Travel Tip #8: Scan passports into the cloud
Misfortune follows the unprepared, and when the stakes are high, the misfortunes are magnified. Not to be a total bummer, but bad things can happen on vacation. Usually they don’t, but if they do, it is best to be prepared. The following tips can help ease your time if something unfortunate should happen. First, your passport. Anything you have to take an oath to get is probably pretty important, useful, expensive and hard to replace (see also: marriage license). It is your ticket into, and, equally important, out of a country, so guard it with your life. Those guys at the airport are not going to give you a break because you are nice-they want the passport and they want it now. The reason you can’t smile in your photo? These guys say so.
Before you leave, scan your passport and save it as a pdf or similar, then email it to yourself. You can also put it on a flash drive, but those things get lost in my pocket, so better to put into the cloud where it is safe. Now they are accessible you at anytime. In the old days, we made copies of our passports and left one set at home and carried the other in a waterproof bag tucked away in our luggage. This is still an acceptable thing to do, but remember copies can be lost, too. I have never lost a passport or spoken to someone who has, but should this happen (you poor bastard), contact the nearest consulate. The contact information is available in the front or back of the guidebook you brought (you brought a a guidebook, right?-$15 is a small part of your travel budget!) or in the travel document you made with all of the emergency contact. If you do not have either of these, just Google it- a panicky search for “US consulates” brings http://www.usembassy.gov/ as the first result. When you contact them, at least you can prove that you had one and it should make replacing one easier.
When visiting a foreign country, you technically should have your passport on you at all times. I feel this is a judgment call; if you feel that you passport is safer at the hotel than on you, leave it behind. However, if you are doing something so dangerous your passport is in jeopardy, you may want to rethink the plan for the day.
Know Before You Go
Scan your passport and email it to yourself; if it saved to your desktop, it is not much use to you.
Do not lose your passport.