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House keys are a strange item for me to deal with when traveling. You need to take so you can lock up, and you need them when you return, but for the whole trip they are unneeded. So unlike credit cards or ID, there's no good reason to carry them on your person while away from your hotel.

So, what's the best thing to do with keys? I have no set place I store them. Sometimes it's in my suitcase mesh, sometimes in a backpack pocket. In both cases they are loose and tend to shift around a lot. What's a better way to store them to keep them safe and out of the way for the trip?

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Bury or otherwise hide them in the garden. –  gerrit Jul 10 '13 at 10:04
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9 Answers

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This is a great question which probably applies to everyone. The obvious thing is to start with a minimal set of keys. Only take those you absolutely need to get back in.

Although they are not needed everyday, I do keep with me almost at all times. The reasoning is that they are required to get home, just like a passport, only the latter must be used first. If the keys were stolen or lost, it would be more than troublesome to get back in.

In places with a hotel safe, you can keep them in there with your passport instead but I find the best is to keep habits. If you always carry a keychain at time, then you can easily keep doing so abroad.

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This seems to make the most sense for me. I will have to figure out the logistics of how best to keep keys on me with my travel setup. –  flighttime Jul 10 '13 at 15:54
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I leave my car at airport valet parking, and I leave the house key on the key chain that stays in the ignition of the car. You might think that's crazy, but I live over 90 minutes (at 120 km/hr) from the airport, and it's a very determined thief who will go all that way in the hope my house has something good in it. I never worry about losing my house or car key while I'm away and I know no matter what happens, I can get home.

I don't mean the $20/hr jump-out-at-arrivals valet, but rather off-airport shuttle-bus-supported parking where they bring your car to the building after you get off the shuttle. It's only marginally more expensive than other off-airport parking and for me, the convenience is worth it. The key thing is part of that convenience.

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I made an aluminum light copy of the key and kept in my wallet. When I travel I keep my keychain at home. I use the spare key when I'm back to open the door and then put it back in my wallet to rest in peace till the next trip. This spare key is also useful in case I lose my keys or I lock myself out. I also keep a spare key with one of my relatives as a last resort when I lose all my copies or in case of emergencies and I need someone to access my place when I am away.

In some cases when I drive to the airport, I take the keychain and keep it in the car and take only the car keys with me.

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Good idea for the light aluminum copy. –  flighttime Jul 10 '13 at 15:55
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I only need two items to get back into my place: proximity fob for the entrance and elevators, and a key for my front door.

When travelling I leave all my other keys at home and just take these two items. My bag has a small zip pocket, and as soon as I leave I put them in there until I return home.

I'm fortunate in that it's cheaper for me to get a taxi to and from the airport than it is to park there, so I don't have any car keys to contend with! :)

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If it's a short trip of up to a two or three weeks, I just keep them in the same place I usually keep them, which for me is my pocket.

If it's a trip of at least a month, then I'll consider using hotel room safes, or just leaving them in my luggage. For longer trips like this, I usually make some arrangement anyway with someone back home to water potplants, collect mail and the like, so if I lose my keys it's inconvenient but I won't be locked out.

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Personally I'm often using my travels between moving house - it means I'm not paying rent while I'm travelling ;) So it means no keys during that time.

However, for shorter trips - even a weekend away, I'll usually just keep them on me, or in the same pocket in my day pack that I keep padlock keys. That way it's still almost always on me.

Other options I could suggest:

  • leave them with a neighbour, or friend - the downside being if you return at midnight, you have to wake them to get the keys
  • hide a spare key in a secret place in your garden somewhere - NOT under the doormat or in a flowerpot (it's a cliche now but I still see it happening among my friends), and preferably not near the door.
  • if you live in an apartment the last one may be harder, but often there's an apartment garden, or if you have a front desk / concierge, consider asking them if they'll look after it (if you trust them).
  • consider a storage unit somewhere at the airport / train station, depending on the convenience and/or cost
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If you're travelling between moving house, don't you have some storage space somewhere to which you'd have a key? Or do you take all your personal possessions with you when you travel? –  gerrit Jul 10 '13 at 10:05
    
I have some in storage in NZ, the rest I send ahead or move with me. –  Mark Mayo Jul 10 '13 at 11:06
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A possible solution is to leave them to the relative who will be in charge to feed the cat and to water the plants.

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I figure whatever else you do with one set, leave a second set with a trusted friend or neighbor, so if you're robbed or something, you can still get in when you make it home. –  Yamikuronue Jul 10 '13 at 16:20
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I keep one key in my desk at work and carry one key with me. It always goes into one of the pockets in my backpacks and stays put through out the journey. If there aren't too many airport security check points in the trip, I hang it around my neck. Ain't no way it goes missing from there.

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We always leave our house keys with either a neighbor or a family member living nearby, in case of both short and long trips.

The rationale being that :

  • They can regularly check the house and take action in case of robberies.
  • In case of fires, they can easily open up the house preventing the need for any further damage (breaking doors or windows)
  • Check if that item you misplaced is actually back home or not.
  • In case of relatively long trips, you could ask them to have your house cleaned and plants watered, etc.

I had always assumed this was the protocol. I am pretty surprised to see that the answers here suggest entirely the opposite.

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This strategy depends on proximity to family or a relationship with neighbors. Those who are frequently on the road or moving might not have a neighbor they trust. –  flighttime Jul 12 '13 at 15:19
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