Meet My Antique Passport Holder

Filed Under: Travel

I’ve often received requested from readers asking for a post about what’s in my carry-ons. It’s something I should get around to doing, though I’m afraid it’s probably not very exciting. However, there’s something I figured I should share first, since a seatmate commented on this recently, and I didn’t realize just how ridiculous it may look.

I’m not the least bit materialistic, at least using the definition of “excessively concerned with the acquisition of material possessions.” I have a few travel gadgets that make my life better, but other than that there’s nothing material you can get that will make me happy. Don’t get me wrong, I like nice experiences, but physical things do nothing for me. They just clutter my life.

As a result my philosophy when it comes to material possessions is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I don’t remember the last time I’ve been clothes shopping, and I realize that’s a problem. The other week Ford finally forced me to throw out a shirt that had about half a dozen holes in it.

That philosophy also extends to my passport holder. Over a decade ago United had the Silver Wings Plus program, which offered a bunch of bonus miles for signing up, along with a few other things, like a passport holder. The program was discontinued in 2005, and I signed up before that. I started using the passport holder at the time… and use it to this day.

The crazy part? I don’t think I’ve ever considered replacing it. That’s despite the fact that the leather is constantly peeling and chipping, and every few days I have to take a damp cloth through my carry-on to wipe it all up.

Recently I was on a flight and was getting something out of my passport holder, and my seatmate glared at it, and commented on how my passport holder is basically an antique.

So, just how bad does it look?

In case anyone is wondering what I keep in here, it holds my passports, recent boarding passes, excess (non-credit) cards, and the foreign cash I’ve accumulated. I should probably find a better place for cash, since I doubt I’ll be using my currency from Bahrain, Bhutan, Nepal, Kuwait, etc., anytime soon.

So, I guess I should ask — can anyone recommend a new passport holder that also stores a bunch of other stuff? 😉

  1. I use one from tanner leather. It also holds two passports (including the kinda beefy German one), has a few slots for cards, and extra places to tuck money or boarding passes. And the leather won’t flake all over your bag

  2. I really like the Tumi Camden Passport Case, and it’s on sale right now. It has 7 credit/loyalty card slots, 2 slip pockets you can fit your money in, a section for your boarding pass and passport. Best of all, it’s genuine leather that really seems to be lasting well, with age, and the whole thing is RFID protected so people can’t steal your card information.

  3. That looks like it has been put through a washing machine several times.

    Bellroy make great passport wallets.

    Since moving from Australia to London a year ago I’ve become far less materialistic. I moved over with about 70kgs of possessions (thanks to flying EF F here!) but since then have got rid of a lot of stuff. I do invest in items that I use regularly such as overnight bag, laptop, universal adapter etc because the few things I do use a lot need to be practical, durable and good quality. I am now moving into peak minimalism standardising my clothes – whereas I now have 20 or so completely different t-shirts that I don’t wear that often I realised I wear a certain style of t-shirt all the time so am going to replace my 20 different t0-shirts with 8 or so of the same t-shirt just in different colours.

    I also prefer experiences to possessions – if I won a new luxury car I would immediately sell it and put the money towards travel.

    I would be very keen to a post about what is in and how you pack your hand luggage complete with posts – I don’t know how it would not be interesting!

  4. Concur with EJG239…I love my Tumi case as well as my Tumi wallet. Especially the RFID protection.

  5. Why not donate the spare currency that you dont have any foreseeable use for? Presumably these are small amounts in each currency that wouldn’t be worth converting to something more useful. Wouldn’t this meet your definition of clutter?

    I’m sure you’re aware that many airlines will collect donations in any currency on international flights.

  6. You’re not going to throw away the passport holder once you get a new one, are you? That belongs in a museum! Because like you said, it’s an antique… plus you are kinda famous 🙂
    so I think it belongs in a more special place than a rubbish bin.

  7. I would feel really ashamed to fly on a 5000$ first class flight and take out that passport holder from my bag. Well probably even on a 30€ Ryanair flight.

  8. +1 to the Victorinox “travel organizer”. Have had one for many years and that is always ready for a trip. My passports, foreign currency, Priority pass card, etc… is always there.

  9. Ben, I highly recommend the Bellroy Travel Wallet:

    Deep pocket (with divider) fits full boarding passes and all currency sizes, it has 6 “slots” for cards, which I manage to fit about 5 or 6 individual cards in each slot, a full passport slot, a mini-pen for filling out landing cards, a SIM card pocket, and fits (even full) relatively well into a back pocket.

    The leather is fantastic and soft (Australian sheep I believe) — I carry mine every day, even when not travelling! Also available with RFID if you are so inclined…

  10. How about something from Smythson? They also have a great sale on at the moment

    PS. If anyone is flying through Heathrow, they actually deduct the VAT (20%) from all items (sale and non sale) irrespective of destination.

  11. @ Marco – The point of a First class ticket is so you can show up one minute before they close the aircraft door, wearing muddy sneakers and a backpack generously covered with dust. Then you say Krug when they ask which bubbly you prefer, and most importantly you don’t care about what anybody thinks. That’s the first class state of mind, which happens to be backed up by the first class state of your wallet.

    As far as the wallet goes, the only requirement is that it’s filled with money.

  12. I use the Bellroy as others have indicated, and I like it. It’s sleek, looks good and has everything I need. I should note that it might be a little small carrying two large passports (those with the extra 50 pages), though two normal will be fine, one normal and one large might be okay. There isn’t a ton of space for cards but I think it fits 8-10 fair easily.

  13. I remember when your passport case was new. LAX Red Carpet Club in 2007 you pulled out your red card from the same case!

  14. I see you have an Oyster Card (for London’s transport system). I’m curious, do you have any other public transit cards on which you keep balances? I do that for cities I tend to visit one or more times a year. In addition to my Oyster card, I have Clipper (SFO), Metro (NYC) and Ventra (CHI) cards, always with at least enough on them to get from the airport to downtown. In the case of the Oyster card, I find it is also a convenient way to not have to take coins home from a trip as I just load the value on before coming home.

  15. I collect money from every country I visited. I don’t think I have enough room in my wallet. I stick them on my white board in my office at home every time I return.
    The first board completly filled! Am on my second board now

  16. Ok see This is what happens when you start staying at assisted living facilities and try to convince yourself that these accommodations are, in fact, luxury resorts. Gay men simply do not travel in this manner.

    You will IMMEDIATELY go into the nearest Louis Vuitton store and purchase a new one – and all will be forgiven.

  17. @Jack: just wondering why you consider Louis Vuitton vulgar? I got a LV men wallet from my wife as a birthday gift almost 10 years ago. It is the grey and black checkered wallet and not only it looks great in my opinion but it still looks like new after using it every day for almost 10 years.

  18. Lucky, I can’t believe that you’re a mild germaphobe, but then carry around a nasty passport holder that literally falls apart in your luggage.

  19. Second the Victorinox one. I have a similar one they had about a decade ago (redeemed ThankYou points for it) and it’s still going strong. Has numerous pockets to hold all your cards. I’d say go for practicality vs brand.

  20. I’ve been using Bellroy’s passport wallet for a few years now and it’s both functional and very clever(and not inoffensive to the eye), and it has held up incredibly well!

  21. As they say in the car world, “that will buff right out.” Somebody doesn’t like it, that’s a small mind talking (do I sound opinionated ??)

    Keep It, Use It !! It is not until the snap closure fails that you stop using it ….. and then only long enough to get a new snap closure installed.

  22. Mine was a gift from Air France, back in the day when they gave each Concorde passenger some sort of quality souvenir. It has held up extremely well through the years.

  23. Not everything old needs to be thrown away. Here is a lovely quote:

    An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The older she gets the more interested he is in her.
    -Agatha Christie

  24. Louis Vuitton makes a beautiful one where you can monogram your initials too with a cool design. Goes well with your first class travel lifestyle.

    I still cant believe you actually still use that holder thats basically falling apart…

  25. @ Lucky: we, the readers should get creative and send you one, as a thank you gift for your all your good (and not so good) posts! 🙂
    I personally use one from FOSSIL, it´s not a “high end, pretentious” brand but it´s discreet and good quality!
    I´m serious about what I wrote!

  26. I agree with others I use bellroy for both my wallet and passport holder top notch. Great quality and durability.

  27. Is it really an antique passport holder, or just a beat up one? I use my father’s wallet from the 1950s – British notes were much larger in those days, so it’s large enough to hold my passport and other travel essentials.

    Other than that, I don’t have a recommendation for you, because I’m happy to continue to use my vintage passport holder.

  28. I’m with @GT Traveller, I use a Fossil and really love it. The leather still looks like new after about 4 years of use.

  29. Lucky, you and Ford need to register at your favorite luggage/ travel store so that the more generous of your supporters can crowd source wedding gifts for the two of you. U definitely need an organizer, and I’m sure Ford could use a gadget or two, too!

  30. Another vote for the bellroy. I have a similar set of contents. Interesting you carry an oyster, that is the one transit card I don’t carry. Since London transport takes contactless payments I use a contactless credit card with no overseas transaction fee and a good earn rate.

    i wish more cities would go this route.

  31. Your seatmate was rude to comment like that as your belongings are none of his/her business. But you could of course use a replacement.

  32. Absolutely nothing better than a Bellroy wallet, they have 3 options depending on how much you want to carry, even an updated version of your existing wallet. The quality is absolutely premium, the patina they develop with use is just beautiful. They look and feel better after a couple of years use. I swear by them.

  33. Hey there Lucky,
    I use a Smythson travel wallet for my passport, boarding pass, travel documents, and tickets. I also recommend Tumi ID Lock Travel Case it has plenty of card space, can fit many cards, a large place of currency, side pocket for boarding passes, and fully zips around. Best of luck with your new search.

  34. All my leather ones fell apart and couldn’t stand up to my full time travel. This, in Large, is the serious professional passport wallet. Front pocket is designed to fit a boarding pass. I use one for world currency/extra cards and another for my passport and elite cards. Color coding makes this simple. The older model before RFID was better and had more pockets if you can still find it.

  35. It is simply well worn. Proof positive you are well-traveled. Keep on using it and have a safe and happy 4th.

  36. TUMI ID Lock™ Zip Travel Case is the one i use, and its pretty close to what you have now.

  37. Surprised you didn’t collect at the W Hong kong , very nice @Royceleather passport holder ‘W-hotel’ Logo embossed on the outside ,… soooo Lovely

  38. @lucky, I love the Rudsak leather passport holder and often gift it. Particularly love the zipper for the two inside pockets (ideal for cash) as well as the full-length boarding pass pocket. Also, it has a credit card size slot below the passport which is ideal for nexus card! It’s a Montreal based brand and they make quality leather goods.

  39. Looks like it’s unavailable now, but I recently bought this one

    The design is what I wanted in a passport holder.. (tall/wide enough bill holder for Yen notes, visible passport window, visible ID window, and room for a bunch of cards), but interestingly the RFID block is actually a hindrance for me since I found out since it blocks transportation cards in Japan like Suica and Pasmo (although I was expecting it). They didn’t offer a non RFID block model.

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