My Deck of Travel Cards

Part of being a successful traveler is staying organized. That includes all of the cards I use with hotels, airlines and assorted government entities.

Yes, I travel with an assortment of colored plastic rectangles. Some are tied to frequent flyer programs, some are tied to hotel rewards programs and others have useful personal information like insurance policy numbers. These cards can easily get lost in the bottom of the bag, buried under your complementary copy of USA Today and several packets of airline peanuts.

Sure, I could shove these cards into a pocket of my carry-on bag … as long as I don’t forget to fetch them if I change bags. These things come in handy on the road, so make sure your cards are within easy reach.

Text Printed on Plastic … How Quaint

Yes, I do keep a digital copy of my essential frequent traveler data in “the cloud” … which does me no good when I am disconnected from the Internet. I also have my Delta SkyMiles number committed to memory … which doesn’t help when I need the toll free number on the back of the card to call and reschedule a flight, or I get bumped to an airline whose digits I haven’t committed to memory.

A few of these cards are only good when they are in my pretzel-crumb-covered hands. I do keep a backup credit card and alternate forms of ID in the travel wallet. A picture of these cards from DropBox isn’t as useful as the real thing when confronted with a travel emergency.

Classic Style: The Leather Wallet

Yes, organization of cards means buying a container made for cards. For you Mad Men fans, I highly recommend the classic leather wallet. Nothing says “bellhop, away with my bags whilst I present my Diners Club card to the desk clerk” like a long wallet produced from the left breast pocket of a herringbone sport coat.

There’s plenty of room here for travel cards, along with some cash and the free drink/snack coupons that airlines occasionally throw at loyal customers. It’s a classy look and easy to organize. However, it’s a bit bulky compared to other solutions.

As Seen on TV

Oh yes late-night TV fans, it’s one of those “indestructible” aluminum wallets. By the way, be careful using the term “indestructible” around an engineer. We tend to find ways to prove you are using a word which does not mean what you think it means.

This is cheap ($3-20 depending on the brand), durable (it can be “destructed” but it takes some effort) and holds over a dozen credit-card shaped objects. Since it’s made as a “wallet” it will fit comfortably in a pants pocket or the side pocket of your reasonably sized carry-on luggage. These gizmos also come in a variety of colors, in case standard colors like ‘black’ and ‘brown’ don’t do it for you anymore.

Of course, the economy is in pretty sad shape these days … so a cheap blob of recycled aluminum and plastic may break your budget. No problem, I have you covered.

Mom Packed Your Lunch?

Yep, it’s a Ziploc bag. I know, the alternative is so cheap that your Diners Club card may reject the new enclosure much like a healthy donor would reject  Ted Kennedy’s kidney. I use these disposable containers all the time, so they are an acceptable substitute when the aluminum wallet is on backorder from the Slap Chop factory.


Get Your Kit Together

Frequent flyer cards aren’t the only things I keep contained in the bowels of my carry-on bag. In my next travel update, we’ll look at the pile of adapters and cables next to my nerd card.

2 Replies to “My Deck of Travel Cards”

  1. Any advice for women travelers who have no/ridiculously small pockets? Purses get snatched or lost too easily, and may also need to be swapped.

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