I am the kind of person who plans ahead of time and always carries things in the event of emergencies, as more often than not you need them. Particularly when it comes to documents whilst travelling internationally. You just never know when you will need to provide important information to enter a country. So it is best to be over prepared than to be sorry. Here are 10 documents that I always carry when travelling abroad.
10 Documents I Always Carry
When Travelling Abroad
1. Passport With Visa
Ensuring you take your passport is an obvious one, however not everyone realises that some countries need a visa. Especially if you plan to stay greater than 3 months, you will certainly need a visa. Be sure to research the country you intend to visit to apply for the appropriate visa. If you are planning an extended stay in India from Australia then be sure to read my tips on How To Apply For An Indian Tourist Visa From Australia first.
2. Copy Of E-Ticket
It is always a good idea to take a copy of your itinerary so that you have a quick reference when travelling. However some airports will request to sight your E-Ticket or they may need your E-Ticket reference number. So it is best practise just to bring a copy.
3. Extra Identification
Bringing along extra identification with a photo other than your passport can be a life saver. Particularly if you happen to have your passport lost or stolen having additional identification can help to verify who you are at the consulate. Although if you are staying for an extended stay you may require additional identification for everyday purposes such as purchasing a local sim card.
4. Spare Debit Cards
I always try to bring two separate cards from two different financiers, also if I am using a credit or debit card I will then ensure one is Visa and one is Master. Simply because things do go wrong and communication lines with banks do go down. There is nothing worse than being stuck abroad with one card and that server is down. So if you have a Visa and a Master Card from two different financiers then you will always be twice as safe. I do this because both Visa and Master are different providers and then two different financiers again are different providers. So if only say your NAB card doesn't work then you can still use the other financier card. However if Visa is down and you have two cards from different financiers but both are Visa then you are still going to be stuck. Sure it doesn't happen that often but having worked in the bank I know that it happens enough for it to be a possible inconvenience for you.
Additionally I ensure to bring a spare card on top of the two different debit cards. This way if it is worn out or lost and stolen you have a back up. This is simple enough to organise with your financier just ask for an additional card to access your account. This way you have two separate card numbers to the one account in case you do need to cancel one. Just keep it tucked away safely till you need it. And be sure not to carry it with all the other cards as that defeats the purpose.
5. Photocopies Of Identification Documents
Checking into some hotels, particularly in India, they will ask for copies of your passport. If they don't happen to have a photocopier they will put the responsibility on you to get a copy. So rather than be put on the spot when you are tired and in dire need of sleep, carry copies of your important documents. If you want to go one step further you can keep certified copies in the event your passport is stolen. I am unsure of the process myself though the more information you have at hand the easier it will be for you.
6. Letter From Doctor
For those of you like me who need to take medication it is critical that you bring a letter from your doctor in the event you are required to provide evidence at the airport. It is illegal to possess prescription medication unless it is for yourself. So be sure to keep your medicine in their labelled boxes and bring only enough for your trip. Ensure that your doctor lists all these details in the letter such as what you require the medicine for, what your dosage is and how much he has prescribed you for your travels. It is also a good idea to have a letter from your doctor in the event you need to be seen to by a local doctor. Without my letter I would never have been able to receive a prescription from a doctor in India for my medicine when it ran out. Unfortunately I was only able to travel with 3 months supply of this medication due to certain legislations. If you have doubt that you will be deemed as fit enough to travel then a letter from your doctor can also assist. When in doubt, you most likely will need it. So a trip to the doctor will be worth your time.
7. Spare Passport Photos
If you just applied for a visa you will have spare passport photos anyway. So it is always good practise to bring a few along as spare. For instance in India to apply for a local sim card you need to supply a passport photo. I have also heard to meet the Dahli Lama you are required to hand over a passport photo. The size for India is 2x2 so the size you carry with you will depend on which country you visit.
8. Copy Of Vaccinations If Required
It is important to research what vaccinations are mandatory where you are travelling and be sure that your doctor gives you a copy. Carry this with your passport in case you are requested to show proof. Though don't staple it to your passport as countries like Australia will fine you for altering your passport.
9. Details Of Insurance
Always carry a copy of your travel insurance policy along with all the contact details in the event you do have an emergency. It is always best to be prepared than sorry. There are also some companies that provide the service of stopping all your important cards, identification and documents in the event they are lost or stolen, such as Secure Sentinal. I had this when I travelled to Spain which made life so much easier. I had everything pick pocketed from my handbag by thieves. I made one single phone call to Secure Sentinal who cancelled all my cards and identification that were in my wallet. It saved me so much stress of having to call and wait in the queue for about ten different banks and the department of transport. If you travel frequently then I highly recommend this service for peace of mind. They offer so much more than just a one stop shop to cancel all your cards, they provide other travel services such as fraud alert on your card and emergency cash. They charge a yearly subscription fee, which was waived for me at the time as this was a free service offered with certain credit cards. So it's a good idea to see what added benefits your credit card offers. You will most likely find that it comes with travel insurance if you book your travel with your credit card anyway.
If you are travelling for an extended period and carry items such as a laptop, camera or tablet then it is a good idea to bring along your warranty papers. If you do need to send them away for repair most companies have international offices. Or at the very least you have all the information at hand to contact them should you have any issues. They can then advise you what they can and can't do.
How Do I Store All These Documents?
When travelling I will be sure to keep my E-Ticket, Passport and Cards in my handbag close to me at all times or in a small bag that you wear under your clothing. All other documents I store separately in a mini expandable file, which you can get super cheap at Kmart for $6.00. When possible I try to keep the file locked up and leave it at home when out sightseeing. Along with my passport and spare debit cards. It is best to keep some items on you and some at your hotel. Who knows if your hotel maid is trustworthy or you may be pick pocketed whilst out and about.
For more tips on what documents to pack here are some useful articles:
> Smart Traveller by The Australian Department Of Foreign Affairs & Trade - A Guide For All Travellers
> Hippie In Heels a seasoned American traveller living abroad - 15 Documents You Need For Travel