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14 Photos You Should Carry with You at All Times—But Don’t

It's a little-used lifehack, but your photo library can save you time and frustration by putting important information a quick finger scroll away.

Girl takes pictures on the phone from the car windowMax4e Photo/Shutterstock

How photos on your phone can be a lifesaver

Travel and tech expert Maurice Freedman explains how your photo library can serve as your file cabinet, GPS, legal backup, and more, but does offer this word of caution: "Remember that anything you photograph doesn't just live on your phone—in many cases, those photos are simultaneously shared with all of your devices and the cloud, so strong passwords are key to privacy and security."

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Rental car

"I take photos of rental cars—before and after I rent them—so that if I'm ever charged with damages, I have images that are time/location stamped," says Freedman. "Bumpers— especially the corners—are very commonly scratched or damaged, and cost a ton to repair."

Cars in the parking lot in rowalika/Shutterstock

Finding your car

Freedman calls this his "old man trick." He takes a picture of where he parked his car—especially rentals—and preferably, with the car in the photo. "There's nothing like aimlessly walking around a massive parking lot, especially when I have no idea what kind of car I was even driving."

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License plate and VIN number

Can you recite your license plate number by heart? Many people can't, so having a photo avoids having to run back and check when you're paying to park at a pay station. In the not-so-fun scenario that your car goes missing, having the plate number and VIN number on hand will allow you to inform the police as quickly as possible. Here is a list of cities your car is most likely to get stolen in.


Driver's license

If you lose your wallet, you've also lost your valid photo ID. Having this as a backup while you wait for a replacement will solve some headaches. Please note that a photo of your driver's license will not be accepted by a police officer during a traffic stop. Here are 45 other things that police want the public to know—they could even get you out of a ticket!

Man holding passportKieferPix/Shutterstock


When heading to destinations outside the United States, former Green Beret, Sergeant Major (retired) Karl Erickson has many words of advice for travelers, including photocopying and photographing your passport. "This makes it a lot easier for you to go to the embassy and prove you are a U.S. citizen."

Interior view of car with black salonSergey Nivens/Shutterstock

Auto insurance card

These days, most of us never leave home without our phone, but more and more we forget our wallet. You don't want to be in a car without an insurance card in case of an accident. Even if you keep the proof in your car, is it the latest, up-to-date version? Plus: Having to dig through your glove compartment while dealing with physical injuries or emotional shakeups is no fun. Allstate list the states that digital copies of insurance are valid here.


Medical and dental insurance cards

If you've ever accidentally given an expired insurance card or didn't have your card on hand for an emergency room visit, you know the unpleasant process of figuring out what the mix-up is, or worse: Having to explain the issue to billing agents trying to collect money you don't owe. If you just got hit with a massive bill you didn't expect, here are some secrets to lowering your medical bills.

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Printer model number

Do you know what is more annoying than running out of ink when you really need to print something out? Going to Staples and realizing that there are about 15 printers that look exactly like yours. Do yourself a favor and snap a pic of your model and serial number.

macro photo photography of laptop keyboard in detail with bokeh effectgut2000/Shutterstock

Computer serial number

"A serial number is a unique, identifying number or group of numbers and letters assigned to an individual piece of hardware or software," reports Tim Fisher for Lifewire. "The idea behind serial numbers is to identify a specific item, much like how a fingerprint identifies a specific person. Instead of some names or numbers that specify a whole range of products, a serial number is intended to provide a unique number to one device at a time."

Having a photo of yours will make it easier to report if your device gets stolen. Also, if you're making a call to technical support, you will likely need this info, which is typically printed microscopic type. Take a picture and zoom in, rather than trying to find a magnifying glass or a pair of young eyes. This goes for any major appliance. (After it caught fire is not when you want to look for the serial number.)

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