Travel Emergency Flash Drive




This is how I set up a thumb drive to wear when travelling. It contains your medical and emergency contact information in case some sort of accident happens to you and everything you need to get home and prevent someone from using your bank and credit cards if you have your wallet or bag stolen. This project was heavily inspired by Andrew Tarantola's emergency flash drive .

Materials and Equipment

-A thumb drive:

Choose one that is waterproof and relatively small physically, but not so small that you won’t have enough space to paint. The capacity and speed isn’t that important since I wouldn’t recommend using it for anything else. Silicon power has a decent one for under $10.

-Necklace/lanyard/dog tag chain

-Red nail polish



-Encryption software:

I would recommend Veracrypt. Although it is not exactly user-friendly, it is incredibly secure, has the ability to encrypt an entire partition, can be used with Windows, OSX, and Linux, and, my favourite part, is free. There is also a portable version that does not require installation for Windows computers (but still needs admin privileges).

-Photoshop, Gimp, or other photo editing software

-Utility knife



-Windows computer if creating a Veracrypt Portable drive


Step 1: Drive Painting

Mask off the portion of the drive that is inserted into a computer with tape. Create a cross of life stencil out of a sticker and paint the flash drive with red nail polish. You can buy flash drives with a cross of life icon however they’re normally of questionable quality and abuse resistance.

Step 2: Partition and Encrypt

Reformat the thumb drive with two FAT partitions.

Using VeraCrypt reformat one of these as an encrypted partition. You will need Creating a separate encrypted partition instead of using an encrypted keeps the main partition tidy as possible and slightly reduces the chance of the someone noticing that the drive contains encrypted data.

Note to El Capitan users: The new version of Disk Utility has been dumbed down quite a bit and you will have to create a single partition with Master Boot Record as the Scheme and then use Terminal to split the partition. The Terminal command is:

diskutil splitPartition /dev/disk2s1 2 fat32 UNENCRYPTED 14G fat32 ENCRYPTED 14G

Note that you may want/need to change the partition names, mount point, and the partition sizes.

This is the breakdown of the command:

diskutil splitPartition [MountPoint|DiskIdentifier|DeviceNode] [numberOfPartitions] [part1Format part1Name part1Size part2Format part2Name part2Size]

For more detail paste ""diskutil splitPartition" into Terminal and hit enter.

Step 3: Text Files

I would recommend using plain text (.txt) files since they seem to be the file type that almost any computer can understand. Using a UNICODE encoding will preserve characters that are not found in the English alphabet.

Since typing out the full text would make this Ible a little too dense, I've attached a sample file structure with template files.


This document contains your basic information and the contact information of your emergency contacts. “Emergency Contacts” should be translated into English and the most common local languages (preferably by someone who speaks the language). It also wouldn't hurt to translate it into Spanish, Chinese, and French since these languages show up in quite a few different countries.

The translations I have so far are:

Simplified Chinese: 紧急联系人

Traditional Chinese: 緊急聯繫人:

German: Im Notfall, kontaktieren Sie bitte:

French: En cas d'urgence:

If you speak a language that isn’t on this list let me know and I'll updte the list.

“Payment Cards.txt”

This document contains information to cancel each of your cards if they are lost or stolen. Do not put the card number CVV, or expiration date of the card in this document. That information will be encrypted.


This document lists your medications, blood type, and allergies and has information about your travel insurance and your primary care physician's contact information.

The exact formatting will vary depending on which of these apply to you, but should be put in the order listed with insurance information and your physician's contact information each separated with a double line.

“Accounts and Cards.txt”

This document has two sections: One with more detailed information for cancelling your credit cards and one for transferring money from or freezing your bank account

Step 4: Scan Documents

Scan front and back of each ID, Payment Card, insurance card, and any other similar card or document that you are bringing with you.

Combine the scanned front and back of each card into a single image for each card

Step 5: Setup File Structure and Populate

The FAT volume contains text documents with non sensitive information, medical information, and copies of VeraCrypt for Mac and PC. The file structure can be seen in the screenshots or downloaded from the .zip file in step 3.


“Payment Cards.txt”


Scanned Insurance Documents

A folder titled “Software” that contains copies of VeraCrypt for OSX and Windows (or VeraCrypt Portable for Windows if you have access to a windows machine when you are creating the drive) and OSXFuse.

The Encrypted contains documents and files containing information that could be used for identity theft or to make purchases if someone else accessed them.

“Accounts and Cards.txt”

A folder titled “Payment Cards” that contains scanned copies of your cards

A folder titled “IDs” that contains scanned copies of all your IDs.

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    9 Discussions


    2 years ago

    I use these 2 free program "Key pass portable" and OMZIF" both can work on a USB key. (Free portable for USB key or direct on PC. They both run run on different version of windows.)

    In "Key pass portable" and you can store Numbers/Pictures/passwords ...

    KeePass supports the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES, Rijndael) and the
    Twofish algorithms to encrypt its password databases.

    Both of these ciphers are regarded as very secure by the cryptography
    community. Banks are using these algorithms for example, too.

    I use "OMZIF" too to encrypt single file. Choose the standard from civilian to military grade, you can re-encript the same file multiple time if you want too and more.

    Omziff is a straightforward encryption utility that uses various cryptographic algorithms to encrypt and decrypt textual files. These algorithms include: Blowfish, Cast128, Gost, IDEA, Misty1, AES/Rijndael, and Twofish.

    I think AES/Rijndael is banks/military encryption grade.


    2 years ago

    SD card goes when your money goes with the thief.

    Note: do not put your USB key on your bag with that kind of lanyard.

    If you can cut it with with a knife then a thief will do better with a razor blade.

    Keep it on your key chain in a pocket with a double of some of your house keys. Don't keep the car keys on the same set. Steal the car with the car keys and they get away with your USB key at the same time.


    3 years ago

    Really awesome, what about putting it on an SD card so it'll fit in a wallet (too much abuse in there maybe?).

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    That could work. My only concern would be that SD card slots aren't as easy to find as USB ports, but you could solve that with a hybrid card like one of these guys:


    Reply 2 years ago

    that is a good idea. or you can buy a small flat USB thumb drive and make a necklace or bracelet from it.


    3 years ago

    You can attach a female usb to male micro usb to the flash drive. This will allow anyone with a smart phone that supports micro usb to access your emergency travel flash drive. You could even spray paint a small phone graphic onto the adapter to get the point across.

    1 reply

    3 years ago on Introduction

    It just occurred to me that you should probably have your embassy's location in the non-encrypted folder as well. I'll update the 'ible in a day or two, but I thought I'd mention the idea in the comments in the mean time.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Good Idea, I love this project and the concept behind it. Going on holiday later this week so wouldn't be able to make one for this year but maybe next year. This could also function for use with children, for example children who fly between divorced parents alone. Anyway you have yourself a vote.