“Did I bring all the (travel) documents I need?” I’m sure you already asked yourself this question while walking to the Immigration or Passport Control. It doesn’t matter if we are traveling for a quick trip or an around the world trip, we’re always unsure and questioned ourselves if we carry all the documents we needed.
Going through the immigration control is a bit anxious especially if you’re traveling to a different country and culture, may it be for the first time or not. That’s why it is always advised to have all your documents ready just in case they want to check everything before giving you that welcome stamp on your passport. To help you with this bureaucratic task, I listed the 10 essential travel documents you must always have when traveling.
Every country has its own immigration rules and regulations, and it depends on which passport you hold, the law can be different. The first thing you should do before buying that sale flight ticket you find is to search at your embassy website the visa requirements for the country or destination you want to visit.
Now that you already know if you’ll need a visa or not, you can go through this checklist and prepare your documents. Always make sure to have your travel documents in your carry-on bag. Nobody wants to get stuck in the immigration or passport control due to some damn travel document you forgot in your luggage.
Obviously, your passport is the most important document you must have when traveling. You cannot go outside of your country, much more enter a country without it. Always keep in mind that your passport must be valid at least six months after the date you are traveling. Each country has their own date limits, some countries are three months but mostly are six months. So, if your travel dates and the expiration of your passport is a bit tight, it’s better to get a brand new one. Getting a new passport take some time, so, be smart and work fast!
Always check if you need to apply for a visa or not, before leaving your country. As a Philippine passport holder, I can visit more or less 65 countries visa-free or visa-on-arrival. It means that I do not need to apply for a visa in advance, and just show up at the airport.
How do you get to know if you need a visa or not? Google will always be your best friend. Have a look on the embassy website of the country you’re planning to visit, they will give you all the information you need as well as the steps you should follow to get a tourist visa. Some countries offer the option to do the visa in advance or on arrival. I recommend you to sort out everything first before traveling. Lastly, if Google gives you confusing information, you can always contact the embassy by directly emailing or calling them.
TAKE THE SHOTS
There are a lot of diseases around the world, and some of them can be easily avoided by taking a vaccine. As a traveler, the most common protection ask is against Yellow Fever, but there are others that you should know. You can find the complete list by visiting the World Health Organization website here. You can also find useful tips about food safety and health protection. Have the list on hand because, in some countries, you can’t pass the passport control without the vaccine they ask for.
YOU MUST HAVE A WAY OUT
As a long-term traveler, this is a major thing. When I left the Philippines to travel around Southeast Asia, I had a return ticket that I didn’t use. It was all because for Immigration Control purposes, the good thing, that ticket was quite cheap. Most of the countries require an outbound ticket (flight, bus, or train) booked, and they do ask for it at the passport control. Your onward or return ticket is a proof that you won’t overstay in your destination.
In my six months of traveling around Southeast Asia, I have never been once asked for an onward ticket. But I always make sure to have one ready, just in case.
HOME SWEET NEW HOME
Book your hotel or hostel or apartment in advance and have all the details (address and contact information) on hand. Even better if you printed the documents that show the website you used to book your accommodation, it’s more trustworthy. I know that you can manage your hotel booking on the mobile app or from your email, but be aware that there are countries that required a hard copy of your accommodation booking.
If you’re going to stay in a family or friend’s house, ask them to write a formal letter stating that they will be hosting you for some period. The letter must also have all your information as well as your host personal details. Lastly, it should be signed to make it look more formal and legal.
ALWAYS PLAY SAFE, HAVE THAT TRAVEL INSURANCE
Travel insurance is not just an essential document, but it is also a travel requirement you must follow especially if you’re traveling abroad and will be doing activities. It doesn’t matter if you go for three days or for life adventure (like me), you will always need protection that can literally save you and your luggage. Although it is not usually asked when entering a country, YOU MUST HAVE IT. So, if anything goes wrong, you have a back up to cover your expenses.
Since I started traveling indefinitely, I use World Nomads for my travel insurance. Aside from the usual dental and medical benefits, World Nomads, cover flight delays, cancellation, and lost baggage among others. With a minimal fee, you can also ensure your high-end gadget which is so useful for me as a digital nomad. You can buy your travel insurance here.
SHOW ME THE MONEY
Although I never had any experience about this, some countries may ask you to prove that you have the funds to travel. They might ask this while you are applying for a visa before your trip, or they will do it when you pass by the passport control. So, I recommend you to carry on your financial documents (latest bank statement or a receipt from your credit card). Or any other bank documents that will show you have plenty of money to get into, around and out of their country.
INTERNATIONAL DRIVER LICENCE
If you’re planning to explore a new country by road, it’s better to have the correct and essential travel document. You must have an international driver license. But before that, look online if your destination country accepts the foreign driving license. Some countries accept international driver license while there are others that do not.
And just a heads up for all driving travelers, with your international driver license you can drive almost around the world, but it doesn’t mean you will be able to. Because in some places you need more than a driver license, you need guts!
PHOTOS IN DIFFERENT SIZES
Make sure to have a photo of yourself in different sizes. Some countries will ask for a picture while issuing your visa and if you do not have one, you might pay a fine, or in the worst scenario, you will lose your place in the queue and will have to run around trying to find the nearest photo machine. I’m sure, this is not an experience you want to put on your travel resume. So, always have some pictures with you and put them together with your travel documents.
CLONE YOUR ALL YOUR TRAVEL DOCUMENTS
Lastly, although this is not a proper travel document, it is a copy of all the documents we have listed above! Gather all your essential travel documents and got to the nearest copy machine, and do at least 2 copies each. Why? Because you might need them!
Usually, to get a sim card abroad, you need to show your passport and sometimes, hotel address. Don’t expect to find copy or print machine on the front desk everywhere because in some places, booking is still done by paper and pen.
With this travel documents on hand, I’m sure you’ll not have any problems passing the passport control. However, before flying or traveling by any means, to any country in the world, have a look at their official tourism website or even directly to their embassy. International regulations can change anytime, and some countries are applying a more strict policy.
To avoid any misunderstanding, organize your 10 essential travel documents in advance and keep them in your handbag or carry-on luggage. I’ve been traveling continuously for almost 6 months now with this essential documents, and I never had any problem entering or exiting any country.
Have you had any problem with the passport control? Do you carry these 10 essential travel documents with you? Or your personal list is bigger than mine? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. I’d love to hear about it!
This post might be helpful when you’re looking for a list of essential travel documents that you must have for your upcoming trip. Hover the image on the left and pin it for later!