Travel documents I carry with me internationally

Put this in the “basic advice” category, please. I’ve started organizing the “paperwork” for my upcoming trip to Turkey and Hong Kong today, mainly because I’m looking to waste time and avoid doing what I’d have to otherwise. Anyway, it occurred to me that I’m probably printing out a lot more stuff than most people in preparation for my trip.

Here are the necessities (in my book) that you should have with you when traveling internationally:

  • Flight itineraries and receipt, if possible showing your seat assignment. Along the same lines, if your flight is being operated by an airline other than the one you booked with, call them directly to select seats and also to get their record locator (each airline has a different one) for future reference. Closer to departure call the operating airline to reconfirm your seats and itinerary. Today, for example, I realized that Thai booked me in the wrong seats for an upcoming trip, which would have my brother andĀ me sitting separately. Not the end of the world, but it’s nice to have it squares away before travel commences.
  • Hotel reservation confirmation with the phone number and address of the hotel, ideally with some sort of directions in case you get a cab driver from the airport that claims he knows where he’s going but doesn’t really.
  • If you’ve corresponded with the hotel beforehand via email about their upgrade policy, etc., and your upgrade doesn’t show as confirmed online, print out the emails you received from the hotel. In some cases I’ve been promised a certain upgrade before the stay, but when I arrive they only assign me a lower room. Having a printout is very useful.
  • As sad as it is, if you have a feeling that an agent won’t know “the rules” somewhere along the way during your travels, print out the pertinent information. For my upcoming trip, for example, I printed out the United International First Class Lounge access rules, just in case the agents don’t want to let me in when I’m transiting Chicago with an outbound Swiss first class boarding pass. Also, if you have elite status with a hotel chain, having a booklet with the elite benefits can’t hurt, should you run into an agent not familiar with them.
  • Have a copy of your passport with you when you travel, either on your computer or printed out. I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve seen lose passports in countries I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be stuck in.

Ultimately you could just keep all of these files on your computer, but I like to print them out so I can address any issues as soon as they arise. Having printouts of almost everything has saved me many times.

Did I forget anything, or does anyone take a different approach?

Filed Under: Advice
  1. That’s a lot of paper to cart around on complex itins.

    I don’t worry about printouts of lounge rules and elite benefits. For flight reference numbers, seating, u/g requests etc I have a table that generally fits on one page unless the trip is especially long (more than 30 flights). For hotels I printout out the address info if it is in a strange city, especially if I don’t speak the language well. Also the hotel confirmation for non-chain hotels.

  2. If you’re going to a country that requires a visa, you should bring a photocopy of that as well.

    Also, I try to leave a copy of my passport information page with someone back home, in case my passport, laptop, and the copies I brought all get lost/stolen (which can certainly happen). They can easily fax it to my hotel.

  3. Also if you’re renting a car, you should have that confirmation and any applicable coupons. If driving a long distance print out directions and always check the rental rate on the contract (it has come up higher a few times for me). The last thing I check on a rental car before pulling out of the lot is to look at the gas guage to see if the tank registers full. Sometimes it isn’t.

  4. The customer service numbers and info for any credit/debit cards you’re carrying, just in case your wallet gets lost/stolen. If you have a trusted friend or family member back at home, this is a good list to leave with them as well so you don’t have to spend quite as much time on the phone paying international rates cancelling everything…

    (I have firsthand experience that this is a very good thing to do, alas.)

  5. I carry too many photocopies also. Just anal, I guess. I add a couple of passport photos. And I scan and email to myself all travel docs (including copies of the front and BACK of credit/ATM cards — for the customer service phone numbers), so they can be accessed from any computer. Especially copies of your passport, visas, PIN numbers (coded some way, for security), etc.

  6. I would scan and email key documents (passport visa etc) to a web based email account so you have access in case of issues šŸ™‚

  7. When traveling to various asian countries (not being a speaker or writer of any asian dialect) – I have a local contact write the name/address of hotel and office (or other destinations) in the local language to hand to the cab driver.

    Not having these has resulted in some interesting wandering trips (in Japan in particular).

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