Need Advice- First time traveling overseas

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by mlarso85, Mar 18, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. mlarso85
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    mlarso85 Silver Member

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    Hello all, I'm new to this forum and I am looking for some advice. I am a young father (26) and I am taking my wife and two small kids to Europe in a few months for a vacation. I have never been overseas before and I have a few questions about safety while over there. We will be mainly on the west-side of Germany with small trips to Belgium and maybe Paris. We will be accompanied by some friends of ours that live over there who are native German citizens. They are driving us everywhere, so I really don't have to worry about public transport and all that. Plus we will have a native speaker, so I'm not worried about being "taken for a ride" since I don't speak the language.

    What I am was wondering about is when you folks travel overseas, do you keep your passport on you whenever you are out in public? If so, how do you keep it secure? I'm going to basically have to be holding 4 passports (my wife's, our two kids, and mine) plus my wallet. I know pickpockets aren't nearly as bad as the media says they are but I would still worry about that. Is it really necessary to have your passport with you at all times or is that a little ridiculous. We are staying in hotels for some nights, so I wouldn't want to leave it in the hotel either. Any info or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

    I've really enjoyed reading all the info on the site. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. HiIslands
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    HiIslands Silver Member

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    I usually keep my passport safely locked in the hotel safe. I know some people will write comments that in such-and-such a country you are required to carry your passport at all times, but quite frankly the risk of losing your passport seems more onerous than the risk of not immediately being able to produce it.

    Some exceptions: in some countries you may need your passport when changing currency at the bank, buying airline tickets, or checking into a new hotel. I have also been asked to produce my passport on trains, relative to rail pass travel and when crossing some borders. Otherwise, outside of immigration and customs, I have only been asked to produce my passport once-- by the railroad police in China, well outside of the station. I told them my passport was back at my hotel and they could come with me to see it there if they wanted. They declined.

    I don't think you will have much trouble in the E.U.

    Enjoy your trip!
     
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  3. pjoalfa
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    pjoalfa Silver Member

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    I think you'll find it perfectly safe, and a great experience.

    That said, I never, ever, run around with my passport. Lock it in the hotel safe and take photocopies if you feel better having some sort of evidence on you, but nobody will ask for it except maybe exchanging money. Just use an ATM.

    Do NOT underestimate the pickpocket risk as a tourist. It is every bit as bad as the media makes out. More so in some places than others, but remember, tourists stick out, and tend to go places that are crowded and rife for pickpocketing. Keep your stuff well guarded at all times.
     
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  4. weegiewife
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    weegiewife Silver Member

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    I often have mine on my person if I think I will require it for exchanging money. Often times I am staying in budget hotels that don't have a room safe. I use either a money wallet that wraps around your waist and can be worn under your clothes. (Not a bum-bag - these are much flatter and designed to be worn underneath clothing. I wear it low enough down so it is underneath my trousers, which are belted, so it would be difficult (though I am sure not impossible) for someone to get their hands on it. The other item I have used and loved is a 'hidden pocket'. It is a slightly-larger-than-passport sized zippered pocket which has two loops on it (one khaki and one black) these can be looped around a belt and the pocket is worn inside your clothing. I think it was Eagle Creek that made it.
     
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  5. Bonnie
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    Bonnie Silver Member

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    We always keep our passports in a hotel safe. You could make a copy of the first page of your passport and carry that with you if you think you may need to produce documentation, which I've never needed in Europe. Enjoy your trip!
     
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  6. Robin
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    Robin Silver Member

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    Another post for keeping your passports in a hotel safe and taking a copy your passports with you. I also scan the first page of my passport and email it to myself as a double backup. If you don't want to scan them, leave copies with a trusted friend/family member is the U.S.
     
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  7. anng3
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    anng3 Silver Member

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    My husband and I always wear a money belt. I still have the first one I bought at a AAA office and it works fine.

    A friend of mine just had her whole passport copied, laminated and then folded it so it looks like a mini passport that she carries around with her. It's very cool looking and seems to work better than carrying paper copies. You might want to split yours and your wifes passports and money between 2 belts.

    You might also want to empty your wallet into your money belt and leave it at home.
     
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  8. Good advice to always have a copy of everything. One way to do this is to store the copies as PDF files on your home computer or an online storage service that allows remote retrieval.
     
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  9. slice19
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    slice19 Silver Member

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    Technically Germany is one of those countries that requires foreigners to have their passports on them. I've lived here for 4 years now and rarely carry mine and I have never been asked. However, I had mine in my purse for the past 2 weeks (mostly because I needed it one day and forgot to remove it) and it was completely safe. I would suggest having your wife throw them in her purse if you don't feel comfortable leaving them in the hotel. If you are crossing country boarders be sure to have them on you, just in case. Particularly on trains it is common to be asked to produce your passport even within the EU. As far as pickpockets, Germany is one of the safer countries IMO but just be aware when you are in touristy locations and don't leave your stuff unattended and you should be fine. Enjoy Europe!
     
  10. mht_flyer
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    mht_flyer Gold Member

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    I always keep my passport in my front pocket when traveling as well as my wallet when overseas, never had any issue (ie losing it, etc). I agree with others, always keep a photo copy or 2 of your passport data page just in case.
     
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  11. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    as others have said keep your passport in your hotel safe and have a copy of the first page (I make a color copy) when you walk around. The countries you are going to are very safe.
     
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  12. mlarso85
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    mlarso85 Silver Member

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    Thank you for the overwhelming information. It's very appreciated!
     
  13. IMGone
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    IMGone Silver Member

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    I have a color copy of the id page of the passport I keep with me when overseas, the pp is in the hotel safe. Unless you are crossing a border, I would say leave them in a safe at the hotel. If you take them don't keep them all in one place, share with your wife. Otherwise, use the same precautions you would in any us city and have a great time.
     
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  14. techguru
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    techguru Silver Member

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    I scan a copy of my passport, and I email it to myself. Just in case something happens. I also keep the passport in the hotel safe unless I need it -- for example some stores require the passport when making a purchase or tax refund. I also make sure I have medical evacuation insurance -- you can get from many vendors -- we've used American Express and Travelex just in case something happens.
     
  15. Grozzy
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    Grozzy Silver Member

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    It would also be a good idea to keep your drivers licence on you as an alternative form of identification. If it gets lost it wont ruin your trip. There are also some places which require an Id as deposit for audio tours.
    You should be able to leave your passport secure in your hotel.
     
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  16. swisshera
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    swisshera Silver Member

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    when I first travel oversea by myself (at age 12), I would write down a few important phone numbers, either the police, hotel or whatever important numbers in life-saving situations. Definitely photocopy your passport, map and address of your hotel, and store all credit card information in an excel sheet with customer service phone number as well. email it, in case you lost your cards - you have someone to talk to to help you out on financial.

    Always always ALWAYS watch out of your IDs and know where you are going. I was followed by locals a few times and being a woman isn't helping when alone (not in EU though.)
     
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  17. savydog
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    savydog Gold Member

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    I g.mail my travel bookings and a copy of my passport to myself. Very easy to look up. Was at the expo in China last year and got slightly lost. Walking along saw some police cadets doing training behind a fence. I was then met by two armed soldiers who gestured for me to remove myself forthwith. Passport was back in the hotel safe and not asked for :)
     
  18. techguru
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    techguru Silver Member

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    Europe not so much an issue, but make sure you visit the travel clinic and make sure your family is current on recommended vaccinations. Our friend went to Philippines and got TB didn't get the vaccine ahead of time -- 1 shot could have prevented it. I'd also make sure you think about sensible gear -- walking shoes, umbrella, etc. -- don't want to get caught without at the same time don't over pack.
     
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  19. anng3
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    anng3 Silver Member

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    Another good thing to do is make a scan or copy of the front and back of all your credit cards, bank card and medical insurance cards. Leave copies in your computer, luggage or in your room safe. Nothing will probably happen but it's good to have the numbers for canceling, reporting or emergencies.
     
  20. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    The more you can successfully blend in with the locals, the better off you'll be. Don't dress in a way that screams foreigner or tourist. It can be better to avoid brightly colored or revealing clothing.

    If possible, study the map in your hotel room and carry it but don't pull it out on the street if you can avoid this.

    Always have a hard copy of the name and address of your hotel in the local language with you at all times. (Have you ever heard the one about the dumb American who had trouble finding his hotel in Paris when he remembered that it was near the Coca-Cola sign? Same for Munich, but substitute Einbahnstrasse sign--it means one way street.)
     
  21. IMGone
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    IMGone Silver Member

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    If you do this and carry it with you, I strongly suggest you keep it locked up or with your carry on luggage. Do not put it in the bags being left in your room. It could be fine, or it could go very wrong, with out knowing which until sometime in the future.
     
  22. anng3
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    anng3 Silver Member

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    The advice to not look like a tourist reminded me leave home expensive jewelry.
     
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  23. anng3
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    anng3 Silver Member

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    Your absolutely right, by luggage I meant locked luggage.
     
  24. Travel2Food
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    Travel2Food Silver Member

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    The better choice would be to scan them to a file and encrypt the file (something like TrueCrypt or PGP). Place on a flash drive of some kind. Then lock in room safe.

    I usually keep PP in hotel safe and carry passport card as ID. Although I haven't been asked, it should suffice as a government identity card for many situations.
     
  25. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I never even leave my itinerary out in my hotel room, let alone anything that might have my credit card number or home address on it, such as a receipt. It doesn't hurt to be careful.
     

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