This is Part 2 of a two-part series on Travel Documents. In Part 1, we talked about:
- having proof that you are the parents of your children, particularly if you are traveling to South Africa;
- ensuring your passports are valid for 180 days after the end of your travels, and;
- making sure you have all the necessary visas, including for those countries you’re just visiting.
In Part 2, we’ll talk about health documents, having printed tickets and reservations, and the International Driver’s Permit.
4. Health Documents
These include an immunization card, a yellow fever card (if needed), and a letter from the doctor regarding any prescriptions you are carrying. The latter came in handy when Anthony left his backpack with our daughter’s medication in it on the train in Italy. We were able to take the doctor’s note to a pharmacy and have her prescription filled on the spot!
Another point to remember if you’re traveling with prescription medications, is that some countries, like Australia, will only allow you to bring in a three month supply of medication. Since we were traveling longer than that, we had to have the additional medication mailed to us in Australia.
5. Printed copies of tickets and reservations (airline tickets, hotel and Airbnb reservations, etc.)
Although you’ll have all of this information electronically, print it off anyway. It’s possible that when you need it, your smartphone will be out of power, the connection will be poor, or something else will happen. I was really glad I had a paper copy of our hotel reservation in Delhi, India, particularly when the hotel couldn’t find it in their system! In Goa, India, we couldn’t get in the airport because the mobile version of our reservation didn’t show the date of the flight! We had to get physical tickets from the airline counter outside, just to get in the airport.
Also note on your printed copies the time of your reservations in a format you understand. I misread a 1:50 departure as 1:50PM, instead of 1:50AM because I’m not used to the 24 hour clock. This is how we lost our original flight home, and ended up flying through Turkey (see #3 in Travel Documents – Part 1).
6. International Drivers Permit (IDP)
This is particularly important if you plan to rent a car and a) your driver’s license is not in English, or b) you are renting a car from a country that does not accept a driver’s license written in English. We didn’t really need an IDP, as South Africa, Australia and New Zealand all accepted driver’s licenses that were in English. I recommend getting an IDP if you plan on renting a car in another country.
If you have any travel document tips you would like to add, leave it in the comment box below.
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How did you go about having your meds sent to Australia? We will be traveling there soon on a 12-month visa and have been trying to work out how we’ll get our meds.
I filled out the customs form and pre-paid the postage before we left, then left the package with a friend to drop off closer to the time we would be in Australia. I had it sent to an Airbnb house that we would be staying at for a few days, with the host’s permission. Unfortunately, the package never came on time, but our Airbnb host kindly mailed it onto us in New Zealand and it all worked out in the end. Good luck! Let me know if you have any more questions about it.
Thanks Sabrina. Do you remember approximately how long the shipment took to arrive?
I don’t recall exactly. We got 1 box on time, but the other box seemed to have been delayed at Customs, so it was over 3 weeks before it caught up to me in New Zealand! The post office should be able to tell you approximate times, barring any issues with Customs.