Lots of us will remember the days of the manila wallet that dad never let out of his sight throughout every holiday. In it was a king’s ransom in travel documents: passports, insurance documents, boarding passes, various tickets, hotel booking confirmations, receipts, cash – the list went on and on.
And the scary reality was that if any one of these were to get lost, a holiday could be well and truly scuppered.
While it’s useful to take hard copies of documents away, you can minimise your worry and risk. Here are some handy tips on keeping your travel documents safe.
How to back everything up
Travel document safety is crucial for your peace of mind. Make sure you’ve everything stored in one place by scanning all paper documents and storing them online so that you can access them from any internet connection.
If your household printer has a scan function, you can use this to make digital copies of documents. But if you don’t, it’s just as easy to take photos of your documents. Using your smartphone’s camera is the easiest option, and as long as all of the important bits are clear and in-focus, these pictures should do fine.
There are also free apps that use your phone’s camera to capture documents. These don’t only take pictures, but automatically edit them to be clear, straight and the right size. Microsoft Lens and CamScanner can interpret photos to judge which bits are important and make them appear to be scanned. They can also upload the documents automatically to a cloud drive.
1. Send yourself an email
This is as simple as emailing yourself all of your scanned images as well as making sure you know where the online documents like boarding passes are.
A good idea is to create a folder of your inbox and store all of the relevant emails there. Name it something obvious and memorable so that you can easily find it – such as “Spain Holiday 2018” instead of “01-08-2018 Spain Holiday”.
Remember that lots of flight companies send your tickets as downloadable PDF files or as links to follow, so always check that you’ve downloaded the attachment before popping that email in the folder.
Some airlines also send you a couple of emails alongside your boarding pass – like booking confirmation and some marketing material. Be sure to store the right one!
2. Get some cloud space
DropBox, iCloud, Google Drive and OneDrive are all popular cloud storage services, and all offer a basic amount of storage for free. Unless you’re a film editor travelling with terabytes worth of data on you, you’re unlikely to need more than 1GB for each trip.
For those that do need to access a serious amount of data while away, there are paid plans that offer as much storage as you need.
Most of the cloud storage options above will exist in app form. Make sure you download this for quick access on the go.
What documents should I back up?
All of them! Here’s a quick checklist:
- Passport (take clear photos of the picture page and number as well as all stamped pages and visas)
- Travel insurance documents
- Boarding passes
- Itinerary details – a list of addresses of where you’ll be visiting and when
- Home address details in the UK
- Contact details for your bank, particularly the overseas contact number
- Photos of your Traveller’s Cheques including serial numbers
- Any onward travel (such as train) documentation
- Information about the British embassy in the country your visiting, or your nearest consulate
- Travel agency contact details if relevant
- EHIC (if you’re travelling in Europe)
- ESTA (if you’re travelling to the USA)
- Driver’s licence
- International Driving Permit (IDP)
- Contact details of next of kin
- GP contact details
- Prescriptions and lists of medications currently being taken
- A letter from your GP confirming that you are taking, and need to take, your medicines
- Inoculation and vaccination certificates
- Visas to countries you’re visiting
- Licences for activities you need them for (e.g. PADI certificates for scuba diving)
- Organ donor card (if you have one)
- Images and serial numbers of valuable items you’re taking with you
- ATOL certificate
It’s also helpful to remember that, for many of these, you’ll only have to upload them once.
All of these documents together paint an extremely intimate portrait of you, so make sure that you are regularly changing the passwords to your cloud storage, phone and computer.
It’s also worth considering an encrypted service to make sure that even if someone did get their hands on your details, they wouldn’t be able to see anything.
What if I lose my phone or computer?
It’s important to take out adequate travel insurance to make sure that if loss or damage occurs to the gadget your documentation is stored on, you can make a claim. You might also consider a gadget add-on for that extra level of security.
But losing your phone or laptop isn’t the end of the world. You backed everything up for a reason – and any internet-connected computer will give you access to what you need.