How to protect your travel documents? How to secure them and yourself against loss? Here are some practical tips!
Travel documents are (next to money) the most important thing, that we need while going abroad and their loss can make us really stressed. How to protect your travel documents and provide you with safe and relaxing holidays?
The following tips will certainly help everyone who goes on a longer trip (although I’d already count it from one week minimum) and outside Europe, but that doesn’t mean they will be useless for those who want to spend a weekend in one of the European cities. Of course match your needs for the protection of documents with the character of your journey (at the end you will not need your vaccination booklet in Paris…)
However, don’t ignore threats – our bag with documents can be stolen both during the long backpacking trip somewhere in the tropics and during short trip in Europe.
So how to protect your travel documents to avoid staying without them somewhere at the end of the world or the Old Continent?
What documents should I take?
The essential travel documents are:
– Passport, visa
– ID card
– Driving license
– Credit cards
– Insurance documents (including contact numbers to the insurance company)
– European Health Insurance Card (EHIC; for European Union citizens only)
– Vaccination booklet
– Any printed reservations, especially flights
– Important numbers and contact addresses (for instance: to the bank, the embassy)
Where to keep your documents?
I know that you know. Never on top, never in one place, never keep the money together with the documents… But sometimes we forget, just like Nomadic Matt put his passport in the pocket in front of his seat. And he forgot it. Never ever put your documents somewhere else than your own bag or jacket.
Where to keep documents / copies of documents depends on you. Many people like flat hidden pouches hidden under clothing (you can see here how many types of them exists!), or if you are traveling with two backpacks – large and small held in front of you – so keep the documents in the smaller one, that is always in your sight.
If you have any other ideas – share them in the comments below the text!
Wherever you keep the documents, I recommend to close them extra in a waterproof bag.
Should you make copies of documents?
Personally, I think it’s a good idea to make backups of documents, however some people reckon that if a copy is stolen, our data can be used by someone to take a loan for example. Well, true, but it can happen also if someone stole our original documants (like last time, it turned out that the terrorists of the Islamic State travel around the world using stolen passports of citizens of Western countries) – and they are just as vulnerable as copies to get into the wrong hands. What is worse, we can not let to not having them.
However, I know few people who had copies of personal documents when they original passport got lost and backups helped them to speed up the process of making new documents. Even the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of various countries recommend making two copies – one to take with you, and the other one to leave at home to someone who will be contacted in emergency situations.
And if you are traveling with a companion that… make three copies and exchange with each other the two copies and leave at home the third one.
Remember to never keep backups with the originals!!! (Would that make any sense?)
PS. I’ve also met with the question if it’s better to make copies in color or black and white. At various international forums I’ve read different opinions about that issue. Some claim that a color copy speeds up the process of making a new document, and others, that in many countries it is forbidden to have color copies of identity documents. Both informations are not confirmed.
Do you keep backups on the Internet?
Dropbox, cloud, e-mail box … There are many ways to store documents on the Internet and they seem very tempting, especially at a time when we can find an internet café with the printer behind every corner. But…
What happens if someone breaks into our mailbox? I’ve heard a story from my friend that she got an email from one of her friends. That girl asked for financial support because she was robbed and she needed money. It turned out that someone broke into that girl’s mailbox and sent this email to all people from the contact list. For my friend it was very suspicious but some people were taken in.
This case shows that it is better not to keep copies on the mailbox, because you never know who will get to it.
Dropbox has an option of double protection, which means that you’ll get the access code by text message. If you are using a local sim card for the internet, remember to change your contact number in Dropbox for the local one, or take 2 mobiles with you. 😉
And if we are going to keep the backups in the cloud, remember to protect them with very long and complicated password.
Another option is to contact our person, which has our copies of the documents, ask to send them via email (and delete the email after printing the papers). To make sure that we write for help, let’s set the emergency password before leaving, which only we know and we have determined that we use it only when we really need help. Make the password quite absurd. For example “Mom, send me money, I’ve been robbed. Poodle! “(Veal, dunes, aspirin or whatever you make 😛 )
Should I give the authority to someone?
Before leaving make sure in our bank, what do you need to block the card. The identity card number? Or maybe just the usual command made when calling the bank? If you need any documents, it is better to give the authority to our emergency person who will block the card for us in case of being stolen or lost and the contact with the bank is more difficult from the place of our stay.
Someone may think I’m crazy – so much work before going for a holidays? Perhaps, but I do not like take an unnecessary risk. True, I’ve never lost my travel documents, but I believe it’s better safe than sorry. I prefer to firmly prepare myself to be safe and always pay special attention to my documents. And I advise you to do the same. But let’s not panic First of all, remember to enjoy the trip, and don’t stress too much. 🙂
Or maybe you have some other tips how to protect your travel documents? Share them with us in the comments box below!
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