Do You Really Need To Print Your Travel Documents?

Let’s face it, the world is becoming a lot more digitised, moving away from the need for paper copies. Personally, I encourage this move, it’s better for the environment and less to carry. However, whether you need to print your travel documents is another matter. It is dependent on the document itself, the company you are with and where you are travelling to and from. It can be a nightmare trying to figure this out! Especially if you have a few things booked! Sometimes it is better to be safe rather than sorry, but it means carrying extra paper around! So what do you need to print?

Boarding Pass/Tickets

If you want to book into a flight using your mobile phone, you sometimes can. However, both the airports and the airline company have to be able to support electronic boarding passes. Electronic boarding passes are becoming more popular with many airlines providing free Apps that you must use their boarding pass on. Easyjet have an App that allows you to scan your boarding pass from your phone at the bag drop, security and gate, easy! Ryanair also has this feature, but excludes some airports.

Other travel tickets are generally needed. For buses and trains they often collect the tickets. National Express requires you to have the ticket printed, whereas Megabus just want the confirmation number, so as long as you have a note of the number this is ok. Trains in the UK require a printed ticket, however you can print these at certain stations free of charge even when booked in advance. You just need your reference number and the card you booked with.


Most visas are moving to an electronic version linked with your passport, however some countries still issue paper copies. This is also very dependent on your nationality and where you are travelling too.

Insurance Documents

Most insurers recommend keeping copies of your documents, but don’t necessarily advise paper copies. Digital copies seem to be fine, although they normally state that you risk losing your insurance details if your gadgets are stolen, so a digital and paper copy may be a good idea.

Passport and Other ID

I’ve often seen it recommended to print a copy of your passport, but never understood why. I mean, no one is going to accept a paper copy of your ID as proof of identity. After a little research I have come to conclusion that it is actually a good idea. If your passport is lost or stolen it can be quicker to get a replacement if you have a copy, as you have all your passport details. Also, not meaning to be morbid, but it is a good idea to leave a copy of your passport with your next of kin. That way if the worst should happen, and you die on your travels, they will find it easier to claim on your insurance, having all your passport details to hand.


Copies are important, whether it be digital or paper it is important to have more than one in different locations. For digital copies store them on:

  • Emails;
  • Pendrive/Harddrive;
  • Laptop/Tablet.

Paper copies should be:

  • On your person;
  • At home.

To Print Or Not To Print Your Travel Documents?

Overall, the main thing to do is to check with the company. Some airlines and airports are making it so you do not need a boarding pass printed, but buses and trains tend to still require them. Visas, I would err on the side of caution and have a copy any way.

For all documents and ID (other than boarding pass if you are 100% you do not need it printed) I would leave a printed copy at home. That way if you lose anything you have a way of getting it. Whether that be via post or email.

Make sure you always check with the company and their recommendations before you decide whether or not to print your travel documents. Personally, I think that all these documents will eventually become fully electronic, but it will take time. Until then I will be cautious and print out visas and ID to at least leave one at home.

Categories: Backpacking | Comments

Author Bio: Nat

I’m Nat, the backpacker behind natpacker. From the UK, I was bitten by the travel bug during a round the world trip in my early twenties. Since then I have been determined to see as much of this world as possible. My passion for travel led me to start up this blog, partly to record my adventures and partly to inspire others to travel.

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