Travel Document Holder

Travel Documents - Tips To Keeping Organized While Traveling For Travel Backpackers

You would think with the advancements of technology that we would need less documents to travel with, but in fact the opposite is true. Keeping your travel documents organized is especially tricky for Travel Backpackers as we don't have the luxury of having a lot of space. It surprises us that more travel influencers don't talk about how they organize their travel documents - what items you’ll encounter and which items are best in physical vs digital form.

5 Universal Tips

Remember: Organization is personal. What works for one, may not work for others.

  1. Invest in a Travel Document Pouch Organizer:

A dedicated travel pouch, wallet, or organizer for your physical documents can be a game-changer. These come in various sizes with designed compartments. The best for Backpack Travelers are minimalistic, lightweight, and not bulky.

And no, a passport cover is not the same as a travel document pouch or organizer.

  1. Prioritize Essential Documents:

Not all travel documents are created equal. Prioritize the most important ones, like your passport, visa, or ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) and keep these at the front of your organizer. Other documents such as your travel or health insurance are rarely needed but you should definitely bring them.

  1. Make Copies:

Before you set off on your adventure, make photocopies of your crucial documents. These copies should include your passport, visa, ID, and credit cards.

  1. Go Digital:

Embrace technology by scanning your travel documents and saving them in a secure digital format. You can store them on your smartphone or in a cloud service like Google Drive or Dropbox. Making a travel folder in your email can be very useful as every confirmation email can also be filed in this digital folder where you stored all your documents. Also consider travel apps that help you store all these documents on your smartphone. Lastly, keep in mind that you will need data or wifi to access these documents. Investing in an eSIM card to assure you have access to these documents is always good idea when traveling abroad.

  1. Establish a Routine:

Get into the habit of returning documents to their designated spots after you use them. If you have any documents that you no longer need such as used tickets or past reservations, throw them away. A routine will help ensure everything stays organized throughout your trip. 

What Travel Documents Do I Need? Everything You May Need & Encounter Regarding Travel Documents

Backpack Travellers should utilize this list as a guide to what they may encounter in regards to travel documents. Then note how you will organize each item - will you store it physically in your bag, digitally on your smartphone, or both?

 

  1. Passport: Remember to also keep it easily accessible as international travelers often need to show their passport at every accommodation they check into.
    • It is recommended to have both a digital and physical copy stored of your passport.
    • Visa(s): If you require visas for your destination(s), they should be in or with your passport.
      1. ETA(s): Also known as 'Electronic Travel Authorizations'. These are becoming more and more common. In short, they are a pre-clearance and a fee for a traveler whose nationality falls under a Visa Waiver Program with the country they are entering. Once issued an ETA, they are often valid for numerous years and need to be shown at Customs.
        • US/UK/Australia/Canada Passport Holders - This is what you will need when you enter the European Schengen Zone in the future. Please note that the roll out of this program is now delayed until 2025. You can find the most current updates from the European Commission's website.
      1. Driver's License and/or International Driver's Permit: If you plan to rent any sort of vehicle, bring your driver's license. Some countries may require an 'International Driver's Permit' in order to rent a vehicle which in short translates the information on your driver's license into other languages. You'll most likely see this requirement in countries that don't use the Latin alphabet.
      1. Transportation Tickets: Train, bus, ferry, plane tickets, etc.
        • You also may travel to a country where they need proof of a future departure in order to issue a visa or to pass customs. If you encounter this situation but don't have fixed travel plans yet, check out our travel affiliates at Onward Ticket.
      1. Insurance: Keep a copy of your travel insurance policy and health insurance (if applicable). We recommend World Nomads.
        • If you do encounter a disturbance with your travel plans or health, you’ll want easy access to your travel insurance policy. For example, if you get sick while traveling, your travel insurance company may ask for a letter from the doctor you visited while traveling. Find out what they may need while you are at that destination instead of trying to hunt down documentation later.
      1. Vaccination Records: If required, carry proof of vaccinations or medical exemptions. Double check the vaccination requirements and/or recommendations before traveling to certain countries and regions.
        • Especially in regards to COVID-19 or Yellow Fever.
      1. Credit and Debit Cards: Bring necessary credit and debit cards, and notify your bank of your travel plans.
        • Consider bringing a credit card without foreign transaction fees.
      1. Cash: You'll want to keep some spare local currency and widely used currencies such US Dollars or Euros with you. You don't exactly need to carry cash in your pocket everywhere you go, but to know you have access if you ever need is important. We've encountered hostels and dormitories that don't even accept cards.
        • Even popular travel destinations such as Albania, Bulgaria, and Romania have very cash-based economies.
        • Keep in mind, with recent higher inflation in OECD (Organization of Economic Development) member countries, you may receive discounts if you pay in cash over card.
      1. Emergency Contact Information: Write down contact numbers of family and friends in case of an emergency. You may also want to have handy the information of your embassy or consulate.
      1. Accommodation Reservations: Print out or save accommodation reservations and address details. Often international customs would ask for at least one address of the places you are staying at. If you are doing a tour group, print out the tour itinerary. This is perfect proof to show customs.
      1. Travel Program Cards: Consider Global Entry, Clear, or TSA Pre-check program that helps you navigate through security and customs easier.
      1. Digital Travel Apps: This is a discussion on its own. There are so many useful apps out there. Download relevant travel apps (ex, airline apps, navigation, translation) on your smartphone and make sure to keep them in one folder so they are easily accessible.
      1. Prescription Medications: If you carry prescription medication, it is recommended to print out a short information sheet regarding your prescriptions.
      1. Writing Utensil: A simple pen is very useful for jotting down notes, addresses, or filling out customs forms.
      1. House Rules: If you are staying at a hostel or dormitory, usually you are given a small sheet of House Rules. This often lists important information such as wifi passwords, quiet hours, entry access codes etc. Make sure to keep this handy or even take a photo of it on your smartphone.
      1. Proof of Car Insurance: If you are renting a vehicle abroad, car rental companies will up-sell you on insurance. However, if you bring proof that you have insurance or are covered under a parent or partner's plan, you can save money and the headache of having to purchase their insurance plans.

      (Some friends and I backpack travelling Italy)

      My Personal Experience With A Travel Document Holder Pouch

      When I first started actually backpack travelling back in 2010, I used to just bring around a simple folder from school and print out all the documents. Looking back, I don't know what I was doing. I never purchased insurance and never stored on me extra cash or a secondary credit card. I was simply winging it and hoping for the best. Now in 2024, I have a lot more backpack travelling experience and therefore I have learned a lot. I now have more documents to store on me physically (and digitally).

      I have travel insurance and vehicle insurance. I carry more cash and always a secondary credit card. I also carry around a card to help me proceed faster through airport security and customs. Don't even get me started on bringing around my vaccination records. A simple, enclosed travel document pouch was exactly what I needed. A minimalist pouch that would keep all these documents in place. One where I can pull documents from as needed and be assured everything was there when I see it in my backpack. A travel document pouch that is in addition to and assists my wallet and doesn't replace it. I don't want to actually carry a lot of these documents in my day trips but having the peace of mind that it is locked away at my accommodation with everything inside is everything. 

       

      With these travel document organization tips in mind, Backpack Travellers can embark on your next adventure with confidence, knowing that your travel documents are neatly sorted and readily accessible. Also check out the perfect Travel Document Holder for you to organize your travel paperwork and documents.

       

      WRITTEN BY

      MARK CIPOLLINA

      I’m Mark, the Founder of Generation Nomad, Avid Travel Backpacker & Digital Nomad. I am passionate about helping others discover the world through my experiences. I solo backpacked for months at a time, lived abroad, and even speak two foreign languages. Besides collaborating on the best lightweight travel accessories for Travel Backpackers, I also love sharing my travel photography.
      Favorite Trips: Spain, Egypt & Vietnam 
      Favorite Cuisines: Italian, Peruvian & Japanese
      Quote: “Be a circle and just roll with it” 
      Back to blog