Category Archives: Travel

Travel Information So Important You Can’t Leave Home Without It

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.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative

As of January 23, 2007 the new Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires all travelers to and from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda to present a passport or other accepted document that establishes the bearer’s identity and nationality in order to enter or re-enter the United States. The goal is to strengthen border security and facilitate entry into the United States for U.S. citizens and legitimate international travelers.
Under this law the following documents are be acceptable to fulfill document requirements:

• U.S. Passport: U.S. citizens may present a valid U.S. passport when traveling via air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda, and may also use a U.S. passport when traveling via sea and land borders (including ferry crossings).

• The Passport Card (also referred to as the PASS Card): This limited-use passport in card format is currently under development and will be available for use for travel only via land or sea (including ferries) between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. Similar in size to a credit card, it will fit easily into a wallet.

• DOS and DHS also anticipate that the following documents will continue to be acceptable for their current travel uses under WHTI: SENTRI, NEXUS, FAST, and the U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty traveling on orders will continue to be exempt from the passport requirement

The passport requirement does NOT apply to U.S. citizens traveling to or returning directly from a U.S. territory. U.S. citizens returning directly from a U.S. territory are not considered to have left the United States and do not need to present a passport.

U.S. citizens traveling from U.S. territories need not to present a passport to re-enter the United States. As long as the territories are a part of the United States. U.S. citizens returning directly from a U.S. territory are not considered to have left the U.S. territory and do not need to present a passport. U.S. territories include the following: Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Swains Island and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Children are also required to present passports under the rule. Yes, children will be required to present a passport when entering the United States at airports. More information on obtaining a passport for a minor can be found at http://travel.state.gov

Here’s what will happen to you if you attempt to re-enter the U.S. without a passport or an alternative travel card. Under the law, the new documentation requirements may be waived under certain circumstances. These exceptions include individual cases of unforeseen emergency and individual cases based on “humanitarian or national interest reasons.” In addition, the State Department has processes to assist U.S. citizens overseas to obtain emergency travel documentation for those with lost or stolen passports. There was a time when if a U.S. Citizen lost or their pass port was stolen you could go to any U.S. Embassy and get a new one issued right on the spot.

For the general public, people who apply for entry but do not have appropriate documentation will be referred for secondary screening at the port. In secondary, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers will evaluate any evidence of citizenship or identity the individual may have and will verify all information against available databases. However, to prevent delay at the ports of entry, they encourage all U.S. citizens to obtain the appropriate documents before they travel.
What impact recent legislation may have on the deadline of implementation for the land and sea phase is unknown.

While recent legislative changes may permit a later deadline, both the Departments of State and Homeland Security are working to put all requirements in place to implement the land and sea phase by the original deadline of January 1, 2008. Advance notice will be provided to enable the public to meet the land/sea border requirement.

Over 70 million U.S. citizens hold valid passports, an estimated quarter of the eligible population. The number of passport applications and issuances continues to grow. In fiscal year 2006, the U.S. Department of State issued over 12.1 million passports.

DHS has prepared a separate economic analysis, known as the Regulatory Assessment (RA), which is summarized in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published August 11, 2006, and is available in full for review and public comment from the Federal Register docket. DHS has determined that the benefits – facilitation of travel and increased security in the air and sea environments – justify the potential costs. A complete and detailed “Regulatory Assessment” can be found in the docket for this rulemaking: [http://www.regulations.gov;] see also http://www.cbp.gov. For further information, please contact DHS.

Registration at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate (in the country you are visiting) makes your presence and whereabouts known, in case it is necessary for a consular officer to contact you in an emergency. During a disaster overseas, American consular officers can assist in evacuation were that to become necessary. But they cannot assist you if they do not know where you are.

Registration is particularly important for those who plan to stay in a country longer than one month, or who will travel to:

*A country that is experiencing civil unrest, has an unstable political climate, or is undergoing a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or a hurricane.

*A country where there are no U.S. officials. In such cases, you should register at the U.S. embassy or consulate in an adjacent country, leave an itinerary with the Consular Section, ask about conditions in the country that you will visit and ask about the third country that may represent U.S. interests there.

If you are traveling with an escorted tour to areas experiencing political uncertainty or other problems, find out if your tour operator is registering your trip through the State Department’s travel registration website . If it is not, or if you are traveling on your own, you can still register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website .

In accordance with the Privacy Act, information on your welfare or whereabouts may not be released to inquirers without your expressed written authorizations. Registration through the website is not considered proof of citizenship. Remember to leave a detailed itinerary and the numbers or copies of your passport or other citizenship documents with a friend or relative in the United States.

Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid a certain country. The countries listed below are currently on that list. In addition to this list, the State Department issues Consular Information Sheets for every country of the world with information on such matters as the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, any areas of instability, and the location of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in the subject country.

Côte d’Ivoire 06/01/2007

Iran 05/31/2007

East Timor 05/11/2007

Nepal 05/07/2007

Eritrea 05/02/2007

Yemen 04/30/2007

Philippines 04/27/2007

Uzbekistan 04/25/2007

Congo, Democratic Republic of the 04/24/2007

Sri Lanka 04/05/2007

Afghanistan 04/04/2007

Algeria 03/22/2007

Central African Republic 03/06/2007

Liberia 02/16/2007

Kenya 02/06/2007

Burundi 01/24/2007

Nigeria 01/19/2007

Israel, the West Bank and Gaza 01/17/2007

Haiti 01/10/2007

Indonesia 01/09/2007

Lebanon 12/22/2006

Saudi Arabia 12/19/2006

Pakistan 12/05/2006

Chad 11/20/2006

Syria 11/13/2006

Sudan 10/05/2006

Iraq 08/28/2006

Somalia 06/05/2006

Bosnia-Herzegovina 03/30/2006

Colombia 01/18/2006

US Airways – International Travel Tips