Watch Out! Keep Your Eyes on the Passport

Watch Out! Keep Your Eyes on the Passport … from the Watch Out Travel Series

Front Desk:    Good morning, sir and madam. Welcome. How are you both today?
Doc:               Very good, thank you. How are you?
Front Desk:    Very well too, sir. May I have your passports, please?
Doc:               Sure, both?
Front Desk:    Yes, both.

travel alert, advice, reachingdelphi, coffee
Always have your travel document in sight or store it safely

Xeroxing is a standard procedure, but Doc and I have been through several incidents that made us suspicious of the staff. They are listed below for you to be aware of because some criminal organisations steal personal information or passport pages. Generally, all passports are at risk, but the ones from the West are more popular targets for theft.

travel alert, advice, reachingdelphi, coffee
An overview

Incident 1: 

Our passports were requested at the front desk during check-in. After ensuring the faces on the documents matched the faces standing in front of him, the front desk officer handed us the room key and briefly informed us about the hotel facilities. We learnt that there were two restaurants, a swimming pool, and a gym located in this hotel. Then, he nodded at the bellboy, who quickly came to take our luggage and escort us to the room. The front desk officer smiled as he told us we were all checked in and could proceed to our rooms. So far, so good. These are pretty standard procedures at most hotels all over the world.

But hey, wait! What about our passports? 

The front desk told us not to worry as he would bring the passports over after he photocopied them. Though we were not comfortable with this arrangement, we followed the bellboy to our room anyway. After all, we were at a relatively high-end hotel, so what could go wrong?

An hour passed, but our travel checklist status was in red, as our passports were still not with us. We were getting agitated and called the front desk several times to inquire. Eventually, our travel documents were returned to us. We checked the contents. They were intact. When asked why it took so long, the officer told us the photocopier was down and that he had to get the machine fixed.

I later understood from the hotel’s online reviews that the same had happened to many other guests. The reason for the delay was the same – the photocopier was faulty. Since a photocopy is essential for their business, we found it strange that the copier hadn't been fixed despite the many online reviews.


Incident 2: 

Another variation occurred when the front desk officer “forgot” to photocopy the essential passport pages during the check-in procedure and sent a bellboy over to collect the document from our room. Based on our experience, we decided to take a walk with the bellboy and, this time, waited until our passports were photocopied and handed back to us before we returned to the room. This incident happened in a tourist-class hotel.


Incident 3

Photocopies of passports were required, but we were informed the photocopier was off the premises in another office. This is a very convenient reason for someone to separate you from your passport for a while. When we insisted that we go with them to get the documents photocopied, magically, another hotel staff informed us there was no need for that as there was a copier in the next room. He apologised for the mix-up, saying that the officer at the front desk was new.

travel alert, advice, reachingdelphi
Observe. Be safe

What I Learnt

  • Incidents such as these can happen anywhere and on any continent. Your passport is your responsibility. Always have it in sight or store it safely.
  • Keep your passport in a hotel safe or safely with you when you are on the go.
  • If a photocopy of the passport is required for security and local government requirements, that's fine, but request it to be copied within your sight. 
  • Ideally, passports should be black-and-white copied. 
  • Check your passport once it's returned to you. Make sure it's not been tampered with. Also, check that no passport pages are torn away.
  • Know that there is no reason for any hotel to hold your passport without your request. 
  • For local travellers, apply the same safety measures for local photo IDs, as they could also be stolen. Examples include National Registration Identity cards, Social Security cards, and Citizen Card Aadhar cards.

Keep your passports safe when you travel. That little book deserves more respect than it's sometimes given.

travel alert, advice, reachingdelphi
Invited for coffee, but not for trouble. Prevent!


Regardless of whether you are a business traveller or vacationer, a one-time or frequent traveller – if you travel, you are exposed to risks. It’s important to understand that some of us are easier targets than others.

Doc was a sensible traveller, while I, quite the opposite. Through Watch Out! Travel Mishaps from Reaching Delphi Travellers Alert series, I will share some of our travel misadventures with you. My aim is to create the awareness of such incidents and some useful suggestions to reduce the occurrence of unpleasant events. 

This series is dedicated to Doc - SV Narayanan, who constantly reminded me and many others to 'Watch Out!. 

 Follow Coffee Trail – Counting Stars, Reaching Delphi for travel updates and tips.


Also in the WatchOut! series:

Watch Out! The Banquette Seat Ride  




  1. Well, it's better to safe than sorry later. Nice one to post awareness to reader. Will watch out if.. after all if I manage to travel ;-)

    1. 🙏🙏🙏 hard for this phase to be over and we can start travelling again.

  2. Anonymous11/13/2021

    A good reminder for us all. Especially so with travel becoming a reality after a long hiatus. Thanks.

  3. Oh i have never thought of this. Thanks for reminding!

  4. Great reminder dear. Yes with all the excitement of travelling , you sometimes forget or overlooked safety. Thank you for this wonderful read.

    1. Exactly Jija, safety first, fun next.