Safe International Travel

Every international traveler needs to build a personal information profile for emergencies and for normal travel guidance and information.

Safe International Travel – The Personal Information You’ll Need

Below find a list of useful profile items for international travels. It’s not an exhaustive list, but we believe it’s a great start. Once made, you will only need periodic updates.

Your travel information profile and backup documents:

  1. Create a travel information sheet to serve as a backup should you lose your documents and credit cards. Keep in an electronic file and you will email to yourself or keep in a safe place in the cloud. We recommend encrypting this document with an easily remembered password. Also, send a copy to a trusted friend or family member. Items normally carried while traveling and easily lost or stolen should be scanned to this document.
  2. Scan pictures of your passport, driver’s license, front and back of credit cards, front and back of your health insurance cards, your auto insurance card, your social security card, and your AAA card if you are a member. You’ll want to save this scanned document to your travel information sheet. Again, encrypting this document with an easy password is just a smart idea.
  3. Scan your immunization records and add those to your file. This is particularly important because some countries will want to see those records in original form. The Centers for Disease Control has an easy to use dropdown list of specific country requirements.
  4. If you have a travel insurance policy for the trip – something we always recommend – scan and add it to this information document. Make sure that the electronic copy of the policy is kept in your email account.
  5. Add a list of all of your medications. You don’t know when you might need to replace them.
  6. Put down the telephone number and email address of your family physician. You never know when this will come in handy, particularly in an emergency.
  7. Your travel information sheet should have your itinerary – hotel, airline, rental car, and tour reservations on a day-by-day basis if possible. Those should have been emailed to you. Hopefully you have also kept the emails so you can retrieve them by phone, but adding them to your travel information sheet is good backup and creates an important central unified record.
  8. Put the telephone numbers of the offices of your Members of the Congress, both House and Senate. In an emergency or when time is important, nothing cuts through bureaucratic red tape let a call from the office of a Member of Congress. You can find this information at the telephone directories of the House and Senate.
  9. Put in the names, telephone numbers, and email addresses for key family members, friends, and even employers. You never know who will need this information.
  10. If you’ve used a travel agent for any of your trip, put down your agent’s name, the agency name, the agent’s personal cell number, and their email address.
  11. Add all airline and cruise ship phone numbers for travelers. Every airline or cruise line has a direct access emergency number.
  12. Make a list of all of frequent traveler account numbers to add to this profile.
  13. Finally, add the telephone number for your cellular carrier. Your cell phone can be your lifeline in many ways, you don’t want to find it has been cutoff or you don’t know how to use it where you are.

Last Steps to Using the Profile

  1. As we noted above, you should email this unified travel profile to yourself. We recommend encrypting the profile with an easy to remember password – easy for YOU to remember.
  2. Email an unencrypted version to a trusted family member or close friend.
  3. Password protect your cell phone.

Finally, this probably seems like a lot of work, but our personal experience in a variety of situations has shown that these documents and the information can come be absolutely essential if something does go wrong. A little bit of work on the front end can make up for being on your own in a foreign country when you’re sick or injured or you’ve lost your passport, tickets, and credit cards.

One last suggestion – check in with friends by email or on Facebook on a regular basis if you’re traveling in more difficult countries or regions. Somebody will have a record of your last check in and should start asking questions if you haven’t been heard from in some time.

Enjoy the trip and feel comfortable that you’ve protected yourself against most potential incidents.

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