You’ve seen this recommendation before – from us and many other travel experts – have a copy of your travel documents, but what travel documents are we talking about and how should you carry a copy of your documents?
Before we discuss how this can more easily be accomplished, let’s discuss why having a copy of your travel documents is necessary.
Losing your shoes can be a true hassle on a trip. That loss can even cost you money to replace them, but losing your identification and travel documents is much, much worse for three reasons:
If your passport is stolen in a foreign country where the U.S. embassy is short-staffed or closed for any reason, you could be waiting a long time to get a replacement. With a copy of that document, you can speed up the process.
Next, let’s discuss which documents you should back up or copy.
Since 9/11/2008, security between countries has become tighter and tighter. Authorities at airports, train terminals, and ferry docks have become very strict about proper documentation and whether you’re visiting the U.S. or an American citizen traveling abroad, it’s vital to have those papers on order; however, these aren’t the only documents you should have a copy of on your trip.
Depending on where you are traveling, you’ll want to make 2 printed copies of the following:
You’ll leave one printed copy at home and give one copy to a friend or relative who can be contacted should you need them sent to you. The copy at home is for your next of kin. Not to be morbid, but if you die on this trip, you want them to be able to collect on your travel insurance policy and they’ll need the details to do that.
The other copy is in case you can’t access your electronic copies for some reason, and we’ll talk about that next.
Let’s be honest, not much is done on actual paper these days. You can even apply for a loan with an electronic signature, so the idea of traveling with printed copies is old-school.
Hint: if you do choose the paper route, put one set in a zippered plastic bag (to protect it from moisture) and slide it in your suitcase. Put a second one in your carry-on (zipper bag here is optional).
The new-school way to have a copy of your documents is to scan them and store them electronically.
The idea here is to have electronic copies of your travel documents to save space and aggravation, but remember, these are critical documents and if stolen, they could cause you a lot of harm with identity thieves, so guard them closely. Secure the online documents, and even those you send to your friend, with a password. Be sure your portable devices and laptops are secured with a password as well.
If you can’t get to a computer with a printer or one with Internet access, you can call your friend and have them send the copies by email, fax, or courier to the nearest embassy or to another trusted contact.
Should your passport be lost or stolen while traveling abroad, these are the steps you’ll follow to get a replacement:
Time-limited passports may be issued in cases where an applicant has, by mistake, packed their passport in luggage that is sent forward to another location, or when they’ve left it at home or in another country, and has to travel immediately. If a traveler is robbed multiple times in a short timespan, they may also receive a limited passport while the authorities investigate the situation.
Some travel insurance plans include coverage for:
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.