In lieu of an April fools joke my sister played on me (She is currently studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain and decided to frantically text me saying she was in Italy and had been pick pocketed, loosing her passport and leaving her with absolutely NO identification. I later found this was a HUGE, not very funny JOKE), I decided to share a few invaluable travel tips than can prevent a great vacation from going terribly wrong!
When traveling throughout Mexico, or any other part of the world, we are not graced with the luxury of knowing our belongings will stay with us at all times. In many countries pick pocketing is rampant and can be done right in front of your eyes! In the case of theft, some people may lose some money, maybe even a camera, but for other who lose their passport, it can mean an incredible amount of stress and a much more difficult trip home.
In order to avoid the possibility of losing you passport, it is important to do a number of things:
1. Make multiple copies of your passport– Where ever you may be headed, it is crucial that you make duplicate copies of your passport and leave one at home or with a family member. This is a good way for family to be a help when you come across a “little bump in the road”. You should also always keep another copy with you when out during the day or night. Never carry your passport with you unless you are in an airport or other place that requires identification. I always hide the remaining copy of my passport under the sole of my tennis shoe, a trick a wise, well-traveled woman (my mom) once taught me! Take the sole inset out of your tennis shoe, fold the copy and place it into your shoe, and then replace the insert! I have found this to be a genius hiding place, however since it’s now out for the world to read I may need to come up with a new one!
2. Always keep passport in a hotel safe or locked area– Whether you are staying in a hotel or hostel, it is imperative to keep your passport guarded and locked up. If your room has a safe, make sure to place your passport or any other valuables inside. If staying at a hostel, many have lockers or boxes that you can put your belongings in, however locks are usually not provided. If backpacking, always carry an extra lock and key with you- you will use it more often than you think! If neither of these options are available, reception desks will often store your passport for you at your request (some hostels require it!).
3. Bring drivers license or other identification– Just because you are traveling with a passport does not mean you should leave any other form of identification with you. Always bring your drivers license, school identification card or anything else that may be of use in the case that you loose your passport and need to be identified! However, this along with a copy of your passport can be left in a locked place. DO NOT PUT ALL FORMS OF IDENTIFICATION IN THE SAME PLACE! :)
4. Know where your US Consulate is– Before traveling abroad, you should always research where the nearest US Embassy/ consulate is. Whether you run into an emergency or not, being familiar with your area and knowing the location of the US Embassy is imperative and should be the first place you turn to! It is also possible to alert the US Embassy when traveling abroad and is strongly advised when visiting countries with increased recent turmoil or any lesser traveled area.
Overall, taking these precautions can help to prevent any bumps in the road and ensure that if you do run into passport trouble, getting back to the United States is as painless and easy as possible!
Happy and Safe Travels!