When you travel you not only step out of your comfort zone, but you also leave behind all of the important information about your life. You know, the stuff you’d need in case there were some kind of emergency–insurance numbers, the number to call if you lose your credit card, prescription information, etc.
We have all of this information available to us when we are home, but what would you do if your house sitter contacted you when you were halfway around the world to tell you that your house had caught fire? Could you contact your homeowner’s insurance agent and provide all the information he’d need no matter where you are?
This checklist is designed to help you to compile all the information you should need while away from home so that you can carry it in a portable file. I hope it provides you some peace of mind.
The list includes the items you need and, in parentheses, an explanation about why it is important.
Documents to Place in Your Important Papers File & Why You May Need Them
Make a list with the following information on it:
- Homeowner’s or Renter’s Policy Number & Agent Contact Number (in case there is an emergency at your home so that you can notify your insurance company as soon as possible)
- The name, address, contact information, and reservation confirmation numbers for your hotel, rental car and airline tickets (in case you need to contact any of them for any reason or you need the confirmation numbers for any reason)
- The numbers of and contact information for any credit or debit cards you may use on your trip (in case they are lost or stolen)
- A copy of your Driver’s License (and International Driver’s License, if necessary-in case either of these documents are lost or stolen)
- Your frequent flyer number, your frequent guest number for hotel chains, and any other travel membership clubs’ numbers (in case you need them to claim rewards or discounts)
- The numbers of your traveler’s checks (in case the originals are lost or stolen)
- Names and contact information for friends and relatives you plan to visit while on your trip (so that it will be easier to contact them and also, in case of emergency, for someone else to be able to contact someone nearby)
- Medical insurance provider name, contact information and policy number (in case your card is lost or stolen)
- Name and contact information for your cell phone service provider & the serial number of the phone, your account number, and the SIM card number (in case your phone is lost or stolen or there is a problem with your phone and you are not able to get service)
- If you will be using a laptop or cell phone with wireless internet access, the name and contact information for your internet service provider, and the serial number of your laptop and any other accessories (in case your computer is lost or stolen and also in case you need assistance with your internet coverage)
- A copy of your itinerary (Each adult or older child should have a copy of this document in case you get separated from the others in your party. You should also leave a copy of your itinerary with someone at home in case you are lost or missing they can better work with the authorities to help them find you.)
- Information concerning any medical conditions you may have including allergy information (Include information like blood type, height, weight, birth date, etc. for each member of your party.)
- Names & contact information for your house sitter, pet sitter, etc. (in case of an emergency)
It could be disastrous if a list like this fell into the wrong hands, so for this reason, use some kind of code as you compile these account numbers.
One suggestion is to write the account numbers in a different sequence. For example, if your account number is 6389 7492 8852 4301 you could write it like this 2588 9836 1043 2947 or if it is 5529731 you could write it as 2551379.
Whatever code you use be sure to memorize it and make sure that anyone else in your traveling party knows how to use it also.
The secret is to have the information available to any one who may need it, but extremely difficult to use for any one who may try to steal it.
Another code to use is to leave the names and contact information in the right order or to further protect yourself and any one else whose contact information you may be carrying, mix up the order of the names and numbers. For example, you could put the info for the first item on the list in the second position, the info for the second item on the list in the third position, and the info for the third item on the list in the first position.
Then create a fake category, something like “Luggage Insurance Carrier” then list the account number as 122331 with the order of the numbers being the “pairs” of how you switched the information: 1,2=first in second position, 2,3=second in third position, 3,1=third in first position.
It may seem a little confusing and like it would be a lot of work to make your list in this way, but remember that the secret it to make the information hard to steal while still having it available just in case you need it.
These items are not sensitive information, but they would be valuable if you needed them:
Keep several various sized envelopes available to store these items safely.
- The name and contact information of your travel agent (if you used one)
- Any coupons or discount codes you plan to use
- The contact information for the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Board for the areas you will be visiting
- Contact information for the embassy where you will be visiting
- A copy of your packing list with space to add any purchases you make while on your trip
- Emergency phone numbers for the areas where you will be traveling including poison control
- A phrase book for any foreign languages you may encounter
- Directions to any places or events you plan to visit
- A tipping chart
- A foreign currency exchange rate chart
- If traveling with pets, name & contact information for their veterinarian and also their immunizations history
- Names and addresses for anyone you plan to send a post card to
- A journal to keep track of your expenditures and also to keep a record of what you do each day
- A recent map of the city and surrounding areas where you are visiting
- Copies of any contracts you signed for vacation packages, travel insurances, etc.
- Copies of any prescriptions for medications, eye glasses or contact lenses (for each person in your party, if necessary)
- If traveling with children and only one parent, a notarized letter of consent from the other parent (a separate letter for each child, if necessary; this is good to have even for domestic travel)
- Immunization records (for each person in your party, if necessary; this is good to have even for domestic travel)
- The receipts for any merchandise you purchase while on your trip (in case you need to return them for any reason; also, if you are returning from a foreign country you will need these when you pass through customs)
- A list of all electronic equipment, including serial numbers, that you are traveling with and copies of receipts for them, if possible (in case they are lost or stolen you will have this information available for the authorities; also, if you are passing through customs you will be able to prove prior ownership and avoid paying duty fees on these items)
- The name and contact information for the hotel(s) where you will be staying (Each person in your party should carry a business card with this information on it in case they are lost or need to give directions to a cab driver.)
- A copy of your auto insurance information (in case you are involved in an automobile accident)
- Your luggage claim tickets (to enable you to claim your luggage)
- The number/aisle of the parking spot where you leave your vehicle in long-term parking at the airport (in case you can’t remember where to find it when you return)
- Insurance claims forms (for all traveler’s insurance that you purchased; these insurances often have a short claim period so you may need to file the claim before you return home)
- Birth Certificates (in case you need to prove identity or prove that a child is yours)
- Extra passport photos (this will save you a lot of time, trouble and expense if your passport is lost or stolen)
Items to carry on your person (You will need these actual documents):
- Your passport, visa, or any other necessary documents (adults should carry these for the children)
- Any travel visas or entry documents you need for the areas where you will be traveling (for each person in your party, if necessary)
- Medical insurance card & any other insurance cards
- A card with information on any medical conditions and the names and contact information of any other adults in your party or that you may be visiting
Special note about children:
- Children should carry an identification card stating their full name, your name and the names of any other adults in your party, the phone numbers and addresses where you can be reached, and emergency contact numbers back home.
- This card should also include any other important information such as medical conditions, insurance information, and health care provider’s name and contact information.
- Place the ID card inside the child’s shirt in a pocket that you have sewn in beforehand.
- This will require a little bit of work and preparation, but if it is ever needed it will be worth it.
- Your child probably already knows about “stranger danger,” but right before a trip is a good time to review this information and to teach them not to show this card to anyone unless they are lost.
Gather all these lists and documents and put then in an accordion style file folder with an elastic band to hold it shut. If you leave your hotel room, place this folder in your room safe and make sure that every one who would need this information knows the combination and knows how to operate the safe.
Hopefully you will never need any of this information for an emergency, but this Important Papers File will be there if you do.