Why you shouldn’t rely completely on your device for travel documents

We are in the age of tech-savvy travellers and, indeed, technology offers a world of assistance when you travel. However, in our experience, relying on your phone, tablet, or laptop as the only place where you keep your documents is a bad idea. We always recommend that clients keep a hard copy/print out of documents on hand, just in case.

There are many things that can go wrong with your device which could leave you in a real pickle if you don’t have hard copies. These include:

  • Theft of your device (or risking theft by having to take your device out in order to access the tickets)
  • Flat battery and nowhere to recharge
  • Mobile tickets are not an option
  • Broken device
  • Officials won’t allow you access to your device (for example, if you are pulled aside by customs or immigrations officials)
  • Your sim card doesn’t work in the country so you have no data in order to access cloud-based storage
  • You don’t have a local sim card and can’t phone or text someone to send you the document if you get stuck.

In travel, despite your best efforts, many things can and do go wrong. Save yourself the potential stress and keep a print-out on hand. 


Think it can’t happen? These are real stories:

Damaged phone: Our clients were travelling by train in Italy during rail strikes. They had their train tickets on their phone. Due to the strikes, the station was extremely crowded and, in a rush of people to catch the train, the phone was knocked out of the client’s hand, fell to the ground, and smashed. He could no longer access the tickets and was denied boarding. His phone was also beyond repair and the rail company could not replace it.

Cracked laptop screen: One of our staff members was travelling from France to the UK, and had planned to access her documents as she travelled on her laptop. On the Eurostar journey from Paris to London, a heavy suitcase was placed on top of her laptop bag and the laptop’s screen was cracked. She could no longer access the necessary documents on her laptop. She had backed them up on a flash drive but the hotel did not want to put this into their computer due to risk of viruses. Fortunately, she had also emailed her documents to the office and we were able to forward these to the hotel for printing.

Flat battery: A client had saved his transfer information on his phone, which he was planning to use on the plane to watch movies. He had packed his charger but, unfortunately, the particular plane did not have charging ports and he arrived at his destination with a flat battery…and no access to his documents.  

Operator doesn’t accept mobile tickets: Many companies, usually rail as well as events, do not accept mobile tickets and insist on an actual ticket. This will be stated on the ticket and we always advise clients of this but, still, we have had several travellers who did not take their ticket in hard copy form, and had to negotiate with conductors to be allowed to board and, in one case, were asked to leave the train. You do not need this stress when you travel!  

 

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