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Safety of Multiple Passports

Hi, I have been reading Rick's guide to keep valuables safe. Passports should go in money belts. We are military in Europe which means we have 2 passports each that we must travel with. Then we have our young children's passports as well. What say you for keeping everyone's passports (a total of 10) safe when you can't put them all in your money belt? Thanks!

Posted by
2525 posts

Assuming two adults in your family, consider splitting the passports into two equal sets..one with each adult. Place them in the most secure spot in your day bags, that would be too challenging for pickpockets to enter.

Posted by
5817 posts

The vast majority of people don't travel with a money belt.
How would you carry something of value if you weren't travelling and intending to wear a moneybelt?

Personally I would store them at the bottom of the bag that I am carrying, preferably in an internal zip pocket.
I definitely wouldn't put them in the external pocket of a bag, zip or not.
Make sure the person that carries the bag isn't the kind of scatty person likely to forget/lose it!
The risk from thieves/pickpockets is dreadfully overblown on this site and losing/forgetting a bag is probably more likely than a theft.

Posted by
2298 posts

When I travel with my kids and we need all 4 passports (2 kids, husband, mine) I carry them in an inside zipper pocket in my purse with the pocket safety pinned closed (just pin through the zipper pull onto the fabric). My purse is carried crossbody in front of me and I am careful with it. That is, not leaving it on the back of my chair in restaurants, keeping the top zipper closed, etc. This feels safe enough for me.

So I'd suggest something like that - a secure, zipped pocket in a bag you can be careful with. I carry ours most often because my husband isn't used to carrying a bag - he brings a messenger bag for water and guidebooks but is liable to leave it somewhere because he isn't used to always having a bag. If all adults in your family can remember their stuff then split it up!

Posted by
3442 posts

A neck pouch -- a bag under your shirt -- is easier than a money belt and just as secure. Probably cheaper too.

Posted by
3321 posts

As mentioned above, split them into two equal sets and keep one set with each adult. Where you place them is up to you. Just be certain they are in secure places.

Posted by
7174 posts

"Or leave them in the hotel." - that's the correct answer. Been all over Europe more times than I can count and the only place I ever carried a passport was Moscow.

If it makes you feel better to carry a Passport ID then make a color photocopy of your passports and carry around 10 pieces of paper rather than 10 passports. I've used my photo copy for things like VAT refund and it was gladly accepted. If somebody wants to see your "real" passport then have them accompany you back to your hotel.

Posted by
330 posts

Buy the pacsafe neck wallet. I can fit 4 passports, my wallet, Plus a money clip with extra cash in it. I actually wear around my waist and under my shirt. Kind of like a mini fammy pack

It has a velcro closure and fabric covered adjustable cable so it can be worn around the neck or over the shoulder like a purse or crossbody. I just choose to wear it like a fanny pack. It's small but like I said I can fit all of that in it easily and I keep everything in it so I don't have to have a money belt. It basically is a money belt

Posted by
8 posts

In many places it is actually obligatory to carry a passport or ID. I am not sure what the penalties are if you don't, but I've had my ''papers'' checked enough times that I always do. And yes, it was legit.

Posted by
4691 posts

I've spent 600 days in Western Europe as a tourist, and except for some (longer ago) hotel check-ins, I have NEVER needed my physical passport after leaving the airport. Maybe I was lucky, but maybe some others are easily intimidated by folklore.

Posted by
6412 posts

We are military in Europe which means we have 2 passports

i was in the military in my 20's and they use to give us all kinds of unsolicited advice in the form of info sessions on safety similar to what you are asking the public here; ask them; see what they say?

Posted by
404 posts

I carry a Pacsafe Venturesafe 150 cross body bag. I never take it off outside my hotel room. I lays flat against my body. I forget that I'm actually wearing it. When I enter the subway I swing it around and wear it in front of me. I put 4 passports, cash, credit cards in the inner pocket. Then i use the attached inside key ring to lock the inner pocket.

https://www.amazon.com/Pacsafe-Venturesafe-Anti-Theft-Cross-Black/dp/B00AE0NUD0/ref=sr_1_1?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1508912982&sr=1-1&nodeID=7141123011&psd=1&keywords=venturesafe+150

Posted by
330 posts

I've spent 600 days in Western Europe as a tourist, and except for some (longer ago) hotel check-ins, I have NEVER needed my physical passport after leaving the airport. Maybe I was lucky, but maybe some others are easily intimidated by folklore.

I haven't spent nearly as much time traveling as you but within the last year we were asked to provide our passport at the hotel. That was only once though. Didn't like the idea of it but...what can you do? just roll with it i guess

Posted by
404 posts

Wow. I've had to show my passport at every hotel I have ever stayed at in Europe and Asia. I never thought twice about it.

However, once in Thailand a woman wanted to hang onto my passport when I rented a bicycle. The cost was $2.00 for the day. I gave her my International Student Identity Card (ISIC) which wasn't worth any thing. When I returned the bicycle a few hours later I had to walk around the square to locate her. I found her showing my ID to various people.

Posted by
11970 posts

I don’t use money belts and must carry two passport as well. I use a neck pouch which can be safely hidden under my shirt. Once settled in the hotel, the passport stays in the safe.

Posted by
431 posts

I bought a security pouch from RS, https://store.ricksteves.com/shop/p/security-pouch

Or any small size pouch with a hook to attach to the inside of your bag. I used the Key fob, I have a friend that sewed cords and key rings to the inside of her bag. Just an added deterrent.

Posted by
12104 posts

Those times/trips where I travel with family, all the adults carried their own passports. If the passport is not mine, I don't carry it.. Each adult carried his/her own passport.

Posted by
10846 posts

Put it in the room safe, that way only you, the desk clerk and sometimes the maid has access to it. Oh, and maybe me cause I have a hand full of those safes and some of the keys have been interchangeable. Oh, don't forget to retrieve it before you check out. Seems like 1 in 20 forgets something in the safe.

Or the neck pouch, it's what I use.

Carrying it is law in almost all of Central and Eastern Europe, and I believe Belgium. I've only pulled mine out to buy long term metro passes and once when requested by an armed soldier.

Posted by
4691 posts

I've spent a total of six weeks in Belgium, and I've never (except at hotel checkin) been asked for my passport. And I never carry it. The times I've asked for a Senior museum discount my photocopy worked fine, although I wouldn't have been upset if they had refused a copy.

As noted, the OP question was about travel between locations. I have to note that the one time I came close to losing my wallet to a pickpocket, it was in a zippered external pouch closed with a safety pin through the zipper pull. That was apparently a trivial obstacle to the juvenile pickpocket. (Luckily for me, a shopkeeper standing outside his store cuffed the kid, and he dropped my wallet on the pavement.) But I agree that pickpocketing is blown all out of proportion on this board, despite (for example) the exploding drug addict crime problems in the U.S.

Posted by
404 posts

We were pickpocketed twice in Italy. On our first day out near the Tower of Pisa some women tried to stop us. They had clipboards blah blah blah. I kept walking but my husband didn't want to be rude even though I had fully covered the various scams we might encounter. After going a few feet I walked back and grabbed him away. A few minutes later he realized that his Pacsafe sling bag was completely unzipped. But they didn't get anything as everything of value was in a inner locked pocket. He hadn't locked the outside zipper.

Second time was on a train platform after we had spent the day in Cinque Terra. We were walking along the platform and a man stuck his hand in my husband's cargo shorts pocket. He thought he was grabbing a fat wallet. However what he really grabbed was a water bottle. It was so weird. They were walking side by side with the man's hand stuck in my husband's pocket. My husband was staring at him and just looked straight ahead like nothing was going on.

People DO get pickpocketed.

Posted by
10846 posts

jehb2, i've known or met people who have been picked in Prague and Vienna too. Yup, it happens. Oh, and i forgot. I was hit twice in Paris (both unsuccessful)

Posted by
12104 posts

At the WW1 Museum in Meaux, east of Paris, last June, I had already paid for the entry ticket, then realised upon looking at the price list, that I qualified for the senior price. The transaction had already gone through. I said to the ticket woman, "Madame, je suis senior."

At first It looked as if she did not believe me, so I let her see my passport. I got the senior ticket. It helps to have the passport with you for such contingencies.

Posted by
7649 posts

The comment about the hotel safes is ridiculous. Raise your hand if you have ever had something stolen from your hotel safe. Not that you read it somewhere, or heard about it, etc. Did you, yourself have something stolen? Because having spent years on this forum, have never had anyone admit this has happened to them. Yet, the scaremongering goes on.

Having read 100's of hotel reviews on Trip Advisor, Booking.com, etc. I have yet to read a single review where this has happened. I wonder why? Maybe because it doesn't?

Posted by
10846 posts

I guess it does happen (see below). But I would bet its pretty rare. Safer than a wallet in a back pocket for sure. I did think it curious that my hotel safe key fit two safes purchased at different times. I avoid them because I am certain I would forget that I put something in it. Oh, and I once saw a safe bolted to a removable shelf in the closet, so at least make sure someone cant just pick up the safe and walk away with it. I don’t travel with a lot of valuables so the neck pouch works fine and I don’t have worry about forgetting something. Then again, there was a woman here who had her bra pocket picked …. Guess there is no perfect solution.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g297476-i4451-k8477805-Robbed_from_the_hotel_safe-Cartagena_Cartagena_District_Bolivar_Department.html

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g150776-d226300-r70235802-Tijuana_Marriott_Hotel-Tijuana_Baja_California.html

https://www.thesun.co.uk/living/1539954/going-on-holiday-man-reveals-why-you-should-never-trust-your-hotel-room-safe/

http://bobarno.com/thiefhunters/hotel-room-safe-thefts/

Posted by
404 posts

I have never had anything stolen from my hotel room. BUT numerous times in the US I have had housekeeping leave my door completely open. The Manhatten Club in New York was really bad about that. I complained profusely to management but they blew me off.

And I have written in great detail about this experience on TripAdvisor. The Manhattan Club had my post removed because they said I was a member and thus not eligible to post a review. I am not a member and made TripAdvisor reinstate my review.

Posted by
1217 posts

Some hotels require that room doors be left open during cleaning in the name of safety for employees. (No hotel general manager wants a repeat of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn incident).

Posted by
404 posts

The housekeepers at the Manhattan Club would leave my room door open after they had completely finished and were long gone. It kept happening. Not just to me but I have seen the same complaint. I told management numerous times. Finally I would wait in the business office while they cleaned my room. After half an hour I would go back downstairs to make sure my door was closed and locked. Sometimes it was and sometimes it wasn't.

Last trip I left the "do not disturb" sign on my door during my whole stay. Each morning I did allow housekeeping to enter my room and change my towels and I tipped her each time. However after a couple of days security knocked on my door. Hotel policy--they inspect your room if you decline housekeeping for several days.