If there is one thing in all your travelling possessions that I
would consider the most invaluable, it would be my passport.
A passport is your entry, stay, and exit permit to any
destination that is outside your home country.
Without your passport, you will not be able to enter into a new
country. The border guards will turn you back until you can
present an authentic passport or a passport with a valid visa to
enter the country. The guards need to stamp your passport
with an entry stamp that includes where you crossed the
border and the date.
To exit the country you will need your passport. The border
guards will give you an exit stamp next to your entry stamp
that proves that you have legally left the country. The guards
also will check for the date of the entry stamp on your
passport to ensure that you didn’t stay longer than you were
I am very strict about keeping my passport on my body at all
times. Many times, hostels, guesthouses, rental agencies
wanted to keep my passport as collateral. This is illegal! Do
not let them have it. You can give it to them so they can fill
out the necessary forms, but always – ALWAYS – get it back.
Place it securely in your money belt which is fastened securely
inside your clothes.
In some countries, if you are found without a valid passport on
your person, you will be taken to the nearest police station
until your identity is proven. This process could sometimes
take anywhere from a couple days to a week or longer
depending on how strict the security policies of the country
are. Some countries are pretty paranoid.
Inside the passport, there is a section where you can fill in
your emergency contact information. Ensure that you
accurately fill it out. It is also a good idea to contact that
person and tell them that you are putting them down as your
As a precaution, photocopy the page in your passport that
contains your personal information and picture. Make a couple
copies of these and place each of them in a different and
secure place in your main pack and day pack. Give a copy to
someone you trust back home such as your parents, or close
Take extra passport photos with you – even though color is
more expensive, take around a dozen extras. If you are going
to enter a country that requires you to get a visa, you will most
likely have to produce one or two passport photos along with
the application form and money. Having these photos on hand
saves you from searching for a photo booth in a foreign
If you lose your passport, don’t panic. This has happened to
other travellers before and there are processes in place to get a
new one. Even if you have lost everything, including your
money and gear, most embassies and consulates offer financial
services to help out in this kind of emergency.
You need to contact your local consulate in the country you
are in. This can be found in your guidebook, tourist
information centre, or on the Internet. They will inform you
about how to obtain a new passport.
Proving your citizenship can be a long process. Your
photocopies, identity cards, and birth certificate will help
significantly. Once you have proven your identity, you are
going to have to wait until your passport is printed in your
home country and mailed to you.