Q. Whenever I've traveled internationally, I've always stashed my passport in a safe place (hotel safe, stuffed deep in my luggage, etc) soon after arrival and I leave it there until I get back on the plane to go home.
My new husband thinks that travelers should carry their passports with them for safety and identification. He keeps his in his pocket or wears a money belt under his clothes.
I think money belts are for geeks (why don't you just wear a fanny pack, safari vest and white socks with sandals?!). I'm much more likely to get my passport lost or stolen if I'm carrying it around than if I leave it in a safe place. Who is right?
A. There are advantages and disadvantages for both: stashing it in the hotel safe (never the one in your hotel room, but the one the front desk has access to) or keeping it on your person. That said, there are countries where your passport is more valuable than money or jewels and a vulnerable tourist is an easy target. And yes, they know all about those money belts under your shirt and can slip those right off of you, no problemo. How do we know? Having survived 80's New York without a single mugging, we were relieved of our own passport during a trip to Johannesburg, even wearing it around the neck and under a shirt.
Theft can happen no matter what precautions you take, which is why we suggest keeping a photocopy of your passport in a separate location from the real one when you're traveling. We were certainly glad to have our xerox copy handy in Johannesburg.