Tips: Managing Travel Documents

Imagine how easy it is to get a little spacey or flustered when arriving at your destination, especially when jet-lagged. There can be a lot of travel documents to keep up with when traveling, even within your own home country—airline, train and bus reservations; hotel and campground reservations; car rental details; event tickets; maps, etc. And when you travel overseas, the number of travel documents increases greatly.

Here are 4 tips for managing all those pesky documents.

1. Travel Folder – Put all your travel documents into one or more folders or envelopes in the same place, like your purse, a pocket in your briefcase or day pack. You may be traveling with a couple of folders or envelopes, so it is a good idea to label each of them before putting them into your day pack.  Also label each document at the top with a Sharpie pen. Example, HOTEL at the top of the hotel reservation. It is OK to be a little obsessive about this because it will make your travel logistics easy.

2. Maps– Using Google maps on your cell phone and GPS in rental cars often works great, but sometimes electronics fail us. Embarrassingly, the battery charge runs down on the phone just when you need it most for navigation; and don’t you just hate it when a trusty GPS directs you to a dead-end road or the terminus of a county airport runway? It is then that a little paper map helps. Likewise, when going into the wilderness or a developing country, the destination may not have cell phone coverage so an e-map can be unavailable. Therefore, in certain circumstances, take paper maps with you; and where are they kept? In your travel document folder. For example, you can print out a Google map with directions to your hotel and staple that map to your hotel reservation. Likewise, you can print another map to the conference center and attach it to your conference registration form. If backpacking into wilderness, getting lost can be life threatening. Always take topographical (topos) maps of the area you plan to explore. And in foreign cities and countries, carry paper maps so you can read them in your own language. Someday e-maps will be totally reliable, but they are not there, yet.

3. Business Travel– If you are on business travel, receipts can drive you crazy. If your organization or company needs receipts to reimburse you, designate a separate envelope in your purse or day pack that is clearly labeled “Receipts.” Whenever you incur a business expense, immediately put the receipt into your designated envelop. On extended trips, sometimes receipts are hard to read. It helpful to mark those receipts or put little sticky notes on them. Filling out expense reports becomes much easier.

4. When things go wrong– When traveling, things happen. And alas things happen to your stuff. Luggage gets lost or delayed; or purses and day packs get stolen. These circumstances can be super stressful and your first thought may be that your trip is ruined. But with a bit of preparation, there is an easy way to handle it. Keep duplicate travel document information. It is best to put this duplicate information in a separate piece of luggage from where you will carry your actual passport/tickets, etc. Alternatively, scan all your documents and keep electronic copies of them on your phone. Some frequent travelers give photocopies or scanned copies of critical documents (like passports or visas) to a person back home who can send the image to you. Copies of critical docs can cut through a whole lot of bureaucratic hassles.

Comment below to let us know about your travel experiences and any suggestions you have.

Here is an easy Travel Documents Checklist

Leave a Reply