At home, the most important documents you carry in your wallet are your driver's license and car insurance card. But when you travel, especially abroad, there are additional important documents to keep safe, but also close at hand:
- Tickets and itinerary
- Traveler's checks and their serial numbers
- Driver's license (local and/or international)
- Reservation documentation for hotels, tours, etc.
- Travel insurance documentation
- Credit cards
If an item is truly important, the safest place to keep it is directly on your person. That way, there is zero chance that you will leave it on a chair or inside a bathroom stall.
Your carry-on bag and purse are less secure because they aren't always under your control. A traveler lays down a carry-on or purse or laptop for any number of reasons, while traveling—for example, when checking in at the gate, when browsing for magazines in the airport store, when washing hands in the restroom.
Those periods of separation may be brief, but they add up. The point is that your carry-on is often physically separated from you, and that means it is less safe for storing anything you really can't afford to lose.
Manufacturers of travel products sell document holders of many different types. All are designed to contain and hide valuables under your clothing. These include money belts and various types of document pockets that dangle by thin straps hung around your neck. Although clever pickpockets do have ways of targeting them, the hidden document holders do make their job more difficult. Even your clothing, itself, has some safer spots for important items. Your front pants pockets, for example, are somewhat more secure than rear pockets, and inside pockets are safer than outside pockets.
If, despite all precautions, your documents do get lost or stolen, the next line of defense is to be prepared to act swiftly, once it's happened. Here are some tips in case of loss:
- Before departure, make multiple copies of everything that‘s important—not just documents, but also the front and back of each credit card.
- Store several copies of each in different places throughout your luggage. That way, you’d have to lose all of your luggage to be stuck without a copy of everything.
- Leave the last copy at home with a family member or friend, in case the unthinkable happens and you are separated from all of your possessions.
Although copies do not have the official standing of the originals, they can help speed the process of replacing a lost document. If you lose credit cards, for example, use the information on the copies to immediately phone the card company and report the loss.