Your passport is your most crucial possession when you’re traveling abroad. But, as with anything else, it is vulnerable to getting damaged, misplaced, lost, or stolen. Being without your passport on foreign soil can be hugely problematic. That’s why it’s essential to know how to safeguard your passport to ensure you never have to experience these problems. Let’s explore how to keep your passport safe when traveling abroad.
In this article, we share a few crucial tips that you can use to keep your passport safe as you travel overseas.
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1. Have your passport on your person at all times to keep it safe
You might have seen many websites recommend that you keep your passport locked inside your hotel room locker and not carry it with you everywhere you go. Sure, that’s a great way to keep your passport safe, provided you can access a secure locker in your hotel room.
But the truth is, many tourists travel on a budget. As a result, they tend to live in hostels and AirBnBs, which often don’t have a locker facility. In such a case, although this seems counterintuitive, you are the safest harbor for your passport. Firstly, when you know your passport is always with you, it’s easier to find out if it’s missing. Secondly, many places ask you to furnish your passport before letting you through, which helps keep your passport handy.
Here are a few ways to keep your passport safe on your person –
- Purchase a passport cover/bag and place the passport in it. Then attach the bag to your undershirt or underwear with a safety pin or a ribbon. That way, you can wear the passport on your person. If someone wants to get your passport, they’ll need to get up close – which you will be able to detect and avoid.
- Place your passport in a hidden compartment inside your bag. Wear the bag at the front and not on your back. That way, your hands will be free to protect the bag with your passport and wallet.
- Store your passport in a money belt that you can wear around your waist. This belt is usually inconspicuous and small enough to hold your cards, some cash, and your passport.
We reckon that you dedicate a specific space to your passport bag and not keep anything. It makes it easy to identify if the passport is there or not. If you’re pinning/tying your passport to your clothes, familiarize yourself with the feeling and weight it exudes. Practice wearing your passport at home, so you can recognize when it’s on you and when it’s off.
2. Offer copies of your passport at checkpoints
While the authorities may occasionally ask to see your authentic passport, most often, you can make do with photocopies of your passport. So, if you wish to purchase alcohol or a particular pharmaceutical in a store and the shop owner asks you for your passport, you can show them the copy, not the original. This will prevent you from having to keep taking your passport out of your bag/pocket/clothing, and you’ll reduce the risk of it being lost or stolen.
3. Never leave your passport unattended, and don’t hand over your passport to someone else
Your passport is your lifeline, and it’s essential to keep hold of it at all times. So, never give someone else the responsibility to carry it for you. Even if there’s no ill intent, a simple thing like them running late to meet you may cause problems when traveling abroad without your passport.
If you’re expected to keep your bag or jacket outside when visiting someplace, take your passport out and place it in your pocket and your wallet. Don’t leave your passport unattended, even if they offer a locker.
Plus, don’t take up hostel or AirBnB owners or shopkeepers on their offer to keep your passport safe in their lockers while you’re out. At any point, you should always have your passport in your hands or somewhere in your person when you are traveling abroad.
It’s a good habit to check every half hour to ensure your passport is still with you. Find a private space such as a public bathroom, a not-so-busy street, or at your restaurant table to check for your passport subtly.
4. Be aware of your surroundings at all times
This means not listening to music on your headphones and not talking on the phone when moving about. More importantly, try not to take out your passport when you’re busy navigating a crowd or walking in a place that seems secluded or unsafe.
Listen with your entire body. Please pay attention to people’s expressions or body language as they see you. Most importantly, trust your instincts. Your gut will tell you if something is amiss and if you should head to a safer location.
5. Don’t panic if you can’t find your passport
We know this is easier said than done. But panicking will only make you feel more confused and stressed, clouding your memory and judgment when traveling abroad. So, start by finding a quiet and private place to check your bag carefully. Then retrace your steps mentally to remember if you took your passport out of your bag at any time. If you can, head back to the last place you visited to ask if the personnel there have found a misplaced passport. If none of this work, Google the number of your embassy in the country and contact them to ask about further steps.
Embassies often expect you to carry other forms of national identification, such as social security number or driver’s license, to help them establish your identity. You can use these to get to the embassy and seek help with the next steps.