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Tips for saving time and money as a travel writerNot every photo you snap has to be a winner. Some images aren’t meant to be sold at all. Instead, their job is saving time and money.

Travel writers are information collectors. We illuminate our stories with photos we take of attractions, accommodations, food, and drink. But we also need to collect brochures, guides, maps, books, and business cards.

Plus, reservations, confirmations, boarding passes, addresses, phone numbers, departure gates, and so much more.

For these things, I use my smart phone or camera to reduce paper while still keeping essential information at my fingertips.

The following are 15 kinds of photos I snap to save time and money as a travel writer…

1. ID and documents

You know this one. Photograph the front and back of your passport, driver’s license, journalist ID, credit cards, tickets, itineraries, and vouchers before leaving home.

Leave a copy at home with your itinerary, place one in your suitcase (I put mine under the lining), and some folks suggest putting the third copy in a secure location as you travel—money belt, safe, etc.

2. Luggage and its contents

Photograph the contents of your bags as you are packing. Pack everything and photograph all your bags—suitcases, totes, handbags, and wallets.

Leave a digital copy at home and place one on your phone and/or laptop. If your luggage is lost or stolen, you’ll have an easier time with insurance claims by including photos.

3. Departure board that shows your gate

Keep it handy for reference when finding your gate.

4. Rental car condition at pickup and return

Photograph all sides clearly. Get the rental car agent in the picture if possible. This can be your savior if damage claims are made for pre-existing flaws.

5. Hotel from the street

This shot can be handy if you don’t speak the same language as your cab driver, or in case you forget the name or location.

6. Hotel room number

In case you don’t want to say it out loud or forget the number.

7. Your car parked in the parking lot

Be sure the specific row or level shows in the photo. If that’s not possible, photograph the location sign separately. Nothing worse than roaming up and down row after row of cars looking for yours.

8. Parking lot name/address sign

In case you forget, this is a life saver. I’ve used the Google feature, “Place on Map” with parking lot photos when I was lost to get step-by-step walking or driving directions.

9. Taxi driver ID

Most likely you won’t need this one, but I do wish I had done it for the taxi where I left my London Fog raincoat.

10. All Receipts

11. Brochures

It’s easier to carry a digital image than all the paper that accumulates while traveling.

12. Business cards

13. Menus

So you can refer back to the names of dishes and their prices in your articles. It’s lighter to carry a digital image than carry a menu from eateries, not to mention they might not give you one. Be discreet. I ask first and like to do it outside the dining area.

14. Signs

Business names and addresses, informational, directional, etc.

15. Museum information panels

Most of these photos can be deleted after your trip is complete or you’ve finished your story. But in the interim, they’re priceless.

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