Keeping your passport safe when you travel
Before you go
If applying for a visa by post before you travel (such as Vietnam) send the visa in registered/tracked envelopes.
Email a copy of the passport page which has your lovely photo and full name to yourself, or give a copy to a trusted friend/family member. Having a copy might help if you need to have your passport replaced while overseas. Consider your internet safety if you email a copy to yourself, or give it a silly filename if someone hacks your email account to make it less obvious.
Carry a photocopy of your passport in a different location (eg in a travel bag).
Pack spare passport photos as you will need these for a replacement passport.
Is it likely you will need to leave your passport in the room while you are out? For example, if you are going scuba diving it might be better leaving the passport at the room rather than on the boat. Consider taking a lock so you can lock your passport inside your luggage (or do multiple levels like a smaller locked bag within a locked suitcase).
On that last point, if you think your passport might be wet, sweaty or exposed to humidity consider taking a waterproof cover to protect it.
Fill out the contact details page, if you lose your passport someone might be nice enough to return it, not everyone is trying to steal tourist identities.
Register your trip at Smartraveller – I must admit that I don’t always do this, but am trying to get into the habit! This won’t stop your passport being lost/stolen, but shows you are a wonderfully responsible traveller and the loss/theft of your passport was truly a freak event!
Buy travel insurance and read any safety tips they provide. Some insurance companies can also assist in providing advice on how to start the process of getting a replacement passport.
Don’t be nervous like Piglet – stay safe and enjoy your journey!
Passport safety while you travel
Use a money belt or similar travel accessory to make it harder for someone to snatch the precious passport.
Look after your passport – keep it flat and don’t expose to moisture.
Lock the passport in a safe if you can’t take it with you – eg a day of water activities. But only if you can trust the hotel safe.
If you don’t want to rely on hotel safes, and really can’t bring the passport with you, use a bag with a lock and hide it well.
Don’t be afraid to refuse leaving your passport with the hotel reception, or any other business such as car/scooter rentals. They may need a copy, but you don’t have to leave the original. I had to push back pretty hard at several hotels in India that wanted to hold passports, whilst it would probably have been fine, I would rather be seen as an over controlling tourist than have my identity stolen (unless they were planning on paying my bills, or investing wisely in the stock market on my behalf…but I doubt that).
The Lord of the Rings is here to help
Overall, repeat the words of Gandalf to Frodo – “Keep it Secret, Keep it Safe”.
Or if you are more of a Gollum fan go with the overprotective, totally obsessive, all consuming “My precious”….
Protect that Passport!
As mentioned at the start of the post these are only my tips. Smartraveller or the Australian Passport Office are good starting points if your passport is lost/stolen overseas. Alternatively, see if your travel insurance company will assist in getting you in contact with the right people (because you got insurance didn’t you!).