Knowing how to handle your travel documents, such as passports, IDs and visas are essential for your travel and especially when you are travelling abroad. Having passport/national ID will enable to cross country borders, register at the hotel, rent a car (this will require valid driver’s license as well) and do several other activities that require identification.
Keep your passports up to date, most of the countries will not let you in if your passport is about to expire. Even if they let you in, you won’t be able to leave with expired passport.
Have some other type of identification handy, such as national ID, driver license or any other photo ID, in case of any emergency.
Take with you copies of your passport and other IDs, just in case, if you lose your documents or get robbed. You can keep your files on the Cloud (Apple, Google, OneDrive, etc) so even if your electronics is lost or stolen, you can retrieve this information easily. A good photo of your passport and your picture ID with your phone camera would do in case of emergency.
Take a note of a location and contacts of your embassy in the countries you are visiting; they would be of great help if anything bad happen to you during your travel.
National ID and driving license
The same rules apply for these types of documents as for passports – they need to be valid for the duration of your trip and you need to make a copy of them in case of emergency.
In addition to this, you might need to obtain international driving permit if you are planning to rent a car abroad.
Even if you are not planning to rent a car, valid driving license can be handy – if you change your mind and want to rent a car or in case of emergency and you need to rent a car and move quickly.
Most of the countries have online visa application process and this makes it easier to apply and obtain visa well in advance of your trip. Some countries issue visa on entry, where you bring necessary documents, pay the fee and get visa at the airport. For some countries (very few), visa needs to be obtained from their embassy or consular representative and this might create extra work and time waste, but it is better to sort out this before the trip as this is an obvious show stopper.
For more info on visa requirements around the world, click here:
Keep your documents safe!
You should keep your documents in hotel safe (if there is a one in your room) or inside a safe place inside of your accommodation (given that accommodation is safe and robbery free).
If you are not confident in leaving your documents back in a hotel, at least try and split them and keep passport in the hotel and ID or driving license on you as to split the risk of losing all the documents at once (which would be terrible experience during the holidays), or bring all your documents with you in a secure money/document belt or document purse which you will always take good care of. Downside of this approach is that documents get worn out faster than usual.
Another detail about keeping document safe is to prevent them from being destroyed accidentally, from water, fire or regular wear and tear, so we advise to get some protective sleeve, especially for your passport(s). Passports are documents that will follow you throughout your trips on average for 10 years (normal validity of most of the passports) and taking good care of them is an imperative.
After the trip
Once you are back home, double heck all your documents to confirm if they are in a good shape and not damaged, worn out and if their validity is still OK. If they are to expire soon, renew them as soon as possible as you probably don’t know when is next wanderlust coming your way!