Paperwork

Leaving Important Information at Home

Leaving behind the most important information is absolutely essential for travelling smart. What happens if you get to your destination, and realize you’ve left your folder on the plane? What happens if you end up under a bus, and you have all your account and contact information lodged in your (not so) pretty little head? Disaster, that’s what.

But have no fear! You can avoid these blunders by simply leaving a copy behind with someone you trust. It’s almost too simple, really. And if you’re trying to figure out what to put in your little Emergency Information Pack for your designated Secret Information Holder Extraordinaire, err on the side of extra. It’s better to include things that they probably won’t need, and have them need them, than to include not enough and be screwed. Following? Good.

So, what to include, you may ask? Here are the things that I included. Depending on your circumstances, you may have additional things that you should leave. Also, depending on your length of trip, you may have to make other arrangements.

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 Your Plan

This is super important, for a couple of reasons. First, your friends and family will probably want to know where you are (for obvious reasons). Knowing that you are somewhere in the general western region of continental Europe probably isn’t good enough for them. Just sayin’. The other reason why you should leave this behind is so they can track your progress. If you say that you will be arriving in London on April 6th, according to your flight information, they can check online to see the status of your plane, and to see if you are stranded in some God-Knows-Where airport with no way to contact anyone. Better safe than sorry.

Copies of Your Passport/Healthcard

Losing your passport while abroad would be the absolute worst. But, just in case that happens, you should not only carry notarized copies of your passport(s), but you should also leave notarized copies behind in your package. This way, there are 2 sets of proof that you are, in fact, who you say you are, and can help you down the line.

Banking Information

Your bank account could be filled to the brim with earnings…or it could be coated in cobwebs. Either way, you need to leave copies of your important banking information. What happens if you end up under a bus? Or eaten by the lions you so want to see in Africa? What about all that beautiful money in your bank account? Someone might need to access it. On a less dire note, what if you simply get stranded somewhere with no more money? I know that I cannot access my online banking outside of Canada, so I need my mum to do any transfers that I may need.

Power of Attorney Forms

This is just one of those things. If you have it, you probably won’t need to us it. But, if you don’t get it, you will probably need it. Lovely the way the world works isn’t it? So…just get it. Yeah, yeah, it’s one more thing to do, you’re so excited to be going abroad, the last thing you want to do is spend time in your attorney’s office, but it’s 20 minutes well spent. And hey, your school may have an on campus attorney to do this for you at no charge (mine did!). These pieces of paper essentially allow you to allow another individual (usually your parent or spouse) to make decisions on your behalf. The things that they are allowed to do are often present in a list, so that it is clear what their rights are. Otherwise, nobody has the right to act on your behalf in a legal manner (unless you have extraneous special circumstances, of course). This can be important for things such as medical decisions, and allows people to make personal welfare decisions on your behalf. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that you only appoint someone who you believe will make the decisions as you would like them to be made, and someone who will not abuse the right. That is why people usually appoint their parent(s), as you know that they 100% have your back.

Contact Information

This is so simple, yet something so many people forget. Usually, you will be in contact with the people back home on a semi-regular basis; telling them about your adventures, asking for more money…such things. However, some people are better at staying organized than others…meaning that I am willing to bet that some people will in fact lose your new address, your new phone number, your postal code, etc. It’s just nice to write it down for them in a safe place.

In Case of Emergency Information

Most people would like to know who to contact should you be in a bad situation (duh). Having an emergency contact at your destination (for me, it’s my aunt) who your friends and family at home can contact should they feel that you have come into dire harm and are not responding to their messages. This can be difficult if you are travelling around, but try your best. You can include the contact information for the places that you will be staying, and/or people you will be travelling/staying with. You should also include your health/travel insurance information.

Email Information

I do this, simply out of my own paranoia. I left my mum with my email information (username and password), simply as a means of covering all my bases. Should I fall off the grid, she can check to see if I’m still alive.

Pet Care Details

Luke and I have a lovely little hedgehog, Charlie. We opted to leave him with Luke’s good friend Noel and his family. This was an awesome decision, as they love having him, and he is having a ball (pun intended…get it? Cause he balls up?). Anywho, we left Noel’s contact information with my mum (and vice versa) so that my mum can check up on him, and should anything bad happen (please God, no) then Noel can contact my mum to seek immediate help.

I’m sure that I’ve left things out of this list, but if I think of anything more, I will return!

Things to Bring

You should essentially bring many of the important things that you are leaving copies of behind. It is, however, not advisable to bring all your banking information (just in case you lose it).

Visa/Passport

As Luke and I are UK citizens, we didn’t need a visa to go to school here. That being said, I know that most students are not so lucky, and therefore require a visa. Not only do you need to bring a visa to the airport, you will probably also need to bring:

  • Proof that you are going where you are going, for the reason you are going (confirmation letters from your home and host universities are essential)
  • Proof that you have enough money to support yourself for your designated trip (bank statements, etc.) as you probably won’t be eligible to work
  • Any specialized information that is pertinent to your specific circumstances

You should also bring notarized copies of your passport(s), just in case you lose your passport. This is really the only way to prove that you are who you say you are, and to get where you need to be.

Copies of Your Prescriptions

Most people have prescriptions that they need to take. If you are bringing a large quantity of prescription drugs abroad, you really should bring copies of the prescriptions with you, in order to prove that they are for you and are not for illegal uses. Also, you should always carry your prescriptions in their original packaging with your name clearly labelled.

Your Actual Prescriptions

Don’t forget them! It’s really hard to get them abroad.

Your Insurance Information

My insurance company gives me a handy dandy little card for my health and travel insurance. On the back of my card is all the information I need should I need to file a claim: the account number, the contact number (for home and abroad), and a brief description of the process of calling. Usually they require you to call before you seek medical attention, unless, of course, it is an emergency situation.

I must stress that you should only leave this information with someone you trust completely. You do not want to leave any sensitive information in the wrong hands. Also, I posted this merely as a guideline, and your circumstances may warrant additions or exclusions from this list. This is merely what chose to leave behind with my mum, as per the recommendation of my attorney. ALSO: It is hugely important that this information be kept in a very safe place.

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