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Travelling with a passport
Old 08-08-2010, 11:30 AM   #1
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Travelling with a passport

This is something that you should always do, especially if you are travelling international. But my question is, do you always carry your passport with you when travelling in another country or do you leave it in a 'safe' place (hotel room safe, family, etc)?

Lancelot's response from the other passport thread triggered this question for me:
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PS-I just applied for a passport renewal at the US Embassy in Bangkok on Aug 6. $110 and should be able to pick it up in two weeks. They let you keep your old pass port, good idea since under Thai law, aliens are required to carry their passport at all times (but 99% of expats carry a photo copy of the new page.)
It's something that I've thought about in the past. When we visit family internationally, we never carry our passport with us and leave it at their place. I carry my US driver's license with a AAA international driver permit - since I'm usually driving and it's required (plus, it's in my wallet). I have been pulled over and didn't have any issues, but it probably helps that I speak the language.

When we are out and about and staying in hotels, it's hit and miss. I never carry all of our passports, but I carry at least one or some other type of ID. I've never had any issues, but I imagine that I could if I'm in a foreign country, asked for my passport, and I don't happen to have it on me.

Lancelot, if you are reading this thread, how well does carrying a photo copy work? I imagine fairly well if most expats are doing it, but are you aware of anyone that's had any issues?
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Old 08-08-2010, 01:54 PM   #2
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I don't carry my passport with me at all times. For example, I don't think it would be very safe at the beach. If my hotel room has a safe, I use it, or if not, I use the hotel's safety desposit box. If I am staying with friends, I lock it in my suitcase. I also bring at least one copy of my passport. This can be a photocopy, which I keep apart from the passport. I also have a scanned colour PDF of my passport on a jump drive. I also carry my Canadian citizenship card in my wallet. If I am going to an unfamiliar country, I bring a list of all the consulates and embassies I might need.
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Old 08-08-2010, 02:29 PM   #3
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In most countries you can just carry a copy (independent of what their law actually says -- even federal USA law says immigrants to the USA must carry passport or permanent resident card at all times).

That does not apply if you are out of town, especially in countries with checkpoints. You get bonus points if you also copy your entry stamp. So if I am going on a bus trip to another town for a day or two, in most countries I will take my passport.

There are a few exceptions in countries that severely enforce their rules. Russia is one example, you need to carry your passport everywhere there -- they are very unfriendly toward tourists, you need an invitation just to visit the country in the first place. I probably carried my passport around in Burma/Myanmar, but I can't remember.

One guy here in Colombia got his paper copy notarized locally, which I thought was a great idea (cost was $3.00).

Billy and Akaisha copied their main passport page, shrunk it, then laminated it into a two sided passport copy card.

You can also pay for one of those USA passport cards.

That being said, I always carry a copy with me, no matter what (just a simple black and white copy of the main page on white paper, an I will usually cut out just the relevant portion). In the past I got careless about that and rarely even carried a copy, but I decided that was really dumb and it makes sense to always have a copy.

MichaelB also had the good suggestion to take pictures of your entry stamps so that if your passport is stolen you have proof of when you entered. And, of course, always have an electronic copy of your passport that you can access and print out in the event it is stolen.

Kramer
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Old 08-08-2010, 05:02 PM   #4
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Whether I carry my passport with me depends on the situation. If I feel the passport will be safer on my person than at my hotel, I keep it with me. If vice versa, I keep it at the hotel. Many factors go into the decision, including whether there is a locking safe/locker in my room, how dodgy the hotel staff seem, and the likelihood of mugging on the street.

Pickpocketing doesn't factor in much because the passport, when on my person, is always in a buttoned, front pocket in my cargo pants. I keep the passport in this waterproof passport pouch, which I then put in a large ziplock freezer bag. The freezer bag makes it harder to slip the passport out of my pocket, even if someone were able to unbutton it.

I keep a xeroxed copy of the passport in the other place: hotel if the passport is with me, and with me if the passport is at the hotel. I always have a scanned image of the passport (as well as driver's license, vaccination card, etc.) uploaded to a secure (I hope) online storage site.
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Old 08-10-2010, 02:25 PM   #5
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I keep my passport and wallet in the safe. I carry a photo ID card, credit card and sufficient cash for the day trip. Never had a problem.
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Old 08-10-2010, 02:54 PM   #6
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I keep a copy of my passport along with my trip itinerary (even if it's hand written) with hotel and cell phone number of my wife, along with a copy of what prescriptions I'm on in a small travel pack I always travel with.

I'm a bit wary of traveling in a country, not knowing the language, being separated from my DW (as she is shopping on some other street) and being hit by a car.

Laying there, not speaking the language, and any emergency personnel have no clue as to who I am or what my needs are; both physical and "mental". And if I'm unconscious?

Better safe than sorry. Just something an old geezer like me does...
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Old 08-10-2010, 02:55 PM   #7
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Whether I carry my passport with me depends on the situation. If I feel the passport will be safer on my person than at my hotel, I keep it with me. If vice versa, I keep it at the hotel. Many factors go into the decision, including whether there is a locking safe/locker in my room, how dodgy the hotel staff seem, and the likelihood of mugging on the street.

Pickpocketing doesn't factor in much because the passport, when on my person, is always in a buttoned, front pocket in my cargo pants. I keep the passport in this waterproof passport pouch, which I then put in a large ziplock freezer bag. The freezer bag makes it harder to slip the passport out of my pocket, even if someone were able to unbutton it.

I keep a xeroxed copy of the passport in the other place: hotel if the passport is with me, and with me if the passport is at the hotel. I always have a scanned image of the passport (as well as driver's license, vaccination card, etc.) uploaded to a secure (I hope) online storage site.
this is what i do. i also copy my visa for countries where one has to receive the visa in advance. i usually keep the passport in the hotel safe. i have online copies of my yellow card as well.

i've kicked around the idea of getting a second passport. it's only good for a couple of years though...
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Old 08-10-2010, 05:22 PM   #8
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Pickpocketing doesn't factor in much because the passport, when on my person, is always in a buttoned, front pocket in my cargo pants. I keep the passport in this waterproof passport pouch, which I then put in a large ziplock freezer bag. The freezer bag makes it harder to slip the passport out of my pocket, even if someone were able to unbutton it.
This is exactly where my wallet was in Rome when I got pickpocketed. Not in the big freezer bag, which might have helped. These guys are pros, though. It wasn't even a bump and grab, just an extremely light touch. The Artful Dodger would have been proud. And a visit to the Polizia Municipale is not how I would have preferred to spend my precious vacation time. Educational, though.

As with some of the others, I would lock up my passport and carry a copy. In an inside the shirt pouch.
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Old 08-10-2010, 05:35 PM   #9
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Yeah, speaking of wallets, I have not carried one for a long time.

For pick pocketing, they will use a tool to reach in sometimes. Ironically, pick pocketing seems to be a bigger issue in southern Europe than in developing countries.

When going out for an evening and having more cash than usual on me, I will separate the big bills from the small ones. (usually one wad in each front pocket). The only thing I might ever keep in a back pocket (which is more vulnerable) is passport copy, a paper map, and sometimes a small umbrella.

A Canadian friend starting doing this after an incident in Thailand. During the evening, one of the elephants wandered up (this was in town). And the handlers accept donations and then you can feed the elephant what they give you. The typical donation might be 30 baht ($1). My friend thinks he is giving this guy 50 baht but had grabbed a 1000 baht ($30). At the moment of money transfer my friend suddenly realized this. The handler and my friend were both pulling hard on the bill, but my friend managed to snatch it back. Lesson learned!

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Old 08-10-2010, 06:03 PM   #10
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It wasn't even a bump and grab, just an extremely light touch.
Hmmm. Maybe I'm a little overconfident. No incidents in 20+ yrs of overseas travel, but I'm always looking to improve my system!

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When going out for an evening and having more cash than usual on me, I will separate the big bills from the small ones. (usually one wad in each front pocket).
Or when coming back from the ATM. The other (to me, bigger) advantage of separating the bills is that you avoid flashing big bills when taking out small ones.
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Old 08-10-2010, 10:09 PM   #11
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Pickpocketing doesn't factor in much because the passport, when on my person, is always in a buttoned, front pocket in my cargo pants. I keep the passport in this waterproof passport pouch, which I then put in a large ziplock freezer bag. The freezer bag makes it harder to slip the passport out of my pocket, even if someone were able to unbutton it.
What size freezer bag? gallon? and what is the mechanism that helps?
are you trapping air in the sealed bag and "wedging" it in your pocket so it's hard to get out? I've used the orphaned socks idea successfully on the Paris Metro........stuff a few loose socks around and on top of the wallet.....
the mechanism is the same as the lizard shedding it's tail to escape capture....the villain gets a bunch of socks (hopefully) but depends in part on the surprise/novelty . One disadvantage is that the pocket looks like a fat wallet and attracts attention but it did work once. After seeing your ziploc idea, I'm toying with mixing layers of plastic bags (not so bulky) and
socks for my continuous improvement project.
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Old 08-10-2010, 10:20 PM   #12
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When overseas, I carry my passport in my front jeans pocket (unless required to give it up at hotel) and my wallet in the other front jeans pocket. I never carry anything in my back pockets.

I am not paranoid about pickpockets & theft. I was last pickpocketed when I was 14 years old and in Mexico City. They got only traveler's checks.
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Old 08-10-2010, 11:01 PM   #13
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What size freezer bag? gallon? and what is the mechanism that helps?
Gallon sized. I force the air out before sealing it. The size of the bag makes it fill up my pocket, preventing the passport from easily sliding around, or in and out of, the pocket. If the pocket has two buttons, there may be enough space between them for a passport to slip through. A passport in a gallon-sized freezer bag can't slip through.

The sealed bag also adds another layer of water-proofness.
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Old 08-10-2010, 11:17 PM   #14
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I am a well seasoned traveler but still finding some excellent ideas here. Personally, My decision to carry the passport or leave it in the hotel safe depends on which country I am visiting. I always have it with me in places like China, Vietnam, and Korea. But when I visit Canada, UK, France, Switzerland, etc, it usually stays in the safe.

I like the idea of keeping a copy in a separate place, which I had never thought of. Somehow, I had it in my mind that copying a passport was not legal. If I could get a passport card though, official or unofficially like the Kaderli's example above, that sounds like a great idea.

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Old 08-11-2010, 09:16 PM   #15
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a buttoned, front pocket in my cargo pants.
I guess I've been living on another planet......had to google "cargo pants".
sounds like a vest you wear on your legs with many pockets for carrying stuff?
I'm interested in the button part of that for (hopefully) more pickpocket-proof.
Where to get and cost?
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Old 08-11-2010, 10:03 PM   #16
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Walmart has cargo shorts/pants for $12.
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Old 08-12-2010, 12:54 AM   #17
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I guess I've been living on another planet......had to google "cargo pants".
They're just baggy pants with lots of buttonable pockets. Great for travelling. I usually get mine at Wal Mart or Target. I always pick dark colors for travelling. They hide stains better. The exception is in areas with lots of mosquitoes, where you might want to wear light colors, which seem to be less attractive to mosquitoes.
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Old 08-12-2010, 08:06 AM   #18
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Thanks, LOL and Onward, for your info. Will stop by Walmart next wk.
Was initiallly interested bc of the buttons (soft lock) but the many pockets is interesting too. Kind of like that game where you hide something under one of 3 cups and then shuffle them around and dare the other person to guess which one has the valuables.
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Old 08-12-2010, 08:25 AM   #19
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I keep a xeroxed copy of the passport in the other place: hotel if the passport is with me, and with me if the passport is at the hotel. I always have a scanned image of the passport uploaded to a secure (I hope) online storage site.
just wondering what the consequences of someone getting that info could be....
w/ ssn, they could perhaps access financial assets. What about passport info
(not the actual passport)? And what is a secure online storage site?
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Old 08-12-2010, 09:40 AM   #20
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just wondering what the consequences of someone getting that info could be.... w/ ssn, they could perhaps access financial assets. What about passport info (not the actual passport)? And what is a secure online storage site?
As far as passport theft, I'm more worried about the hassle factor for me than about ID theft. My SSN isn't on my passport. But now that I think about it, there is a real risk of ID theft because someone could use my passport, maybe with a replaced photo, to represent himself as me and get access to personal info like SSN.

A couple of popular sites for online storage are http://docs.google.com and Welcome to Windows Live . Both use SSL encryption and require username + pswd. I'm sure there are even more secure sites for online storage out there.
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