Have you wanted to go paperless, but were unsure where to begin? If you have been hesitant to start your eco-hero journey into the world of digital documents, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
In fact, there’s often a strange sense of comfort that comes from having information printed on a piece of pristine paper. How many times have you sent your travel itinerary to your phone but also printed it on paper for a backup?
When preparing to fly across the planet to submerge yourself in saltwater bliss, the advantages of having everything stored in a digital format are hard to ignore:
-Save effort with less paper to store and carry around (more room for surfboards and beer)
-Save stress by avoiding losing important documents (always available online)
-Save paper and carbon emissions associated with mailing paper documents
-Save time by having access to your documents anywhere (except that boat in the Mentawais)
-Digitizing your paper system is especially useful for traveling surfers.
Getting your documents in order may be the underlying resistance to leaving the country for that epic surf vacation you have been dreaming about, but substituting your messy paper system for an eco-friendly, sharable, portable, organized system is as easy as paddling out at Mondos in Ventura, California. So to jump-start your soon-to-be paperless path to increased efficiency, I’d like to share a simple, three step guide to going paperless.
1. Reduce Your Paper Input For Easy Travel Organization
You may be ready to start scanning up a storm, but before you do that, what if you could drastically reduce the amount of paper you receive in the first place? While you are basking on the beaches of Bali you’ll want to be able to manage and pay your bills online.
There are a few top paper kooks that can easily be switched to electronic documents, like credit cards, monthly bills (cell phone, utilities, rent/mortgage), bank statements, and tax documents. Sometimes, you can even get discounts or rewards for switching to the paperless option. Take an hour to automate as many bills as possible, receive digital bank and tax statements and stop unsolicited mail form cramming your mailbox.
2. Choose Your Document Management System.
You’ll want something that uses cloud storage to store your important documents. That way, if something should happen to your computer or hard drive, you still have all of your documents safely backed up.
Opting for cloud based storage also makes the information accessible from virtually anywhere in the world via wireless internet connection. The two best cloud storage options are Google Drive and Dropbox. Take a few minutes after you’re done reading this to open a Google Drive account and learn the basics of using this free cloud resource.
3. Scan Your Most Important Documents Pre-Trip
Our list of most important documents includes:
Health records (including pre-trip shots)
Malaria medication instructions
Social security card (or ID)
Travel insurance policies
Credit card replacement numbers
Marriage license (in case you decide to marry that girl you met in the water at Ulu)
Military service records
Investment records (need to make a trade to extend your trip)
Will (hopefully you won’t need this one)
There are a number of document scanning applications that will turn your smartphone into a high quality scanning machine. I like TinyScan and recommend downloading it from the app store. Before you take off, scan all your important documents.
Have more paperless tips? Got any more tips going paperless before your next surf adventure? Please add them to the comments below or shot me an email at email@example.com.