Planning for a vacation is one of the most exciting times! The planning part is only slightly less exciting than actually going on the trip. Maybe we are not the right people to ask though, after all, we love it so much we made a career out of it. What to see, where to eat, which sights are the best to fit in on a rainy day, which are open late. Where the must visit cocktail spots are, we love it all! But there are a few important details that are not as much about researching the social networks, and are more just important data. Travel documents are a big one. 

Are they all in order? What do you actually need to bring with you? What should you carry on you every day when you are out, and what should you leave in the safe at the hotel room?

Don’t worry, we are here to help. Here’s a list of everything you need, plus practical tips on how to keep everything organized, safe, and accessible.

The golden ticket: your passport

This is the big one. Make sure it hasn’t expired. Equally make sure it won’t be expiring within six months of your travel.  And don’t forget passports for your kid(s)!

Most countries, and even international airlines, won’t let you in if your passport will be expiring within the next six months, so plan accordingly.

Look into any visas that you will need that can be acquired in advance, including those for countries you’ll only be traveling through. If you can’t get a visa in advance, bring the letter from the consulate stating that your visa will be granted upon your arrival (the UAE and Oman are two countries that don’t issue visas outside their countries, for example).

Obviously many countries don’t require any arranging for visas as many frequently traveled countries have visas upon arrivals for a set number of days standard for United States citizens, but it is important to check just in case, or if you are planning for a longer trip than offered upon arrival. 

A copy of the picture page of your passport, and extra passport photos. Are always good to have. Take a photo of your picture page, and any important visas and keep it in a safe place in your phone as well as a paper copy. 

In many countries you are better off using the photocopy of your passport or the image on your phone should you need it, and keeping your actual passport safely at your hotel. (Those things are no fun at all to try to replace on vacation.) 

However, in some countries you are legally required to keep your passport on your person at all times, so it is important to know the law in your destinations to avoid hassle. 

Your airline miles card

This is another one that is perhaps easier to just keep in a safe place in your phone. If you prefer the physical card it is up to you, but for most, a copy in your phone is just fine. It could be beneficial to start a “travel documents” folder on your phone for easy access.

A copy of your itinerary

You might be surprised how often customs, airline staff, and various other official figures want to see proof that you intend to leave the country and know how you will be leaving already. 

Once again, a copy on your phone is generally fine, but a printed copy can be quite nice to have as well. 

Originals and paper copies of your tickets (plane, train, bus, etc.) and confirmation numbers (hotel reservations, car rental, etc.) and all contact info for these companies.

This falls under the motto of “better safe than sorry”. If you only have them on your phone, you should be fine, but a printed copy has been known to save a lot of hassle on many a trip. 

Travel insurance card and accompanying information

Just in case something goes wrong and you are in a pinch, these details can be absolutely worth their weight in gold.

Guidebooks (if you use them) and maps

Some people love a good physical book to read or a map on paper. If this is you, then by all means bring them with. A guidebook is a great resource to thumb through while you are relaxing in bed at the end of the day and deciding on any last minute additions to your itinerary. 

Just try to avoid being the tourist carrying it in your hand around the city or with a full cookie sheet sized map in front of you on a busy street corner. It can attract unwanted attention.

Your international driver’s license

These are indispensable, and often rental agencies will not even talk to you if you forget it at home when you arrive to pick up your car. 

Contact info your in case of emergency person

Don’t forget the numbers of the consulates where you’ll be staying. All these numbers can be stored in your phone, as well — simply designate a consistent label for them (like “France 2017”) for easy access, and they can be easily deleted when your trip is done.

Copies — front and back — of any credit cards you’ll be taking with you. This way even if you lose the card you know the number to dial to quickly cancel and reorder your card. Or quickly book anything online before you do if you are in a pinch. 

Your Yellow (Immunization) Card

When you’ve assembled all the essential travel documents/copies, the first thing you should do is check to make sure your name appears the same on all documents. This may seem like a small thing, but it can be a big hassle during travel if your names don’t match.

In addition, you covid vaccine card. Without it, you may not even make it out of your local airport anymore. 

Scan travel documents and send them in an email to yourself and to your emergency contact(s)

This is especially important if you are going on a more adventurous trip, big hikes, or aren’t sure what your itinerary is. 

In addition, you can carry a memory card with encrypted copies of all these images — so even if it gets stolen, no one could access the documents without the master password. You can keep this memory card in a tiny, discreet pocket, along with some extra cash — an absolute last resort in the extremely rare event that you lose everything.

Choose a family member or close friend who will be your representative while you’re away and who can have access to major accounts if needed. This way, you have a trustworthy contact available anytime, and there is someone who always knows where you are.

Store copies of your major travel documents (passports, tickets, reservations, etc.) in a waterproof plastic zip bag and in a separate piece of luggage from the originals. If you have one. It’s stressful enough to have your passport stolen — but having it stolen from the same bag where all the copies are is even worse. When you’re out sightseeing, always carry the essential documents on your person, ideally in a waterproof carrier that can be worn under your clothing.

Once you get all this info in order, you can travel with confidence, knowing you’re covered in the event of the unexpected. And — bonus! — you’ll have laid the groundwork for future trips.

Ready to plan the vacation of a lifetime?

If you’re in the planning stages of your next vacation, we’re here to help! Planning can be stressful work to make sure you’re getting the best deal and booking the best experience. Let us take the stress out of planning so your entire vacation experience can be positive and stress-free! Get in touch with us and let’s get planning!

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