I actually saw this on a list of top new traveller questions, and figured it'd be a good one to have on here.

Obviously with international travel, you'll need your passport, but are there any other important documents you should consider taking with you when travelling?

  • 1
    There will be a lot of "it depends" stuff I think. Places you need special permits for or where there are special police registration requirements for tourists as in Russia. And of course there's licence plus possibly international license if you're planning to drive. In Mexico you must not throw away or lose your tourist card, you must have papers for your vehicle, etc. Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 19:57
  • "Obviously with international travel, you'll need your passport" Not necessarily. There are other travel documents that are used too, e.g. Certificate of identity, Alien's passport, Refugee travel document, etc. with varying degrees of acceptance by various countries.
    – user102008
    Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 3:02

5 Answers 5


For contingent purposes, I always carry the following, in no particular order:

  • Printed copies of my passport and visas (also electronically on my mobile and laptop)
  • Printed and electronic copy of my travel itinerary (I use TripIt on my mobile, and it's always there anyway).
  • Printed copy of my accommodation confirmation (if available)
  • Visa-supporting travelling documents (e.g. invitation letter)
  • Additional means of identification -- be it driving license or national ID card -- in case something happens to your passport. At the very least, your embassy would like to see these.

I also store encrypted electronic copies of the most important travelling documents on a cloud storage service, e.g. Dropbox.


For travel in many South American and African countries you will also need an international Certificate of Vaccination card proving that you have the required vaccinations (eg yellow fever). While you might be able to get the shots at the border it is much easier (and possibly safer) to get them at home before you travel.

I would also recommend keeping a list of your credit and debit cards together with the phone numbers to call in case you lose them.

In some countries (eg Argentina) you will want to keep proof of purchase of local currency so that you will be allowed to exchange any remaining pesos back to dollars when you leave.

  • 1
    Critically, you often can't get these shots at the boarder so be sure to look into this before hand. Yellow Fever vaccinations for example, must be administered 10 days before entering or leaving a country that requires it. I found this out the hard way when leaving Colombia on my first of 6 connecting flights. Fortunately, being Colombia, the nice lady at the airport sold me a back dated Certificate of Vaccination for $80 USD, saving me, probably, several thousand in missed flights. Not something you'd want to depend on though!
    – Molomby
    Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 2:06
  • @tekretic Thanks for that info. I edited my answer a bit. On the Bolivian border you can get vaccinations (or probably buy the certificate!). I agree it is much better to get it ahead of time. I felt a bit sick for 2-3 days after all my vaccinations so don't wait until the last day before your trip. Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 14:37
  • @Molomby aren't Colombians awesome? ;) haha anyhow, this is the first time I've heard of vaccination requirements for travel in S.A... is there like a central list of countries and what they ask for proof of vaccinations? Who would inquire about vaccinations upon arrival? Immigration officers or is it the airlines? Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 3:50
  • I read about S.A. vaccination requirements in the health section of Lonely Planet guide for these countries. Try wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list for more details. Immigration asks (when they feel like it) Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 7:32

Some other documents that haven't been mentioned - some of these may fall into the 'paranoia' category, I'm not recommending all of these for every trip:

  • Loose visas or similar documents not attached to your passport
  • Airline boarding passes etc. (not just international)
  • Travel Insurance documentation (also, for intra-European travel, the EHIC)
  • Details of the local consulate/embassy for your home country
  • Copies of past itineraries, boarding passes etc. for the country/ies you are visting - in case of questions at the border about duration of past visits
  • Company/corporate ID if on a business trip

In addition to the other suggestions...

  • Contact details for your banks and insurer in case of theft or lost items or cards.
  • Contact details for your friends and family. (Ie.. Got mugged and urgently need to contact your parents? Hope they didn't take your phone!)
  • Not so much something to carry but make sure you actually know your email/facebook/etc passwords (and don't just rely on the 'remember me' function when logging in from your netbook or ipad).

[Edit 2014 Feb]

  • Also, you really should be using 2-factor authentication on all important online services (Gmail, Dropbox, Facebook all support 2-factor auth using Google's fantastic Authenticator mobile app). If you're doing this, make sure you carry some recovery codes in case your phone is stolen.

In addition to all that if you intend to get behind the wheel of a car, plane, boat and so on you will need to carry licenses to that effect such as a driver's possibly with International Driving Permit.

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