Travel Documents to Bring Along

by Nancy Bestor

I try very hard not to use too much paper. I use old envelopes for shopping lists, I reprint on the blank side of pages I no longer need, and cut up paper to use for notes. Thus I don’t love having to print travel documents. But I have learned the hard way that this is necessary before most of my travels, particularly when heading out of the country. While I can keep itineraries, boarding passes and hotel and rental car confirmations on my smartphone, I always worry that I will not have service when I need to access the information, so I’ve taken to printing it all out (usually on the backside of one of my daughter’s AP Government draft essays).


My hard lesson came when our family arrived in Vietnam at midnight at the hotel where I had made reservations online. Needless to say, they could not find our reservation, and they were full for the night, and I could not access the email they had sent me confirming my reservation. Had I just printed that confirmation out, I could at least have proven that I had a reservation, although if they didn’t have rooms I’m not sure that would have helped any (but it’s the principle dammit!).

Thus here are the items I always print out, and tuck into a pocket in my suitcase or day bag for future reference.

  • Return Itinerary – I regularly forget the time my return flight home is scheduled for. Sometimes if I’m really having fun I forget the day too.
  • Any hotel/rental car/reserved transportation confirmations (see hard lesson above), along with phone numbers and addresses of said hotel/rental car pickup/etc.
  • A copy of my passport.
  • I write down the credit card account numbers that I am traveling with, as well as the toll free and/or international phone numbers to call if one is lost or stolen. Photocopies work too.
  • Copies of any prescription medications I may be taking – in case I fall ill or need an emergency refill. It doesn’t hurt to include the phone number of an emergency contact back home, especially when traveling alone.

It’s entirely possible that I won’t need any of the information I am bringing along, but I only needed to be stuck at midnight in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City with my husband and two daughters once, with no where to lay our heads to remember the age old phrase, better safe than sorry.

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