HOW SAFE IS YOUR PASSPORT? 6 STEPS TO PREVENT THEFT
I must check my passport a thousand times when I pack, when I am on my way to the airport, when I am checking in, when I clear customs, when I am on a plane, when I am at my hotel…well, you get the drift. I am a little more than paranoid about losing my passport. But how safe is your passport, really? If you’re travelling abroad, your passport should be your number one item on your packing list. It’s your identity on paper and not only do you need it to enter a foreign country, you need it to get back into your home country. So having your passport lost or stolen on your travels can turn a trip of a lifetime into a potentially expensive disaster. Even worse, passports make big bucks on the black market so you need to make sure your passport is being properly protected. So how safe is your passport? Below I share my top 6 tips to prevent theft.
DON’T FLASH IT AROUND It will not help if you flash your passport around on your travels. Thieves look out for travellers who are relaxed and carefree about their passports, which makes them easy targets. So keep your passport hidden and inconspicuous at all time.
ONLY USE IT WHEN YOU NEED IT This tip may sound fairly simple, but it’s essential. Only show your passport to officials who ask to see it and when they’re done, quickly pack it away safely. Don’t carry it in your hand, you might get distracted (potentially intentionally by thieves) and misplace it.
CONSIDER A BODY WALLET There are arguments for and against carrying your passport on you at all times when you travel. I think this is down to personal preference and where you’re staying. If you do want to carry it on yourself, consider a travel body wallet/money belt for you to store your passport. I sometimes leave my passport tucked securely in my bra; although this is not so practical for male travellers…
USE HOTEL SAFES On the flip side, if you don’t want to carry your passport on you, there are numerous hotels that have secure electronic safes. You simply choose a code personal to you, close the safe door and lock it. Do be careful with the personal code you choose – 123456 is not ideal nor is selecting the date, month and year of your birthdate. Get creative, but not too creative otherwise you might forget the code!
DON’T USE IT AS YOUR PRIMARY I.D You should not treat your passport as your primary I.D. Before you travel abroad, make sure you have another form of I.D that you can comfortably carry with you everywhere, such as a drivers licence or and 18+ card.
TAKE PHOTOCOPIES OF YOUR PASSPORT I highly recommend taking photocopies of your passport and handing them out to strangers. Not! But do give a copy to your family back home. You never know, you may need a copy if something happens to your passport.
Image: Cindy Chen