Indispensable Travel Gadgets – Document Holder

Whether you travel domestically or internationally, you are going to have documents. Plane tickets, hotel reservations, rental car confirmation, tour itineraries, maps, important numbers… Some of that will be on your smartphone but much of it will be on paper.

As you travel, you will accumulate more such papers.

One great travel gadget will help to not only keep all these papers organized but provide several other benefits as well. If you choose carefully.

I’m talking about a plastic document folder. You might find one in the school supplies section of discount stores such as Target, Wal-mart, K-mart, etc. You’ll almost certainly find them in office supply stores such as Staples and Office Depot. You may even already have one at home!

There are a number of important features you should look for when choosing a document folder:

  • Made of plastic. This makes it waterproof and protects your travel documents from rain and spilled drinks. It also generally makes it more durable and able to withstand the rigors of travel.
  • Large. You must be able to fit a full 8½”x11″ (or A4) sheet of paper inside without folding it. This is important, for reasons I will explain. A good envelope can hold as much as 50-100 sheets of paper. (You’ll never have that many but the extra capacity is nice.)
  • Transparent. You should be able to see the outermost sheets of paper on both sides without opening the envelope. This means it cannot have logos, stickers, etc.
  • Easy to open. You should be able to open the envelope, when necessary, without a lot of fuss.
  • Securely closes. When closed, you want to be reasonably certain that it will stay closed. The one I use has a velcro closure that satisfies both of these last two requirements.

When you organize all your travel documents, you’ll want to place them in a specific order.

On one side of the stack, facing outward, should be your travel itinerary. This lists all the places you will go, things you will do, etc. If the itinerary is multiple pages, the page on top should always be the one most relevant to the current day of your trip. As the trip progresses and all the items on the first page are completed, move that page toward the middle of the stack to expose the next page.

On the other side of the stack, also facing outward, you always want the document most relevant to the next thing you will be doing. That might be the boarding passes for the flight you are about to board, the reservations for the hotel where you’re staying tonight, confirmation for the rental car you’re about to pick up, etc.

Once you’ve checked in, finished a tour, gotten the keys to the rental car or what have you, move that document toward the middle of the stack. This should expose the document you will need for the next thing you’re about to do.

In general, you should only need to open the envelope to reorder papers as just described or to hand one to someone for processing, closer inspection, etc.

In this way, even without opening the envelope, you can quickly and easily see both your overall itinerary and the details of the next thing you will be doing. All other items are somewhere in the middle of the stack. This also alleviates much of the danger of your papers getting misplaced, damaged, or strewn about.

If you really want to be hyper-organized, get two colored sheets of paper and use them as dividers to separate “used” documents (always in the very middle of the stack) from those that are queued up to be shown when needed.

Following this process will ensure smoother, more trouble-free travel for you and everyone in your party.

Finally, do not put money, credit cards or your passport in the folder. This is not a secure location. It will be handed out quite a bit and its transparency means that even casual onlookers can see if your envelope contains valuables. That will make you a target for petty thieves.

This is strictly a document holder but, as a document holder, can become one of your most-used and most indispensable travel gadgets.

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