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The ABCs of Carrying ICE Information on a USB

by Irvina Lew

Jul 20, 2020

Photo: Владимир Сухачёв | Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

Alphabet and acronyms aside, it’s important to carry relevant “In Case of Emergency” information with you when you travel. The ABCs refer to some of the data which should be available: A: address; B: back-up documents; C: contacts.


Usually when we travel, we enjoy the trip and happily return home with fond memories and non-eventful — or should I say detrimental — experiences. Yet, we’re well counseled to be concerned about the “what ifs” and pitfalls of travel. We’ve all heard enough startling stories to realize it pays to be diligent. People, papers and things do get lost; accidents happen. Some folks get sick and need a doctor, a hospital. It’s happened to me, my family and friends. I recall when my friend’s purse — with her money, Green Card and credit cards — was stolen by a pair of thieves (a driver and a snatcher) on a motorbike; an all-night search for my passport, which I had left in the previous hotel needed for that day’s flight home — instances that occurred before I started carrying photocopies of documents.


Once, traveling alone, I fell and it required a hospital stay. I didn’t have to depart from a cruise or a tour group, as some of my friends have had to do, but it was complicated. Then, there was the episode when my late husband had to be hospitalized; we were lucky the hotel had a concierge who called an English-speaking doctor and that I had insurance cards and a credit line to cover a multi-thousand-dollar deposit — what I did not have, way back then, and which I have always carried since, was all the pertinent medical information.


Most of us have heard such situational stories, so it pays to consider this tip, especially when traveling en famille.


According to my colleague and pal, Peter Greenberg, the Travel Detective, the way to best carry vital information is on a USB flash drive, preferably hanging around your — and your child’s — neck, or attached on a chain or belt. He advises that even if you copied, scanned and printed the information, or keep it on your phone, in a pocket, purse or the hotel safe, it might not help in multiple situations. It won’t be available if you are out and about, without a pocket or purse, or if you get hurt or mugged or misplace your phone.


Here are some lists of vital information to carry on the USB, even if you already have photocopies with you.


  1. A VIP File

The VIP file should include copies of (for each traveler, where applicable):

  • Passport
  • Driver’s license
  • Proof of insurance
  • Global Entry, TSA or CLEAR information


  1. An ICE File

The In Case of Emergency, or ICE file, should be unique to each member of the family according to their medical situation and should include:

  • Contact information: name, address, phone
  • Medical insurance: copy the insurance cards
  • Medical conditions and known allergies, if any
  • Prescriptions
  • Doctor contacts
  • Pharmacy contact
  • VIP person as an ICE family contact


  1. Itinerary File

I also recommend carrying an Itinerary file for each trip, which might include:

  • A daily itinerary
  • Hotel confirmations
  • Transportation confirmations and codes
  • Travel company or host contact info, if relevant


In addition to all the records listed, a USB port is a wonderfully efficient way to upload and share specific photos from a trip.


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