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Travel Documents - What to Take When You Travel Abroad

Whether you travel abroad for pleasure or business, the best starting point is with a good travel plan. A key part of such a plan is a file of specific documents. And, travel documents in the post-September 11 world have become even more important.

Below is a list of the ones you need. You should take them with you as well as leave them at home with a relative, close friend, or business associate.

  • Copy of your itinerary;
  • Copy of your airline tickets;
  • Copy of your passport (with visas included) - Often, the most valuable target for a thief is your passport. If you are not in a place that requires you to carry it on your person, carry the photocopy in its place and, if you have one, use an International Drivers Permit as your identity document. Leave your passport in a secure place such as the hotel safe. If you carry the original, put it in a security or flip-away wallet hidden under your clothes or in an internal pocket, which can be buttoned or zipped shut. If you are going to have passport pictures taken, get four so you can carry the extra two for use in replacing a lost or stolen passport. Lost passports are more complicated to replace if you are on your trip. They require two passport photos, identification, which may have to be established by cable to the U.S., payment of a replacement fee and an open embassy or consulate. For further information about replacing a lost/stolen passport while you are abroad, please visit the following State Department website,;
  • Record of your blood type and RH factor;
  • Notation of special health conditions - If you have an ongoing health condition
    such as a heart problem that might be important for an airline or hotel to know
    about, carry a notification card written in English and in the language of the
    country(ies) you plan to visit;
  • Copy of your International Vaccination Certificate with a record of vaccinations;
  • Copy of any needed medications you are taking with you;
  • Copy of your eyeglass prescription (be sure to take an extra pair of glasses
    with you);
  • Copy of your traveler’s checks’ numbers;
  • Copy of both sides of your credit cards, ATM, and telephone calling cards;
  • Your medical emergency assistance insurance information.

As you put these documents together, you should also be thinking about who will be able (both practically and legally) to care for your dependants and handle your affairs if you become incapacitated. Also, who will take care of you and any unexpected medical expenses if you or your fellow travelers face an emergency? Plan your trip and organize your documents with these issues in mind.

By keeping copies of your travel documents with you and at home, you will have averted much of the hassle if your documents are lost or stolen.