5 Things Every Traveler Should Carry In Their Wallet

Because what you store inside can often make or break your trip.

With so many things to pack and plan for on a trip, it can be easy to overlook some key things during the pre-trip preparation process. If there’s one item you’ll almost certainly bring with you on your travels it’s your wallet, and what you store inside can often make or break your trip. Here are five things every traveler should carry in their wallet.

1. Debit Card/Credit Cards With Chip Security

Despite the rise of digital currencies and increasing popularity of online payments like PayPal, credit cards are still the preferred choice of payment for hotels, restaurants and shops around the world. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are the most widely accepted credit cards by merchants (tip: in case one type of card isn’t accepted on your travels, always carry at least one other card option as a backup).

Most importantly, make sure your debit card or credit card is equipped with chip security. Due to the apparent rise of identity theft with card swiping machines, merchants now opt for the PIN and chip method of payment, which means you insert your card into a card machine and verify your purchase by entering a pin code. All major credit card companies have updated their cards to include a chip, so if you don’t have one already you can request a new card with chip from your bank. Don’t forget to request the pin code for your credit card, too!

2. Always Have Cash On Hand 

Cash will always be the best way to pay your way forward on your trip. From tours and tips, to restaurants and taxis, most of your trip will be paid in the form of cash, so it’s a good practice to always carry what you need for the day. I like to keep my cash in small denominations when I’m traveling, which makes it easier to receive change and lessen the risk of being ripped off with counterfeit change if I use a large money note instead (it happened to me in Buenos Aires).

From my experience, I’d rather carry too much cash from home than not enough, but never too much on my person at any one time. Any extra cash I have I always keep locked up in my bag back at my hotel or hostel. And the less I have to withdraw money from ATMs on my trip the less fess I’ll have to pay.

3. Bring Your Driver’s License

Other than your passport, it’s always a good idea to bring an additional form of ID with you. Many travelers will carry a photocopy of their passport, along with their physical national driver’s license in their wallet, in case they’re stopped by police in another country or need to prove your identity. And if you plan on renting a car or vehicle while on vacation, fill out an application for international driver’s license. When I was at Easter Island, for example, most ATV rental companies required my national driver’s license in order to rent a vehicle from them.

4. Family Photos Are Great Ice Breakers

No matter where you go in the world, people just love looking at family photos! From train hopping in Europe to long bus rides in South America, some of my favorite traveling memories revolved around meeting locals and at some time during our conversation sharing photos of our families. There’s an amazing connection you make with people when you open your wallet and pull out a short stack of cropped and slightly bent photos of your family and loved ones. Not to mention, wherever you go the photos are always with you, which in itself tells a pretty cool story about your own traveling history and places you’ve visited, along with the stories attached to the people in the photos as well.

At a time when everyone stores photos on the cloud or on their phone, it’s a really nice touch to carry physical photos with you, which always leaves a great impression on the people you meet. It may not be the first thing you think about packing in your wallet, but it’s a great way to introduce yourself to others on the road, while creating meaningful bonds at the same time.

5. List Of Emergency Contact Phone Numbers

There are times when things will go wrong on your trip. It’s inevitable and bound to happen eventually, but it’s important not to panic and stay focused. For me it happened the first time I ever traveled in 2012, and I arrived at Barcelona with my phone on dead battery and no data plan, plus I completely forgot to write down the name of my hostel or contact number. Not to mention, I conveniently forgot to write down phone numbers of emergency contacts back home. Let’s face it, how many people actually remember the phone numbers of others in their phone?

Eventually, after several hours, I figured out my way to the hostel, but all of that hassle could have been avoided if I simply kept a small list of contact numbers in my wallet to call from a nearby phone. I would recommend writing down a short list of contact numbers of some friends and family members back home (complete with country area code), your health insurance contact number, plus the address and phone number of your first hotel stay at your destination.

Jerry Alonzo Leon


Jerry's favorite country to travel to is Spain. When he's on the road, he keeps it real simple with a pen and a pad. His travel style is spontaneous, easygoing, and always in search of a great adventure.

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