Preparation is an important part of any trip, and packing can be stressful for some travelers.
While the contents of your suitcase may change depending on the unique purpose and destination, here are a few key documents you’ll want to make sure are always with you, no matter where your travels take you:
Driver’s license, passport, and travel visa
These documents are required for most forms of travel. While passports and travel visas are commonly associated with international travel, domestic travelers may want to consider packing a passport even while traveling within the U.S.
Beginning in May 2025, domestic travelers are required to have a Real ID, which is an identification card that meets the standards laid out by the U.S. government in the Real ID Act of 2005. The Real ID driver’s license looks very similar to your current driver’s license, except it includes a new star icon on the top right corner. For travelers without a Real ID, a valid passport or TSA-approved ID is an acceptable alternative for domestic travel.
Copies of all identification documents
Savvy travelers know to expect the unexpected. Having photocopies of your important documents can save you a headache in the event your important travel documents are lost.
Keep your original documents with you, either in your carry-on or personal item. One copy of each of these identification documents can be stored in each checked bag.
These copies can help you in multiple situations. Lose original identification? You’ve got copies to get you new ones—or get you home. Lose a bag? The airline or tour group has extra identification to prove that it is indeed your luggage.
We also recommend making digital copies and leaving them at home with a trusted loved one that can help if you need access to them while away.
Travel insurance plan details
While a hard copy of your travel insurance certificate can oftentimes be very long (30-60 pages depending on the plan), you may be glad to have a copy if you need to refer to the fine print of your plan due to a stressful situation.
Luckily, most travel insurance companies have a mobile app that can hold your travel insurance plan information, as well as all the information you need to call them and start the claims process. Many companies will email your certificate to you. You can keep this file handy in your email inbox or download the PDF to your smartphone. If you download the information prior to leaving on your trip, you won’t need a data plan or wireless internet to access it. For a travel insurance quote, click here.
Travel itinerary details
Whether you have only one reservation or several, you’ll want to keep copies of your itinerary in your travel luggage. This can help in myriad ways. We particularly recommend having digital and hard copies as proof that you already paid for a flight or hotel to avoid any questions if you arrive and there’s a problem with your reservation.
If you purchased tickets for an event or tour, even if you’re picking up your tickets at will call, you’ll want some documentation showing that you already paid for the event. If you’re traveling with the actual tickets, you can also bring proof of purchase with you as a backup.
Also, if you should need to call your travel insurance company for any reason, you’ll have all the details on hand to explain the situation without hesitation.