Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How to Keep Your Passport and Money Safe

When you are traveling abroad it is important to keep your personal items safe. Some people will tell you to always keep a close eye on your personal belongings and to use a hotel safe when possible. I would suggest that you take some further steps to ensure the protection of your most important items, namely your passport, credit cards and cash.

Fake wallet

When I'm traveling I always carry a fake wallet in my back pocket. In the wallet, I put a small amount of cash, a few expired credit cards, and various other cards like an old library card or a grocery store discount card. The cash is minimal and it doesn't matter if I lose the cards as they do not hold value themselves. The idea here is that if someone is to rob me they will go for my back pocket first. Upon seeing the cash and cards, they will assume that this is all I have on me.

Money belt

Instead of keeping my important items in my wallet or in any of my pockets, I use a concealed money belt which I wear underneath my shirt. Inside the money belt, I keep my passport, credit cards and cash. Be careful when you retrieve items from your money belt, however. Never do so in a crowded place or in an area where someone can easily see what you are doing. Instead, duck into a restaurant or a shop and retrieve whatever money or credit card you may need at the time.

Secret Pocket

Another option I have used is a secret pocket in a pair of shorts or pants. You can buy shorts and pants that have pre-sewn secret pockets or you could go to a tailor yourself and have one custom made. Secret pockets are extremely secure, but they can be inconvenient if you need to access your money or credit cards. I would recommend using a money belt for cash and credit cards and then using a secret pocket for your passport or any other important identification information that you will rarely need to present.

Additional tips

Never put your passport, credit cards, or cash in a backpack. Pickpockets and thieves are exceptionally skillful and even if you are wearing a backpack, they may be able to remove items without you noticing. Also, keep in mind that while the above tips are helpful, the biggest asset you have in protecting your personal items is your own common sense. Always be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts. If a place seems unsafe, leave. You should know local emergency numbers and you should be able to speak a few words of the local language if you are in a foreign land. If you keep these tips in mind and heed the advice above, your trip should be safe and enjoyable.

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