Planning big trips can be really involved and paper intensive. From tickets, reservations, maps, paper money, journals, and more, there can be a lot of paper to keep track of. I really don’t like carting around excessive amounts of paper with our personal information on them, nor do I like having to keep various papers organized and in good form. And let’s face it, we are becoming more and more of a paperless society too. Regardless of how you feel about paper, traveling with less of it is always a good idea.
Upon planning a very detailed trip throughout Europe, it seemed like this trip had the potential to generate a lot of paper to haul around with us. I just really didn’t want to do that, so it became a mission to take as little paper as possible. As a result of our planning, we were able to travel nearly paper free in Europe. Here are the things we did, all of which turned out to be great ideas!
Download Boarding Passes
For iPhone users, Apple Wallet is great for downloading as much in advance as possible. We did this for our boarding passes on United Airlines, EasyJet, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, and Eurostar. We also added our Stonehenge Tour tickets and hotel reservations. It really didn’t take much – just spend a few minutes prior to departing downloading the various apps and adding the passes to Apple Wallet. This made for super easy access and helped with organization.
Speaking of apps, there are several apps that we used on our trip (and all of our travels) that aid in the travel experience. In addition to the apps for various airlines and other service providers, there are several that are helpful to have. We like to use Uber, various airport parking apps, Rome2Rio, and Global Connect to name a few.
In addition to the apps mentioned above, there are plenty of other e-resources that will help make it easier to travel with less paper. I’ve had a life-long obsession with travel guidebooks, phrase books, and maps. However, these types of things take up a lot of space and weigh you down. Instead, learn a few phrases in advance through DuoLingo, or even download Google Translate as an alternative. In addition, there are a ton of guidebooks and maps available electronically, especially for Amazon Prime members. Download these (as well as other books and magazines) to read on the flight and refer to during your trip.
Confirm In Advance
Have you ever arrived at a hotel late at night to find they don’t have your reservation on file? It is a horrible feeling. To avoid this, I emailed our hotels in advance confirming our reservation was received. Every hotel responded back confirming our stay and providing the confirmation number. This allowed us to avoid bringing print outs of our reservations along or from having to worry that the reservation would be lost. And, by saving these emails in a folder they were on hand just in case we needed it.
Google Is Your Friend
We planned and tracked everything in a Google Doc which was then made available offline. To be thorough, we included things like flight times and reservation numbers, hotel names and confirmations, train information, restaurants to visit, sightseeing plans, estimated costs and more. Whenever we needed to referenced anything about our trip, this was our go-to document! Seriously was a lifesaver!
Find A Good Travel Credit Card
There are many travel credit cards out there that offer a ton of perks. However, make sure to find one that offers zero foreign transaction fees. This reduces the need to rely on carrying tons of cash (you’ll still need some though) and helps to save some money along the way.
We are huge fans of Amazon for many, many reasons. However, one of our favorite features is the photos option. While this is a great way to quickly backup and store travel pictures, it serves other purposes too. Upload copies of your important travel documents and store them here. Think passports, cards in your wallet as well as the customer service phone numbers, insurance, etc. It’s great to have information available without having to carry actual copies with you.
Its funny how much weight paper can add to a backpack or how much space it can take up. By focusing our efforts on using as many electronic options as possible, we were able to travel through Europe carrying minimal paper. It was nice to have less to track, less risk of losing important documents/cash, having personal information end up in the wrong hands, and a little less to carry. Personally, it’s always bother me that more hotels, airports, and other travel hot spots don’t have shredders. And, of course, there’s always the environmental benefits to using less paper too! While recycling is becoming more prominent, there still is a lot of work to be done by hotels, airports, and other travel hot spots. Why not just cut the paper out of your travels before you have to worry about it?
Do you try reduce the amount of paper you use when traveling abroad?