When you’re planning to travel to a foreign country, it’s important to take the safety of your passport into consideration. There are so many stolen passport horror stories, and thieves are often very smart (and experienced) about stealing passports. When traveling, you will need to know the location of your passport at all times and make sure to keep it really safe. This includes your time in an airport, especially after getting off a long flight when you will feel disoriented. The following five tips will help you keep tabs on your passport during your travels.
How to Protect Your Passport and Valuables When Traveling
1. Make a photocopy of your passport before you go
If you’re going to a country where you need to carry your passport around with you (sometimes you need it when buying train tickets, for example), make a photocopy and carry that around instead. Leave your passport in a safe place in your hotel or place of residence.
2. Register your trip
The U.S. State Department allows American citizens to register their trip online before they go. In the event that something happens, the nearest U.S. embassy will know that you’re there already and will be able to better assist you if you lose your passport.
3. Buy an RFID passport shield
Everyone should put one of these on their passport. Modern passports have an electronic chip embedded in them, which means that thieves with electronic readers can steal your identity. Called “RFID skimming,” thieves carry devices that can detect and read the information in your passport at a distance. The shield blocks radio signals from entering your passport. RFID passport holders are inexpensive, small, and easy to find. If you want to go to the next level, Tiganello makes some pretty attractive RFID purses!
4. Don’t put your passport in a vulnerable place
...like your front or back pockets or in an open purse. If you carry a purse, buy one that has a zipper over the top to keep all the contents inside safe. When riding the metro or in a crowded place, keep the purse safely under your arm with the zipper facing in front of you so that it can’t be unzipped from behind. If you’re wearing a backpack, keep the passport as deeply inside as possible and far away from being unzipped. If you put it in your front pockets, make sure that the pocket is tight enough that your passport won’t fall out and that it is out of sight completely. If you’re headed to a country with a reputation for being more dangerous, consider a money belt. It’s not stylish, but it will give you peace of mind.
5. Plan for contingencies
Nothing is worse than losing your passport and then realizing that your visa is about to expire in two days. When planning your trip, make sure that you understand your embassy or consulate’s open days and hours, and that you don’t stay until the last possible day on your visa. Make sure that you have enough money in your bank account for a few extra days in a city, especially if your passport unexpectedly gets stolen in an airport. Also, do some research on your destination countries ahead of time so you understand the frequency of theft in public places and can take good precautions on the ground.
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Have fun traveling, be safe, and take good care of your passport so you can keep traveling!
This article was written by Cathy Trainor. Image by Gregory Bourolias.