posted by
2145 posts

Hi Monty, keep your passport in your money belt. Wear it and don't think about it.

Posted by
346 posts

It makes me nervous to not have it, so I always have it. I carry a Pacsafe purse, so I keep it in there (along with DH's). I have carried it in a money belt and that worked well, too. The only time I didn't carry it was in Greece when we went to the beach. I left it in the hotel safe.

Posted by
22 posts

I always carry my passport on my body in a moneybelt around my waist. My husband has one that attaches to his belt then goes inside his pants. I do not trust hotel safes...someone has a key or access to it even if you think they don't.