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Copies of travel documents - what's wrong with ...

I always see the advice to copy your reservations and passports, just in case. I have to admit over 45 years of traveling, I've never taken extra copies of anything. Maybe I've just been lucky. But every time I plan a foreign trip, I see the advice and think I ought to do something about it.

Since I always take my phone (nowadays it's a iPhone 5s) and more recently also take my mini-iPad on all trips anywhere, it just occurred to me that I could easily take pictures of our passports, reservations, itinerary's, etc., and store on both the iPhone and iPad. I suppose I could also store them in the cloud for retrieval anywhere even if something happened to my iPhone/iPad.

Thoughts on the Pros/Cons of this idea?

Posted by
223 posts

Call me a worry wart, but I carry copies and I emailed copies of our passports to ourselves so that I could retrieve and make copies of them from anywhere (as I don't use the cloud). Also, my spouse carries one copy of both our passports, and I carry another copy.

Posted by
4066 posts

Copy your credit cards, ATMs etc., so that the number on each is legible. I had a card gobbled by a bank ATM, in a non-English-speaking country, and it helped to be able to point to its image when I attended the bank to ask for retrieval.

Posted by
518 posts

I'm a bit paranoid and carry all travel docs (passport, itinerary, important phone numbers, etc.) in triplicate:

  1. printed in hard copy (passport in color)
  2. as a digital/PDF file on my phone
  3. as a digital/PDF file uploaded to my e-mail in box

I have my wife do this as well. If ever we are separated and there is an emergency, we both have all the info on our person, for ourselves and for each other (we each carry copies of each other's passports as well).

In addition, other information that I carry include (in triplicate as per above):

  1. phone and address of nearest English speaking hospital/clinic/doctor in the destination(s) you're visiting
  2. phone and address of US consulate in the destination(s) you're visiting
  3. phone no. for all your credit cards and banks
  4. all necessary prescriptions for meds you take
  5. copy of eye glass prescription

It might sound like a lot of work, but not really, and there's no real substantial increase in weight or items to pack, no additional expense involved (except for the color printouts?), all for a little peace of mind. I also register my trip with the U.S. Dept. of State (

Posted by
8647 posts

Ray, yes that is a good idea -photos on phone and/or tablet. Emailed to yourself, or on a thumb drive too. Sometimes, a piece of paper is just handier.

Posted by
32266 posts


" I suppose I could also store them in the cloud for retrieval anywhere even if something happened to my iPhone/iPad."

Storing documents in "The Cloud" may not be too useful, as it could be difficult to access internet in some areas. That's one benefit of "hard copies". One method you might consider is to store copies of your important documents as PDF files in either your iPhone or iPad, but keep some hard copies in your checked luggage as well (always good to have a backup).

Posted by
1259 posts

I saved everything in Dropbox (cloudbased storage). I can designate these items as "favorites" which means a copy is also stored in the local memory of my tablet. This allows me to access a favorite without the internet.

I only print out items which i feel i require or need convenient access, like my iinerary or tickets. With emergency docs or personal information, i prefer to keep this stuff kept in more secure digital storage which has more limited access.

Posted by
224 posts

My husband's passport was stolen en route to Heathrow. When we got to the embassy, it ended up that it was a British holiday so they had a skeleton crew that day, the only reason they made him a new passport on the spot was because he had a printed copy of his passport. That's what they told us, they were turning other people away because they were too short staffed. So, no, you'll probably never need the printed copy but it worked out for us to have it.

Posted by
3260 posts

My device crashed during my last trip. I didn't worry because I had paper copies of everything. I was just lucky an Apple store was a couple of blocks away and it was fixed in no time. However, it could have crashed the night before moving towns, so I'll always take paper as backup. Peace of mind.

Posted by
16908 posts

I would not store photos of important documents ( particularly the credit card info) on my device because of the risk it could be lost or stolen. Encrypted copies or cloud storage might be OK, maybe.

This is not an idle fear as three people near and dear to me ( 2 daughters and husband) have had iPhones stolen or iMac lost in the last two years. In each case we learned a lesson about passwords, locking, etc., but we had some anxious days worrying about identity theft. Fortunately the lost Mac was returned by an honest person. One iPhone was tracked to the perp using "find my phone" and recovered. The other iPhone was never found.

Posted by
2499 posts

We bring paper copies and store the copies on the tablet as well. Taking it even further, we also bring passport size photos with us just in case. My husband misplaced his passport at Heathrow once. Luckily he found it before his flight left for the US. Stuff happens. Better safe than sorry. We always have a plan b.

Posted by
9363 posts

You do not need photocopies of your credit and debit cards - they are just as vulnerable as the actual cards if they fall into the wrong hands. Carry the non-tollfree phone numbers of your credit card companies. The companies will be able to have you verify your information, and will be able to cancel your cards if they are lost, even without you having the numbers handy.

Posted by
287 posts

I took my passport, driver's license, birth certificate, etc to my office, scanned copies into PDF documents and loaded them on a thumbdrive which I toss into my carry on bag. If I lose my passport or it is stolen, I'm sure that the nearest US embassy is going to have USB drives on their computers. Pop in the thumbdrive, pull up the file and there is all my ID.

When away from the hotel for the day, I leave the thumbdrive in my hotel room, mixed in with my toiletries bag. Someone may want to come in my room and steal my suitcase or look for cash or credit cards, but I don't think anyone would want to steal my toothbrush or face cream.

Posted by
1068 posts

I take a copy on a thumbdrive in an encrypted zip file and also e-mail myself a copy just in case. I haven't traveled anywhere yet where there wouldn't be a printer available if you had a real emergency.

Posted by
2768 posts

Yes, do not copy your credit cards!!! Just have the toll free international number saved somewhere (I have it on a document stored on my phone, kindle, and on the cloud so I can re download it anywhere). A copy of a credit card can be stolen/hacked and the number used. Just call the card company and they will cancel it. I've done this for a lost card.

Passports are different. A copy of one isn't very useful to a thief, so I scan them and save them electronically. Cloud and file on multiple devices. I also have a paper copy in the suitcase.

I also save all reservations etc on my and/or my spouses phone, ipad, kindle, and cloud. That way it won't get lost and I can re download it if needed. No downsides to this IMO. No paper, retrievable in case of loss, easily viewable anywhere. Some things, like tickets for some attractions, need to be printed. Most things don't - my notes, hotel info (confirmation number should solve any problems), itinerary, all work better for me on my phone (with back up on other device or cloud, because phones do get lost).

Posted by
15678 posts

I put my ATM/credit card numbers and PINs on a piece of stiff paper in my money belt - along with the emergency phone numbers. I'm leary about keeping sensitive data in emails, clouds, etc. I take a photocopy of my passport, but I'm pretty sure it won't help. From experience, a photocopy of a birth certificate is useless. And if you've changed your name (say, by marriage), you'd need proof of that too

I do copy all travel documents - tickets, reservations, notes and itineraries, onto my mini computer and have them all backed up on a flash drive.

Posted by
11613 posts

I keep the emails confirming reservations and tickets, print out hard copies. But I just keep a list of all credit/bank cards and passport with toll-free and local phone numbers as well. Very handy when everything was stolen one year and I had to cancel and replace cards during a trip.

Posted by
524 posts

Love reading this. I have only scanned hotels, train, tour, etc. infirmation. I have quite a bit. I have made one hard copy, then sent the PDFs to my email then saved them to my IPAD.

I needed some ideas of how to do passports, credit cards and the like. Will copy passports in color, and PDF and copy to Phone. I also like the idea of the jump drive for safe measure. So much to think about.