How to Secure Digital Travel Documents

How to Secure Travel Documents
Keep Your Files Secure!

I travel with a laptop that contains copies of my important travel documents in digital form. These documents are in special password protected folders. But what happens if my laptop get’s stolen, or breaks down?

Sure you can keep certain documents with family, but what if you need copies of them right away? Timezone differences and work schedules may interfere with getting replacements in a timely fashion.

You need to have a few of your own backups, but you also must make sure they are secure.

Examples of Digital Documents:

  • Copy of my Full Passport
  • Visa/Passport Sized Photos
  • Copy of Yellow Immunization Card
  • Copy of Birth Certificate
  • Copy of Social Security Card
  • Passwords to Important Websites
  • Medical History
  • Travel Insurance Information
  • Bank Accounts & Credit Card Information

As you can see, this is not the kind of stuff you want in the hands of thieves! So you should keep it ultra-secure. I backup this sensitive information in two different ways…

Iron Key USB
Iron Key

Bombproof USB Thumb Drive

I use a password protected USB drive with government level security. It’s called the Iron Key. This thing is fantastic. It’s made with high-end components, and will last 10 times longer than a typical USB drive. It has a tamper & waterproof case. After 10 failed password attempts, it automatically destroys all your data.

It also includes a special self-contained version of the Firefox Web browser. This lets you safely use an internet cafe computer anywhere in the world without worrying about the security of surfing the web on public computers. You’ll be browsing on your very own virus-free copy of Firefox.

When you download the LastPass Firefox Extension to keep track of all your passwords, you’ll also never have to manually type your passwords into a strange computer again. This protects against keyboard logger programs that can track everything you type.

I have the 4GB version of the Iron Key because I also use it to share photos, videos, and music with other travelers.

Secret Email Account

Another tactic I use to back up all my sensitive information is with a second, secret email account. I never use it for email, it’s only purpose is to store my digital information. I create password protected PDF or ZIP documents containing my files & information, then attach them to an email message that I send to myself using this account.

That way if someone happens to look over my shoulder to learn the login details for my regular email account, the personal information stored on my secret email account will remain safe & secure.

It may all seem a bit overkill, but planning for the unexpected gives me peace of mind. I really don’t want to become the example of a travel horror story. :)

Travel Planning Resources

Packing Guide

Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip. Pick up a travel backpack, camera gear, and other useful travel accessories.

Book Your Flight

Book cheap flights on Skyscanner, my favorite airline search engine to find deals. Also read my tips for how I find the cheapest flights.

Rent A Car

Discover Cars is a great site for comparing car prices to find the best deal. They search both local & international rental companies.

Book Accommodation is my favorite hotel search engine. Or rent local apartments on Airbnb ($35 discount!). Read my post for tips on booking cheap hotels.

Protect Your Trip

Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of World Nomads for short-term trips. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance.


I hope you enjoyed my guide on how to secure Digital Travel Documents! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:

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Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 10 years as a blogger, photographer, and digital nomad. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel with crazy stories, beautiful photos, and money-saving travel tips.
Matthew Karsten
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Comments (9)

  1. This article seems to be missing some photos, but I get the general idea. I’ve been using Evernote (Especially with it’s new apps where you photography a document and it uploads it for you) and Dropbox. Plus I have a few different email accounts. I also keep a few copies on my phone’s SD card. But keep the SD card data encrypted.

  2. Great.

    A separate email account just for storing docs – or at least an account you are not going to use on your travels – good idea.

    I read about iron key before (pricey). What is the feature “It also includes a special self-contained version of the Firefox Web browser, so you can safely use an internet cafe computer anywhere in the world without worrying about security.”?

    How does that work?

    • Rather than using the web browser that is installed on a strange internet cafe computer, you have your own personal secure copy of Firefox loaded on the Iron Key USB drive. You can plug it in and use the internet with you own browser, use your own bookmarks, and not worry about the safety of browsing from some random internet cafe.

  3. I’m so glad to see that you are doing everything in your power to keep your info safe. So, that leads me to believe that you do at least as much to keep yourself safe on your travels!