If you lined up 20 world travelers and asked them the question, “Do you need to carry a passport with you at all times?” I bet you would get 20 different answers. Why? Because there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer just lots of opinions and no clear cut laws.
For a traveler, your passport is probably the most important document you’ll ever need.
I bet if we could fit them in our wallets this would be a non-issue. But since they are the size of a small children’s book it’s a huge pain and probably the real reason why we don’t carry them.
For us, we always have ours safely tucked away on our bodies. Keep reading for the logic behind our decision….
Let’s Start With The Laws
With nearly 200 countries in the world today –you would go nuts trying to figure out each and every ID law. If you were only traveling to one country it would be easy, but who does that any more? The other problem is, it’s really hard to find a real answer from a legit website.
Let’s look at a few examples I found on the official government UK Travel Website . You’ll notice each one is just a little different:
“We recommend that you carry your passport at all times. They are the only officially recognized form of identification in Croatia.”
“You don’t have to carry your passport with you, but it is sensible to keep some form of ID on you”
“You must be able to prove your identity either by providing documents when asked or within 4 hours at a police station. Identity documents can be a passport, a photo drivers license or other documentation provided by a government body”
“You should carry your passport and a printed copy of your e-visa (if applicable) or residence permit at all times. In some busy areas, especially Istanbul, the Turkish authorities are stopping members of the public to conduct ID checks”
“There’s no requirement to carry your passport with you, but if you’re asked to show your passport and you don’t have it with you, the police may escort you to wherever your passport is being kept so that you can show it to them”
Will You Lose It?
Yes, I will admit that the odds of you losing your passport when carrying it are probably higher than leaving it in the hotel safe, but most of us are responsible adults.
Let’s be real here… if you can travel around the world, figure out an itinerary, book a hotel, board a plane, buy a plane ticket…I think surely you can hold on to your passport if you wanted to.
But What If…?
Weird stuff happens especially when you least expect it. Your passport is your ticket in and out of the country, I would feel really uneasy if that very important document was not on my person at all times.
Imagine these scenarios when not having a passport would be a disaster:
- What if you decided to leave it behind in the hotel safe and it was stolen?
- What if you accidentally left it in the hotel safe because you weren’t carrying it and realized too late at the airport?
- What if you end up in the middle of a crazy disturbance and the police want to see your passport but you don’t have it because you left it in your hotel?
- What if you are at a tourist site, or whatever and they ask for it?
- What if there is some catastrophe and you need to get out of the country quickly but can’t get back to your hotel to get your passport in the safe?
I know you are more apt to get run over by a moose…but these things can and do occur. Just to illustrate my point, here are a few ditties for you.
I got this one from the travel community at Fodors:
“OK, here’s one for you then. Happened in Brussels. A brawl broke out in an Irish pub near the Grand’Place and spilled out on the street. The police came by, cordoned off the area and demanded that everyone — whether they’d been involved or not, whether they’d even been in the pub or not — show their real official IDs. Copies were not accepted. Those who could not produce valid, genuine IDs were penalized.
Another one for you. This time, in Switzerland. Tourists were riding the trams in Basel and forgot their free transit card that come with a hotel stay. The “control” police happened to do a spot check and when the tourists couldn’t produce their transit card, they were asked to produce official ID. The authorities were definitely NOT pleased to be shown mere copies. The couple was taken off the tram and I could see something (tickets, fines, no idea, I didn’t get off with them) being written up.”
You never know at tourist sites either, here’s one from the Rick Steves community:
“A couple of years ago we tried to go into a synagogue in Athens, which was guarded by a police post. He let me in with my passport, but was reluctant to let my wife in with just the copy she was carrying that day. We looked about as low risk as anyone could.”
You will never hear of anyone going to jail for CARRYING their passport.
Is A Photocopy Of Your Passport Good Enough?
So many people argue that a photocopy of your passport is just like carrying the original. Let’s face it, if I was stopped here at home by a cop and asked for my ID, then produced some ratty old photocopy of my license they would laugh at me.
Or maybe you are one of those ‘digital’ people and it’s on your smartphone. So now you and the officer have to scroll through 1,000 selfies of you posing in front of the Eiffel Tower trying to find your passport photo. Get my drift?
For me logic says why take the chance? Showing my actual real-life passport to a police officer in a foreign land is probably going to get me a lot farther than a folded up piece of printer paper.
We Never Lose Our Phones and Carry Them Everywhere
Funny thing is–people never seem to lose their phones. We hang onto those puppies for dear life, they go everywhere with us even to the bathroom. How many people do you know who’ve lost their phone? Probably zero because it just doesn’t happen.
Like your passport, losing your phone would be a complete disaster too. They have become our brains and have years of precious information on them like your photos, contacts, credit card info, and PASSWORDS. Can you imagine losing your passwords? I shiver thinking about it.
Yet you will never see the question “Should I Carry My Phone When I Travel or Leave it In the Hotel Safe?” Because it’s crazy talk.
So here’s a thought people, pretend your passport is your phone—-whatever you do to keep ahold of that precious little device, do the same for your passport. Just saying.
What Do We Do?
Well, until the day we can add our passports to our apple wallets, we’re carrying ours!
Mike wears pants by Columbia with zips pockets and I wear a waist pack by LeSportsSac which I use as a crossbody and we tuck those babies right next to our cellphones. We have never had a problem (everybody knock on wood please, we don’t want to jinx ourselves now do we).
There are a million ways to carry your passport which you can find in our Amazon Store Including the stuff we use above.
So what do you do? Do you stash (hotel) or carry (on your body)? Let us know below….
As always HAPPY TRAILS 👣 ,