Make Your Own Digital Dog Tag [Travel Hack]

Written by Joey Daoud

On March 6, 2009

Photo by bruckerrib

I have Crohn’s Disease. I’ve been hospitalized twice in two different cities that are not where I’m living, so tracking down my medical records has always been an issue.

I’m on the right medication now, and I haven’t had any issues for over a year, but the lack of warning symptoms always worries me that I could have a flare up any time, any place.

So far Haiti I made a digital dog tag. Basically it’s a USB drive with emergency information, medical records, and other important data.

Here’s what’s on it:

  • Emergency Text File – This file, named !Emergency so it stays at the top, has all my personal information (full legal name, date of birth, current address), illnesses I have, medications I’m on, and a few emergency contacts with “In case of emergency, contact” in a few different languages. I also have a printed copy.
  • Passport Image – A scan of my passport
  • Medical Records – I asked my doctor’s office to make me a copy of everything they have. I ran it all through my Canon Pixma all-in-one (much cheaper than a ScanSnap) and saved it as one big PDF.

I like to play worst case scenarios in my mind, and of course the obvious one is what happens if I lose the drive or it gets stolen. Identity security versus medical safety.

I decided to take the risk and not password protect my records because I’d rather be a healthy victim of identity theft than something worse.

I’ve put the drive on a metal chain which I’ll wear around my neck, so it should be very secure.

Any ideas for anything else that should go on the drive?

I’m leaving early tomorrow morning. Follow me to see how things go.

Photo by bruckerrib

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  1. Luis

    Great advise!, never thought of that!… I’ll work on one for me and my wife also!

    Thanks for sharing your idea and experience.


  2. Sarah

    An easier and more secure and possibly more effective solution would be to subscribe to Medic Alert ( (and no, I don’t work for them.)

    For $35 a year (discounts for multiple years), you get an engraved bracelet or necklace with your key medical info on it, the Medic Alert toll free phone number and your ID number. Paramedics world wide are trained to look for Medic Alert bracelets and necklaces and they know to call the number on the tag.

    When they call, several things happen: 1. they can access all the medical info you’ve given Medic Alert and get the contact info for your doctors and hospital 2. Medic alert contacts whomever you’ve designated as your emergency contacts and will contact your doctors, too.

    My tag lists the medication i’m on that paramedics need to know and my diagnoses (i have several chronic conditions). it also lists my allergies.

    My medical records are never on me, and thus not able to be stolen, but medical professionals can access them at any time. You can get a very cheap bracelet or chain that is unlikely to be stolen, but you can also buy gold and silver ones. I make my own beaded ones that I attach the emblem to.

  3. Ben

    Why don`t you put your ATM card pin numbers and bank account details on there aswell, in case you get stranded somewhere and forget what they are?

  4. Anon

    You might also want to full credit card numbers and attach bluetooth and rfid tags to it aswell.

  5. Anthony DuBose

    Check out our product TAC Drive. All the things you have done plus more at a reasonable price.


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