How my travel wallet reduces travel stress


If you’re like me, you have lots of stuff that ought to be with you when you travel.  When preparing for a trip, it used to be a bit stressful trying to ensure that I had packed the right ID cards, credit cards, lounge passes, etc.  And, invariably I’d realize later that I got it wrong.  For example, I’ve previously forgotten to bring a hotel gift card that I had planned to use when checking out.  Similarly, I once forgot my Amex Platinum card for accessing an airport lounge (but that particular lounge let me in after giving them my Amex Platinum credit card number which I keep electronically for such purposes).

I completely eliminated this particular stress of travel a few years ago when I bought a simple travel wallet.  My travel wallet contains all of those fit-in-a-wallet things that I might need when traveling.  The only exceptions are the cards that I keep in my everyday wallet (which also travels with me), and travel things that don’t fit in a wallet such as a spare phone charger, ginger pills for motion sickness, etc. (these stay in my travel backpack).

I keep my travel wallet at all times in my travel backpack.  That way, my travel wallet is always with me when I travel.  I never travel without my travel backpack!

What to put into your travel wallet

  • ID cards that you don’t keep in your everyday wallet.  Your passport, for example.
  • Foreign currency for those countries that you visit often.
  • Credit cards that are useful when traveling, but not for everyday spend (hotel cards, Amex Platinum cards, cards that refund incidental airline fees, etc.)
  • A debit card with no foreign exchange fees and which refunds ATM charges (but only if you don’t keep it in your everyday wallet)
  • Airport lounge access cards, such as Priority Pass
  • Public transportation cards (e.g. metro card)
  • Travel related gift cards
  • Discount cards
  • Membership cards

Here are specific examples found in my travel wallet:

ID Cards

From left to right: PADI Dive Certification, Global Entry ID, and Passport

Credit Cards I use for travel, but not at home

The Amex Platinum card is great for access to certain airport lounges. It is also useful to have on hand for emergencies (it offers Emergency Medical Evacuation, for example). The Citi Prestige card has a great perk: 4th Night Free on hotel stays, but you must check-out with this card. By keeping it in my travel wallet, I’ll never forget to have it on-hand during a 4th Night Free stay.  If I had the Hilton Aspire card it would belong in this wallet too since it offers 14 points per dollar at Hilton properties and $250 in annual credits for spend at Hilton resorts.

Lounge Access Cards

My Amex Platinum and Priority Pass cards offer access to many airport lounges around the world. The latter now includes free meals at many restaurants. Also shown is an expired United Club one-time pass. United now issues these electronically, but I kept it in the photo to show the type of lounge access cards I keep in my travel wallet.

Public Transportation Cards

Public transportation cards for DC, NYC, and London

Gift Cards, Discount Cards, and Miscellaneous Other Stuff

From left to right: Delta employee recognition voucher, Gogo free in-flight internet pass, Heathrow Rewards membership card (not sure why I keep this), and a Fairmont gift card

Wallet recommendations?

At the time of this writing, I don’t have a specific recommendation for a travel wallet that you can buy.  The one I have is good enough, but doesn’t have a change purse which would be very helpful with foreign currency.  I’d also like one with more card slots.

What about you?  Are you happy with a particular wallet that we can recommend?  Please comment below.

Update: Our own Stephen Pepper highly recommends a brand called “Big Skinny”.  Here’s our Amazon affiliate link to the Big Skinny passport wallet selection.  Also check out his post about his wallet on his No Home Just Roam blog: Review: Big Skinny Wallet With Zippered Pocket

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