Travel Planning: Getting your Travel Documents Together

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Aug 05, 2015 / 0 comments

As much as you might want to jet off into the sunset and forget all about your responsibilities, there are a few mundane things to organize before you travel, and these are things that should not be overlooked. Alongside routine endeavors like buying travel insurance and alerting your bank of your movements, you also need to make sure your papers are in order! It can be hard to know what it is exactly that you need to prepare, so we’ve outlined the basics of what you need to organize if you want to avoid any paperwork nightmares.

Travel Insurance Documents

If the worst comes to the worst and you unfortunately do need medical attention whilst away, then it’s imperative that you have your travel insurance documents with you. You will need them to check your cover, your excess, and the procedures you must go through to ensure you do not invalidate your insurance.

Typically you will have a certificate, policy fine print, and policy-wording document. The certificate is usually one page that states your level of cover, any optional extras, and the number to call in emergencies. All three are important, but make a note of your policy number and the contact number.

It is advisable to make insurance a priority, but remember that even if you neglected to buy any it's still possible to claim for compensation through sites such as


This can be quite a complex issue and the rules regarding validity etc. will vary depending on the country/countries that you plan to visit. Many require at least six months validity, or a certain amount of empty pages while others have no specifications. Check your passport’s expiry before booking as renewals can take an inordinate amount of time to be processed and always remember to make photocopies of your passport and take them with you.


The array of visa types is enormous, so apply for the right one, follow instructions completely, and leave plenty of time for it to be issued. Print the receipt, evidence of your approved status, and keep supporting details to hand as some countries require bank statements, passport photos or even countersignatures.


Some visas require ‘proof of onward travel’, so ensure you have any required evidence to hand. Never rely on having Wi-Fi to access your emails (this is not always a given), instead have hard copies. Print your hotel booking, your transfers, your flight confirmation and anything else that you think you’ll need!


Whatever you want to do whilst away, take your relevant paperwork. Perhaps you want to go diving, rent a motorbike, drive a van or hire a car; and for all of these you will need proof that you are legally eligible. Take the originals, and make photocopies.

Health Documents

Ensure your vaccinations are up to date, and carry your vaccine record with your passport at all times. If you need medication (especially on the plane) or if you’re traveling with a life-saving medical device, make sure your proof and prescriptions are up to date.

Make three hard copies of all your documents and place one copy in your hand luggage, another in your large backpack/suitcase, and leave the final one at home with loved ones. For added assurance, make digital copies and store them on your phone or a USB drive.
Once you have ensured that you are carrying all of the above, you can then focus on having a great trip!