After all that planning and waiting, you’re finally on that trip of your dreams, far away from your home country. You keep your passport handy during your actual travels because you’ll need it for Customs and other travel-related things. But now you’re getting ready to go out and about as a tourist and you pause for a second…should you bring your passport with you? Or should you leave it somewhere secure in the room?
First, let’s look at the pros and cons of each situation:
If You Bring Your Passport With You
- You have 100% legal government-issued ID with you. Even if you go somewhere that doesn’t accept your driver’s license as ID (read: an occasional bar), a passport is internationally accepted.
- There’s more chance of it being stolen or lost.
If You Leave Your Passport In Your Hotel Room
- Pickpockets can’t get to it.
- It needs to be in a secure place. Don’t leave it in your hotel safe because it’s super easy to break into hotel safes. Don’t lock it in your suitcase either, if your suitcase has a zipper closure – it’s simple to break into those, too. So you better have a SAFE place to keep it, if you’re going to leave it in your room. We have this portable safe and it’s wonderful.
So What Should You Do?
If you’re just there as a tourist, most places recommend not carrying your passport when visiting the sights in a foreign country. Besides being too easy for it to get lost or stolen, it’s also a major pain in the behind to get a new one, and is probably the last thing you want to have to do while on your vacation.
If you decide to not carry your passport with you, DO still carry a copy of it – and a color copy is better than a black & white one. If you’re traveling with another person, make a color copy for him/her to carry as well (and vice versa). You may also want to have a color copy well hidden among your stuff that someone might not want to touch (i.e. dirty clothes), left with a trusted friend or relative back home, and even an online copy in a secure online place (read: cloud) that you can access. Some people keep an electronic copy of it on their phone, which is fine as long as your phone isn’t stolen. Oh, and don’t carry it in your wallet or where you keep your money because those are the things and places pickpockets will go for first.
If you decide to carry your passport anyway, at the very least, make sure it’s in a secure place on your person, such as an inner pocket compartment, not in a handbag, backsack or coat/pants pocket that anyone can reach.
I don’t mean to sound like an alarmist but even in places where you feel like you’re safe (say, a Disney park), you never know when the person next to you will take an opportunity to see your passport sticking out of your bag and grab it when you turn around to look at something. Also don’t have one person to carry “everyone’s” passports, if you can help it…wherever you stash them, if they grab one, they’ll grab them all and then you’re all in trouble. So every adult should carry his/her own.
Valid I.D. In Terms Of Visiting the U.S.A. & Wanting To Buy Alcohol
Each state in the United States has its own laws in regards to what is considered valid I.D. in terms of buying alcohol. But since I know a lot of people from outside the U.S. visit Walt Disney World, here are their rules regarding I.D. (drivers license vs. passport) when it comes to buying alcohol (photo taken at WDW’s Typhoon Lagoon water park):
One More Thing That’s Important To Keep In Mind
Although you should carry some sort of photo ID with you in any foreign country, there are some countries where it’s the law that foreigners must have their passport with them at all times. Japan and Panama are two of those countries, and it appears that if you don’t carry your actual passport in Italy, you really, really, at the very least, should carry a color copy of it (and explain that you’re afraid to carry the original around with you for fear of it being stolen). I know there are other countries with such laws, but please don’t ask me what they are because I have searched and searched and can’t find an actual LIST. Your country’s government entity that has to do with passports would be a good place to ask regarding whether or not you need to carry your passport all the time in the country or countries you plan to visit.
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