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question about passport.

carl2591

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my daughter is heading to europe with school related trip with in the spring.
her passport was renewed last year and i noticed it has the rfd chip.. i had a couple questions about

1. security of passport. They will be traveling from US to Frankfurt airport in germany, then to switzerland & austria coming back to Frankfurt to fly out to DC. I am guessing they will need passports when changing countries. What or how is the best way to make sure the Passport stays safe. suggestions please.

2. the personal data and emergency contact info in the passport. should you fill that part out completely or not. The group will be traveling with 2 school staff that are fluent in german. again suggestions please.

3. she will not be traveling with cell phone or computer as requested by group leader.. she will have a digital camera and i am sure someone will have a laptop, iPad or something that can be use to up load pictures. Were is best place to put pictures so if camera get stolen, lost etc to have them plus so we can see them as well..

4. Best way to get money or have some way to buy stuff etc. credit card, atm card??

She is getting exicited about the trip as are we..

i appericate your input. :D
 

DeniseM

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3. she will not be traveling with cell phone or computer as requested by group leader..
This does not seem safe to me. I'm not sure I would go along with this...
 

Passepartout

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1) don't worry excessively about the rfid on in the passport. In Europe, everyone carries them, and doesn't seem too concerned. If you are, wrap it in foil. Once in Europe, crossing boarders is like crossing State lines in the USA. A non-event. Sometimes ID (passport) is needed to get cash, and always for airline boarding & hotel check-in.
2) fill out that in pencil.
3) Have her periodically upload photos to a picture hosting service like picasa or similar.
4)Yes. Cash, ATM, CC.

Have her photograph her 1st (info)pages of her passport and front and back (close-ups) of her ATM and CC and email them to herself at a webmail address- like gmail or Yahoo. Then, if anything turns up missing she can get copies from any computer. Not a bad idea to have paper copies of the above, packed in the bottom of her suitcase, but might be overkill.

She'll come home a different person with wider horizons.

Jim
 

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1. She will need to show a passport for the flight out and return, and likely at hotel check-ins.
She will not need it for border crossings. The Schengen treaty created a 26-country borderless zone.

There are RFID blocking passport holders. Check out this one from Amazon --
http://www.amazon.com/Passport-Protection-Block-Boarding-Pouch/dp/B005UNOHWY

It would be a good idea for her to carry a photocopy in another place.
The same with her DL, any debit-ATM and CC's.

2. Fill-in the personal and emergency contact information.
Unlikely as it may be, it never hurts to have this in case some calamity occurs.

3. She might try to upload nightly to an online album storage service. But if not possible...
Buy several digital cards and change them out every few days. Store them in carry-on luggage.

4. She should use a debit-ATM card to get Euros locally.
Credit cards should be used only for significant purchases (not for a cash advance).
When using a CC, do not let the merchant convert the charge to USD --
... the card-issuer gives a better exchange rate than the merchant.

You may want to buy her some Euros to have in her pocket upon landing.
I like to order some from Wells Fargo -- https://www.wellsfargo.com/foreignexchange/
 
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carl2591

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This does not seem safe to me. I'm not sure I would go along with this...
i hear you on that.. We are having a parent, student , teacher meeting about the trip coming up in the next week or so and i was going to ask about that my self. I would like to at least get a phone for use.. i understand about the laptop, they are easy to loose or get legs and walk off.. something like an iPad is easy enough to keep on you.

she has a blackberry but not sure if unlocked. I know it easy enough to get sim cards in europe for phone.
 

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If she has the discipline to leave it alone, just activate int'l calling on her regular phone with the understanding that calls are $1 a minute or more and it's for REAL emergencies only. Hard for a youngster. That's probably the reason the trip leader has said- no cell phones. Experience. The group leader will have emergency contacts all nailed down anyway.

Jim
 

carl2591

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If she has the discipline to leave it alone, just activate int'l calling on her regular phone with the understanding that calls are $1 a minute or more and it's for REAL emergencies only. Hard for a youngster. That's probably the reason the trip leader has said- no cell phones. Experience. The group leader will have emergency contacts all nailed down anyway.

Jim
thanks jim
good to know.. :ponder:
 

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Why all the tin foil hat RFID comments? She asked about security of the passport not some wacko theory about RFID. The safest place to carry a passport in a holder under your clothing. Once you've entered Europe the best place is in the hotel safe.

She also should be aware that her ATM and credit cards need to be chip and pin, if they aren't she should upgrade them immediately to avoid hassles when using them.

If she has a GSM phone it is also possible to buy a pay as you go SIM card once she reaches Europe. There are two advantages to this. 1) It's cheaper and 2) she is in control of how much she spends. If she buys €30 of calls the phone will cut her off at €30. No €500 bill when she gets home...
 

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Is this a high school trip? If so, I'd expect the leader to hold all the passports. High school students are used to getting regulations waived if they smile and speak politely; in the real world, immigration authorities don't work like that when you tell them "oh, I must have lost it".

If it's a high school trip, the "no cell phone" request is probably a combination of not wanting to be responsible for loss of phones, not wanting to be blamed for enormous bills, and wanting kids to pay attention to what they're seeing. I think a cheap GSM phone that stays in the backpack would be a good idea in case of separation from group, etc.

If this is a college trip, they won't have much luck telling the kids to leave their phone home.

If you don't have a computer, you won't have much chance to upload! And if there are 15 kids and one computer, you still won't have time to do it. You can either go the ONE BIG CARD route, and trust the camera won't goof it up and that you won't lose the camera, or the MANY LITTLE CARDS route, and change them every other day or so.
 

x3 skier

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Good luck trying to get a chip and pin card in the USA. While they may be required at non attended kiosks, small shops in the small towns, etc. regular old swipe cards are ok in most places.

Since upload of photos without a laptop may be problematic, get a bunch of SD or whatever cards and swap them out every couple of days. Might even mail them home so mom and dad can get a early look see although she might be home before they get there. ;)

Cheers
 

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I second the debit card suggestion. Open a small bank account in her name and get an ATM card for her use. Don't put a lot of money in the account; in case there is a problem, your loss would be limited to the amount of money in that account and would not be linked to your other bank accounts. The ATM is definitely the best way to get money; be sure you have only a 4 digit pin number.

I also agree that the best place to carry a passport is in a holder under clothing. I sent my children to Europe when they were teens and felt that the experience (and managing their own money and passports) was valuable. As a former high school teacher, I can't imagine collecting the students' passports; they are old enough to take that responsibility. In my opinion, any student not responsible enough to do that should wait until next year to go.
 

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we have a phone I ordered off of telestial.com. It's the passport lite. It was $30 or so. Calls to US are about $1/minute, but calls to the phone are free in many countries and checking voicemail was free. It is a prepaid phone that you can load and go and do not need to attach a credit card---so if it's lost/stolen, you only lose the $ you loaded on it. This is one of the only plans that you do'nt have to have a CC attached---a big piece of mind. If your phone is lost/stolen, you are responsible for the bill until it is OFFICIALLY reported to the cell phone company--if that is hours or days later, you can have a big bill from fraud. I did not want to risk it. We load $25 before we leave and then load as we need. We have used it on 4 European trips, just for our quick check on the parents/kids/ etc. It is very easy to work and we were glad to have it. I would ask if she could take that, as an EM phone. I think if you explain that it is a special phone and it is only for this trip and she will NOT be texting, calling friends, etc., they might think it is OK. Elaine
 
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Davidr

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If she has the discipline to leave it alone, just activate int'l calling on her regular phone with the understanding that calls are $1 a minute or more and it's for REAL emergencies only. Hard for a youngster. That's probably the reason the trip leader has said- no cell phones. Experience. The group leader will have emergency contacts all nailed down anyway.

Jim
This will only work if the phone is from ATT or Tmobile. If it is from Verizon or sprint it will not work in Europe. The cell phone standard in Europe is GSM, Verizon is CDMA.

Personally, I would not send my child on a trip like this without a cell phone. Of course I'm paranoid and would have them text me every 4hours to make sure they are ok.
 

PigsDad

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Personally, I would not send my child on a trip like this without a cell phone. Of course I'm paranoid and would have them text me every 4hours to make sure they are ok.
So are you saying that you would have never sent a child of yours on a trip like this 15 years ago?

I'm not picking on you, but I hear this type of statement all the time: "I wouldn't let my child do (fill in the blank) w/o a cell phone". What has really changed since 15 years ago when that would not have been a general practicability? I think there were still youth and school trips back then. And somehow people survived them w/o being in contact with their parents every 4 hours. Oh my! :rolleyes:

And if you say the world is a more dangerous place, please provide proof. From every statistic I have seen, overall crime is down since 15-20 years ago (and in some areas, down significantly).

Kurt
 

AKE

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1. security of passport. They will be traveling from US to Frankfurt airport in germany, then to switzerland & austria coming back to Frankfurt to fly out to DC. I am guessing they will need passports when changing countries. What or how is the best way to make sure the Passport stays safe. suggestions please.

ANSWER: A passport is only required when you enter an EU country the first time. Subsequent travel by car or bus will not required showing a passport when you change countries as there are no border checkpoints anymore between the countries that she will be visiting. If you take a train you may get border officials coming onboard and asking for passports as the train crosses a border.

2. the personal data and emergency contact info in the passport. should you fill that part out completely or not. The group will be traveling with 2 school staff that are fluent in german. again suggestions please.

ANSWER: The majority of people in the countries that she will be travelling to will have some knowledge of English. We have been in all those countries and have never had any problems getting by with English alone. I would always fill out the personal data and emergency contact info... I don't know why not? If something happens and she has her passport then it will be much easier for everyone involved if they know who to call, etc. (or if the passport gets lost)

3. she will not be traveling with cell phone or computer as requested by group leader.. she will have a digital camera and i am sure someone will have a laptop, iPad or something that can be use to up load pictures. Were is best place to put pictures so if camera get stolen, lost etc to have them plus so we can see them as well..

ANSWER: I wouldn't worry about a camera being stolen unless it is a very expensive one.... you are more likely to get pick-pocketed in certain countries (but once again, the countries that she is visiting are quite safe). I would carry a memory stick and put a copy of the pictures onto the memory stick (via a computer). This is what we do.

4. Best way to get money or have some way to buy stuff etc. credit card, atm card??

ANSWER: NEVER NEVER NEVER use an ATM card... you might as well leave your bank account wide open as there is unlimited liability on an ATM card (and they can literally clear out your bank account before you realize it). A credit card has minimal ($50) no liability associated with it. What I would do is put some money on the credit card that she can then withdraw from. We do it all the time in Europe without any problems. Last year we were in Frankfurt and I only used my credit card ONCE and that was to pay my hotel bill at the Meridien (my husband used his for the rest of our expenditures). Six weeks later I had a $700 charge for a GPS that I had supposedly bought in Frankfurt. With a credit card it was easy to dispute the charge... if I had used an ATM card I would have been out of luck.
 

Magic1962

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I take youth every three years to Tanzania, Africa for mission work, If your daughter is not 18 you will also have to have a notarized guardianship paper for health reasons, doctor, hospital and dentist.... Also make sure she has group medical insurance.... We actually get medical evacuation coverage while in Africa, but that's a whole other subject....Also if she is going to be using a credit card INFORM the Credit Company or it will be blocked.....
 
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Talent312

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Sorry, but I take issue with these statements:

NEVER NEVER NEVER use an ATM card... you might as well leave your bank account wide open as there is unlimited liability on an ATM card...
With an old-style generic ATM card, perhaps, but most these days, most banks issue VISA or MasterMoney branded debit-cards. These have zero-liability protection and when a fraudulent transaction is reported, the $$ is returned pending investigation.

From the VISA website:
When you sign for your purchases (or use a PIN), your money comes directly from your checking account, but you also get security protections that help prevent, detect and resolve fraud, including:
-- Visa's Zero Liability Policy which protects you from unauthorized charges. Any funds taken from your account due to fraudulent use will be returned to you.
-- Fraud monitoring to detect and prevent suspicious activity on your debit card
-- Access to Identity Theft Assistance to help you recover your identity and prevent further problems.


HOWEVER, on a CC, fraudulent transations only increase your bill, but with a debit card, $$ comes out of the bank account -- until its reported. So, it is a good idea to limit exposure by limiting its use to getting cash and to tie it to separate low-balance account.

... What I would do is put some money on the credit card that she can then withdraw from.
Many issuers have have policies prohibiting over-paying to create a credit. Even if your bank allows it, you need to be careful not to overdraw the credit, or you will be hit with cash advance fees and interest from the date of the transaction.

With a credit card it was easy to dispute the charge... if I had used an ATM card I would have been out of luck.
With a VISA or MasterMoney branded debit card, you can dispute any transaction and your $$ will be returned pending investigation.
 
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Ken555

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Ironically, I find using an ATM card abroad to be the easiest way to obtain local currency. When I was a student and more concerned about safety I had an ankle pouch that held money and passport... These days I just keep track of it carefully, just like a wallet. Common sense will get you far, especially in Europe.
 

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Definitely get a "travel ATM/visa or travel ATM/mastercard" from your bank. It is safe because it is not linked to your main account and it provides the convenience of an ATM, which we've found to be the easiest way to get cash in foreign countries. Since it is from your bank, if the need should arise, you can always transfer more money into it for her--or transfer money out of it should she call you and say it's been lost. She can, of course, always use it as a credit card but even though it will appear to be a credit card transaction, it will function as a debit card and the payment will be made instantly.

For a traveler's peace of mind, they are wonderful. I've even started carrying mine here--I like having a card that wouldn't clean out my regular account if lost/stolen.
 

AKE

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Sorry, but I take issue with these statements:



With an old-style generic ATM card, perhaps, but most these days, most banks issue VISA or MasterMoney branded debit-cards. These have zero-liability protection and when a fraudulent transaction is reported, the $$ is returned pending investigation.

From the VISA website:
When you sign for your purchases (or use a PIN), your money comes directly from your checking account, but you also get security protections that help prevent, detect and resolve fraud, including:
-- Visa's Zero Liability Policy which protects you from unauthorized charges. Any funds taken from your account due to fraudulent use will be returned to you.
-- Fraud monitoring to detect and prevent suspicious activity on your debit card
-- Access to Identity Theft Assistance to help you recover your identity and prevent further problems.


HOWEVER, on a CC, fraudulent transations only increase your bill, but with a debit card, $$ comes out of the bank account -- until its reported. So, it is a good idea to limit exposure by limiting its use to getting cash and to tie it to separate low-balance account.

Here is another downside that I went through using a Canadian ATM card in Connecticut (and that is why I would never use an ATM except locally, even in Canada). I used a bank ATM and everything seemed to go properly but it took a bit longer than normal (maybe 10 seconds). I got the money and the receipt. When I got home I saw that the transaction had gone through my account twice even though I had only made one withdrawal, entered my PIN once etc. It took six months and me threatening to call the press and get lawyers involved before the bank would refund me the money. The Canadian bank said that it was the US ATM's problem and the US ATM said that it was the Canadian bank's job to verify what had happened. Turned out that IT WAS A MILLI-SECOND ELECTRONIC BLIP that caused the banking machine to show 2 withdrawals whereas only one had been made. With a credit card no issue as the charge is disputed and the money refunded... with an ATM my account was out $1000 (where it only should have been $500) and if I had not been as persistent I would never had got the money back. Can you imagine trying to fight something like this overseas in a language that you can't speak?
On a similar note I used my credit card twice in Frankfurt, Germany this past summer - once to withdraw money from a bank and the other to pay my hotel bill at the Meridien (my husband used his card for the other expenses). After I got home I had a $700 GPS purchase on my credit card from Frankfurt which I obviously had never made. All it took was one call to Master Card and my account was credited (And I also had to sign and send in a form). I know which one I would use.
 

AKE

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Quote:
... What I would do is put some money on the credit card that she can then withdraw from.

Many issuers have have policies prohibiting over-paying to create a credit. Even if your bank allows it, you need to be careful not to overdraw the credit, or you will be hit with cash advance fees and interest from the date of the transaction."


I have never heard of a bank objecting to a person overpaying as the bank has the advantage (i.e. they have the use of your money) and this definitely is not the case in Canada.

Re a cahs advance on a crefit card, I have never had a cash advance fee (including all charges) be more than $5 (and usually its on the $3 range). Even interest on a $1000 cash advance at 18.9% interest is in the neighbourhood of $15 for a month (or $3.75 a week!). This is pretty cheap insurance as a cup of coffee in Europe is $7 and up.
 

sfwilshire

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Ironically, I find using an ATM card abroad to be the easiest way to obtain local currency.
Just make sure your ATM card is active and have a backup.

This was my plan when we went to Canada two years ago since it had worked so well in the UK on another trip. I called the bank a week or so before my trip to make sure my ATM card was still good (I almost never use it at home) and to notify them that I would be out of the country on certain dates.

The first time I tried to get money with the ATM card, it was declined. Luckily, it was Canada and it was not too costly to just exchange some US dollars for Canadian. Also a lot of businesses would just take the US dollars and the exchange rate was close to par, so we weren't losing much. We don't spend a lot of cash anyway, preferring to use credit cards, so it was just an annoyance.

When I got home and called my bank, however, I was pretty mad. They had coincidentally had a regular check of all ATM cards and put a block on any that had no activity for the past six months. I pointed out my phone call and how inexcusable that was under the circumstances.

Maybe my chat worked with them. I hadn't used my card in 1 1/2 years but needed some case unexpectedly yesterday and the card worked.

Sheila
 
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