Travel Tips

Eight Travel Tips To Get You There & Back Safely

1. Passports

Make a color copy of your passport to carry with you. If you have a safe in your hotel, leave your original passport there and carry the color copy with you.

Email a PDF copy of your passport’s photo page to yourself on an account which can be accessed via the web (not only your phone). If you lose everything, you can access this digital copy, print it out and it will help facilitate getting a new one.

2. Luggage

Make sure checked luggage has an ID tag on outside with an address inside. Some people recommend you put your work address on there. That way, if your luggage is stolen, thieves do not know where you live.

Put additional info (like a copy of your itinerary) inside your bags bag in case they get lost or delayed. I put my info in the bag’s external pocket.

Don’t check chargers (cell, camera, laptop) in checked luggage because if it goes missing you could be out of luck.

Check your credit cards before you leave for lost or delayed baggage insurance. You may be covered for the cost of replacement or incidentals of your bags go missing and your ticket was purchased with that card. Amex offers this for a fee attached to every air ticket purchase.

If you must check luggage and are traveling with a partner, share space in each bag so in case one goes missing, you’ll still have something to wear in your partner’s bag.

Pack light. If you can, carry on everything. You don’t need that much, really. I can pack for 2 weeks in winter in one 22″ rolling bag.

3. Flights

Know your rights- called a “contract of carriage” which tells you what the airline owes you if you get bumped or your flight is canceled.

Call the airline immediately for re-booking-this can be faster than waiting in line at the airport.

Have the airline’s 800 reservation number with you.

Pick your best seat at

4. Pickpockets & Scams

Pickpockets happen. Be aware of your surroundings. Carry the bare minimum with you each day and leave the rest locked up back at your hotel or apartment.

Read up on the local scams at your destination.

Empty out your wallet before you leave home. Don’t bring unnecessary cards with you. Do you really need your Macy’s card in Timbuktu?

Make copies of every card you bring, front and back, in case your bag gets stolen. Email this to yourself (see passport instructions).

5. Money Issues

Call your bank before you go to let them know where and when you are traveling so they do not hold/cancel your cards when they see foreign charges.

Check on foreign transaction fees. Find out if it’s a flat rate on withdrawals or a percentage. Some banks charge flat rates on ATm withdrawals, some charge percentages, some charge both. Credit Unions tend to have better rates.

For example, Citibank does not charge a fee if you use their ATM’s in other countries, but if it’s not a Citibank ATM, they charge 3%. Some banks a flat rate (up to $5) and a percentage. One Credit Union account we have charges $1 per transaction, another charges 1%. Some are free.

If the difference between 1% and 3% does not sound like much, consider this; say you will need to come up with 1300 euros to pay for an apartment rental in Rome. 1300 euros at 1% =12 euro ($17). 3%= 36 euro ($50). Add to that any other cash and it starts to add up just for the “privilege” of using your bank’s ATM card.

Carry a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.

Find out what your daily/weekly ATM withdrawal limit is and increase it if necessary (to pay for an apartment for example).

Sometimes ATM cards get stuck in the machine. If possible use the machine at a bank, during open hours so you can get them to open the machine. If not, and your card gets stuck, call your bank immediately and cancel the card (remember those front and back copies?)

ATM-Do you have a 4 digit PIN #?

6. Medical:

Do you have travel medical insurance? What does it cover?

Consider buying travel insurance, especially if going to a 3rd world country with poor medical care. make usre the coverage includes evacuation insurance. Even in more “westernized” countries, it can be a good idea to have extra coverage. Many US health insurance companies will not cover you outside the US, and getting reimbursed even for emergency care is difficult at best. Bring info and phone numbers with you.

7. Rental Cars:

Check your credit card rental car insurance coverage. In some countries, like Italy, the extra insurance is mandatory.

Make sure the agent checks and marks all dents and dings when you pick up and drop off the car.

Don’t leave anything in the car, especially anything visible. Put everything in the trunk before you get to your destination, not in the parking lot where thieves can see you do it. Leave a local newspaper (in the local language) on the car dash to make it look less like a rental.

8. Disaster, Terrorism

Leave a full copy of your itinerary, including flights, dates, etc with someone back home.

Scenarios: A plane goes down on the airline you are flying-friends and family wonder if you are on that flight. Or, there’s a huge earthquake in one of the cities you are visiting- are you there that day?


  • KC

    These are great tips, and you have a fantastic website. Your thorough research, detailed posts and fascinating destinations are inspiring. Keep it up!

  • Daniel

    That’s a great idea about a color copy and emailing that copy to yourself. I made a bw copy last time I left the states, but I’ll follow your tips next time for sure 🙂

    • wired2theworld

      Yes, I think I may need to adjust that. Unfortunately, it seems that Citibank seems to be finding more and more ways to charge fees now.

  • Fellow traveler

    The color copy saved me even in domestic travel when I lost my driver license on a work trip and still had additional flights to make before I was home. I went to Kinkos, printed out my color copy of my DL and the TSA people actually accepted it along with my Costco card and my checkbook as supplemental ID!

    I also take all of this information, as well as copies of all my travel stuff, insurance, etc and put them on a USB stick and encrypt it with a free encryption software (called USB Vault or something like that). You can put it on two cheap 1GB USB drives and put one in you and your partner’s bags to split it up “just in case”. Light, small and only has to save you once to make it all worth it!

    • wired2theworld

      What a great comment, thanks! I very rarely think to bring color copies with me when I travel domestically, but I think I’m going to start!

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