I would like to discuss today the importance of travel documentation. One must be diligent with all travel documentation no matter what others may tell you.
Here are a few of my travel documentation tips:
Each US citizen must have a valid passport to travel internationally. It is important that your passport be valid during all the periods that you plan to travel. Most countries in the Schengen Region (Western Europe) require a passport to be valid for at least 6 months from the first date of entry, otherwise it will be denied. Consult your embassy website for Visa entry requirements. There may also be limitations on the length of stay so be sure to check ahead of time.
Keep your passport protected at all times during international travel, either in a money belt or in a hotel front desk safe. You do not want to fall victim to pickpockets or thieves that prey on tourists in many destinations around the world. Everyone can fall victim, so BEWARE!
After a day of sightseeing, one of my clients, Lori L., decided to use her free time in the city and go shopping. She had been warned about the pickpocket situation in Europe, but she thought that since she was from a major city in the USA, she really did not need to worry. She was wrong. Her passport, credit card and money were stolen while she waited to cross the street at a stop light. The thief bumped her lightly at the curb as it filled with people waiting to cross. The light changed, everyone crossed and before she realized what had happened, her passport and money were gone.
She came back frantically to our hotel and alerted me of the horrible situation. This was the first time in my 25 years of traveling and leading groups that I have had such an event happen. I jumped into action and was able to get her a new passport the next day within 4 hours. That is the beauty of having a knowledgeable guide who knows the language and culture and who is effective when it matters the most.
It is advisable to have copies of e-tickets/itineraries/rental car information with you at all times. I recommend having copies on your mobile device, hidden in your suitcase and with a family member or contact back at home. At the minimum, get a hotel card with the address listed in case you get lost.
Have a list of supplier (ie. hotel/shuttle) telephone numbers, just in case. You can either print this out and have it in your purse, or e-mail it directly to your smartphone and/or tablet. Include your corporate internal travel coordinator if it is applicable.
If you happen to be renting a car, arrange for someone to escort you in parking lots, especially if you are arriving late at night or early in the morning. Also be aware of any driving and/or insurance coverage options, no one likes surprises and unexpected cost increases.
I always like to have contact names and numbers in case of an emergency. By having it in one place makes it easier to locate and use.
I hope that you have found these travel documentation tips helpful and if you did please share them with a traveling friend or family! Travel safe and remember no matter where you have traveled to or where you may go to next…Paris is always a good idea!
What are your favorite travel documentation tips?