Losing everything...and bouncing back : 2010
We're gathering information for an article about what to do if everything — your passport, credit cards, driver's license, cash, camera, phone, and luggage — is lost or stolen while traveling in Europe. Has it ever happened to you? What did you do? What advice do you feel would be most helpful to someone in this situation? Thanks for sharing your ideas and experiences.
- Please don't post questions here. Use our Travelers Helpline.
I tend to check and re-check everything before we travel as well as during our travels. My wife gets irritated with this sometimes.
This incident didn't happen to me but a co-worker who had been in Italy 7 years by the time this happened and had travelled throughout Europe and a few trips to Africa. He went to Barcelona on a planned trip but without hotel reservations or any cash on him. After catching a taxi from the airport in Barcelona the first thing he did was have the driver take him to an ATM. After taking cash out he slipped his wallet into the pocket of his jacket or so he thought. After being dropped at the hotel and paying with some cash out of his pocket he realized his wallet was gone. Dropped on the floor of the taxi. Hotel would not let him check in or help him find the taxi company. Shortly after a local came up and wrapped his arm around his shoulders acting like he was playing soccer etc. After pushing him away he checked his pockets for his passport and phone. Gone! Within an hour he was penniless, homeless and without a phone. Went to the police to file a report and described the local. The cops knew who he was. Other than filing a report they would not do anything. He started yelling and screaming at them just to get arrested so he would have someplace to sleep but they just threw him out. He ended up in an area frequented by hookers and when he told some of them what had happened they laughed and told him he would have to sell himself to eat. Many of them had ended up there the same way he had. The American consulate was miles across the city and he had no funds left for a taxi, food or drink. After a day or so trying to find help he found a hostel that would let him sleep there for the one thing he had left which was his watch. Luckily a sympathetic fellow traveler heard his story at the hostel and gave him money to get to the consulate for a temp passport. He eventually made it back to Italy and safe but what an awful experience. I can't help but think if he had been a little more prepared that he might have avoided or at least minimized the hassles he went through.
When I start thinking maybe I'm being paranoid with checking on things several times over I just think about my co-worker and Barcelona.
Cesena, USA Wed 12/15/2010
Protecting your valuables
After many trips trying to use a money belt or hanging pocket, I finally developed a very useful solution. I sew a simple "sleeve" large enough to hold my passport and attach (sew) it to the inside of the waistband every pair of slacks or skirt that I am taking with me. My valuables are concealed and I no longer worry about the belt coming unbuckled or slipping off.
Boston, MA USA Sat 12/04/2010
Losing it all and getting it all back
We left a bag with all of our important documents, money, camera, passports, etc. on a bus from San Gimigiano to Siena. We were incredibly lucky because someone turned it into the San Gimigiano police station. It just happened that inside the pouch containing all of our passports and other documents, I had left an itinerary that listed all of our hotels. The police in San G called our hotel in Siena and let us know they had our bag. Not a cent was taken and we got every single thing back. So I guess you never know. We are still grateful to that good honest person who turned our bag into the police.
Davis, Ca USA Fri 12/03/2010
Scammers and Pickpockets in Athens
I followed a guy I thought was helping me, into an already crowded elevator, followed by some other guys at the Larissa station in Athens, Greece. Needless to say my pocket was picked and the police could care less. Even the sterile area of the Acropolis patrolled by police has scammers, don't go with anybody wanting to get to know you, buy you a cup of coffee, that turns to a drink, a good club, etc with each protest, each time leading you farther and farther away... Two Greek I met said, "All Greeks are liars and thieves", I wouldn't go that far but have met more then I could have imagined. Be aware of anyone offering to help, especially when your confused, lost, needing help, etc. These crooks will take advantage. The number of tourist are down but the number of thieves is the same so your more likly to become a victim in the off season.
Zanesville, Ohio USA Mon 11/22/2010
Crowded Metro in Rome
After 3 weeks in Italy with nothing but good weather and good times, we got on the crowded Metro in Rome. My purse was at my side but not in front of me. I think I may have gotten a little too confident. They unzipped it & took my change purse. It had my credit card, 20 Euros and my passport card.
Chesterfield, MO USA Tue 11/09/2010
Starbucks/McDonalds advice, increase of theft
Not so briefly, we are a family of three (mom, dad, 7 year old daughter) visiting Turkey for two weeks. On our fifth day of the trip we were walking on Istiklal Street in Istanbul, a busy pedestrian thoroughfare known for purse-snatching and pickpocketing, so we were on our guard, or so we thought! It's around 3 PM and it's chilly and rainy. My daughter slips on the wet pavement and starts to have a kid melt down. I suggest that we slow down and head to the nearest Starbucks for comfort, heat & relaxation (and I knew there were things there that my kid would eat). We ordered and I used all of the cash I had on me to pay for the order (stroke of luck). We sat down in a grouping of chairs near the front door. My husband's back was turned away from me, putting items down on the table, my daughter picks up a newspaper and has it in front of her face. The front door is behind me, directly to my left. I need to take off my purse in order to get my raincoat off, so I set it directly in front of me on the back of a comfy soft chair. I unzip my coat (remember, most of us look down at the zipper when we do that for a second or two), and when my coat is unzipped I immediately see that my purse is gone, vanished like Houdini was the thief! I felt and saw nothing and neither did any of the 16 people sitting around us and outside of the front door at sidewalk tables.
The anti-theft camera that was positioned on the front door (so this wasn't the first time!) caught the quickest flash of a small child, less than 4 feet tall, a girl in a pink coat that looked to be about 4 or 5 years old. I will tell you that the staff at Starbucks was less than helpful. I would also say that the police were less than helpful as well. Our help that day came from the patrons in the Starbucks and other Turkish people in this fascinating city. Luckily for us, a woman getting her PhD in translation studies was in Starbucks at that moment and came running to our aid, let us use her cell phone to cancel the credit cards in the States and accompanied us for the next three hours while we went to the police station (where no one spoke English). An American reporter just happened to walk in about 10 minutes after the theft and he just happened to have an office around the corner. He let us use his fax machine and computer so I could cancel my i-Phone and have my father fax the copy of my passport to us.
I could go on with more details, but suffice it to say that all pretty much was resolved and proceeded as Rick suggested in his list of tips. We also found the Turkish people to be more than hospitable. I can't overstate that enough. A hotel (that we were not staying in, we rented an apartment) gave us complete access to their lobby computer, to their hotel staff who changed our flights for us, and then they insisted on giving us a free dinner on their rooftop terrace. The chef made a special creation for our daughter. So our crazy day ended under the stars of Istanbul, with a view of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, and surrounded by the care of 10 or more Turkish people who took us under their wing. And the rest of our trip proceeded and we had a wonderful, memorable trip.
In addition to all of the advice that Rick gave in the newsletter and on the website today, here are tips I learned from my theft experience that I will take with me on all my future travels:
1. Theft can occur in the space of less than 2 seconds and right in front of your eyes. Really. No kidding. 2. Yes, as Rick says, your belongings are the safest on your person at all times, in a money belt or in a travel purse (slash-proof such as Pac-Safe brand) worn sideways over your shoulder. BUT whenever you need to take them off/let them go, do this in the safest manner possible. Do so in seclusion with your travel partners around (and not in front of a open door!). 3. If you go into a place known to attract tourists (such as McDonalds, Starbucks, KFC, etc.), know that you are moving into an environment with increased risk for theft and take extraordinary precautions with your belongings and money. There are people looking for tired and hungry tourists in those locations. Some people (both Turks and Americans) told us that our mistake was going into Starbucks, both because of safety concerns and it was not what 'real' travelers should do. Well, with children you sometimes need to make these concessions in order for the trip to be successful for them. 4. Understand that the down-turn in the economy is hurting people world-wide. People who were poor are closer now to starving; these circumstances make everyone more desperate and raises the rate of non-violent theft in every corner of the world. 5. File a police report, no matter how difficult or challenging. And it may be very challenging and inconvenient. Try to find someone who can translate to accompany you to the police station. Often, the police station is where you will encounter the least-number of English speakers in your travels.
Hope this post helps a fellow traveler, where ever your adventures lead you around the world.
Pittsburgh, PA USA Fri 11/05/2010
Lost luggage shopping help
In 2007 a friend and I traveled to Europe for a 2-week trip to France, the Netherlands, and Germany. Our airline lost our luggage and we didn't get it back until the night before we returned to the U.S. We had to shop for clothes and toiletries in Paris and Amsterdam. It would be nice if an online "wiki-list" was available with the names of some clothing stores, drugstores (i.e. H&M in Paris, Etos in Amsterdam), etc. in as many European cities as possible. The list can be compiled and added to by travelers who visit the Rick Steves website.
St. Louis, MO USA Wed 11/03/2010
Pin Those Moneybelts!
Very good examples of why you Always and Every Time PIN your moneybelt to your clothing - either pin the pouch itself or the waist/neck strap. Find a way that works for you.
USA Fri 10/29/2010
I'm a Sucker for Gypsies
Less than an hour in Italy and I lost my passport, 500 euros, driver's license, and credit card. My fault for being naive, over excited about my international trip of a lifetime, and sleep deprived. A man and woman swooped down on my friend with an offer to help us find our seats on the train at the Rome Termini. We allowed ourselves to follow blindly without questioning. Seated, we were then surrounded by a pregnant woman, a woman with a baby and some others who told us we were in their seats. The friend who held the train ticket didn't have the wherewithall to question it and we all got up to leave, reaching for our bags, etc. What were we thinking? At the very least, we should have looked at our ticket and/or told them we'd wait until the conductor sorted it out. After we'd realized we'd been robbed we ran to the police office which is almost hidden in the far reaches of the station (where's the police presence in the station?). Crowded with other victims we filed our reports. The police were not helpful in the least in finding the US Consulate to get another passport. My own instincts kicked in and, borrowing money, I hopped in a cab, found the consulate (almost closed) and prevailed upon them to issue a temp passport. By this time I was crying profusely and in state of shock. The Consul General was extremely comforting and helpful. Everyone stayed late to help me. If I could have left for home, I would have but I had 7 others arriving for my milestone celebration. It's not my nature to think of crime when traveling, but that lesson has been learned. It's easier said than done to not let an event like this ruin your trip. It will always be a part of re-visiting the memories. It's definitely ruined traveling for me. It's galling to me to know these predators fall under protections like an endangered speicies. I'm even thinking of starting a line of fashionable clothing that conceals money, passport, etc.
Debbie's Now a Downer
San Francisco, CA USA Sat 10/23/2010
All is Not Lost
I always wear a moneybelt when I travel, as I did on my last night in London about 10 years ago. I had decided to take an evening Jack-the-Ripper walking tour and returned to my b&b near Victoria Station around midnight to pack for my return flight home very early the next morning. That's when I realized I didn't have my moneybelt, with my passport, credit card, cash, extra passport photos, ATM card. I looked EVERYWHERE in the room for it, packing and unpacking half a dozen times. No luck. I finally went to bed but couldn't sleep. I kept mentally retracing every step I took that day. Then I remembered that someone in a car had honked at me as I crossed the street on the way back to my b&b after the tour, but as it was very late and I was alone, I just ignored it. At dawn the day, I got dressed and walked the few blocks to the place where someone had honked at me the night before. As I got close to the corner, I saw something that looked like paper in the middle of the road. I quickened my pace and broke into a run as I got closer. Sure enough, it was my moneybelt, with a tire mark on it! All the contents were intact. I couldn't believe my good fortune. Lesson: Tuck your moneybelt INSIDE your underwear! I was wearing pants and you'd think I would have felt a moneybelt sliding slowly down my leg, but I was distracted enough while I was sightseeing not to have noticed.
San Francisco, CA USA Sat 10/23/2010
Stolen trail runners
I have traveled in Europe several times over the years and have never had a theft problem. But I just got back from my last trip and thought I'd share a story to save someone else some hassle. We spent three wonderful days hiking in beautiful Cinque Terre then wandering the countryside of Provence. Upon our arrival to a Florence hotel, we unpacked the rental car but I left my gray, lightweight, New Balance trail runners in the car trunk. They were new for the trip but had gotten muddy while hiking and the soles smelled like rubber so I left them in the trunk. The garage guy came and picked up the car to valet it for the night and I didn't think twice about it. I got the car next morning for a day trip to Cortona before returning the rental car and switching back to trains. The shoes, of course, were gone. Not a big deal if it had been the end of the trip but I was on my way to Switzerland to hike in Berneroberland. Aaaaaaaaaaargh! So I returned the car and tried to find new trail runners along the way. Would you believe the lowest cost Asics or Nikes were running about 300 euros or $400 in Switzerland??! I skipped buying a new pair and went hiking in comfortable ballet flats, the most stylish hiker in the Alps. It helps to think the person that took them may have needed shoes more than I did.
CO USA Fri 10/08/2010
With all the hard luck stories here, I thought I'd add my two miracle stories of lost and found. I've just returned from a fabulous week in Italy and could have come back senza (without) a bracelet I've worn for 20 years and my iPhone but have them both in my possession. Miracle I: The four silver/gold bracelets I've worn for decades each have sentimental value and often set off airport metal detectors. When I'm smart, I take them off when waiting in security lines and zip them into my carry on. In the Charles de Gaule airport, however, I was not smart (or too tired to think) and simply placed them in a security bin, along with my bag. Post-detector, I grabbed my stuff and walked away. About 30 yards away, rushing to my next flight, I realized there were just three bracelets, where there should have been four. Returning to the security area, I mimed and used poor French to indicate my loss. A helpful officer understood my plight and searched the area. He found the missing bracelet stuck underneath the conveyor belt! Quelle bon chance! Miracle II: In Rome, at night, I stopped with a friend in a random snack bar for a quick nip of Prosecco. She and I studied my iPhone for travel tips and then moved on to our tour of the Jewish ghetto. Nearly in the ghetto (and about ten minutes away) we realized my iPhone was not in my bag. We managed to rush back to the bar (despite the dark, and our tendency to get lost) and found a waiter searching my phone for a way to contact me. Ciņ che buona fortuna! What are your miracle lost and found travel tales?
Minneapolis, mn USA Sun 10/03/2010
Emperor Without Clothes
My story involves my boss. A world-wide but incautious traveler, he left "everything" in the trunk of his rental car while he went for a dip along the Algarve. It's tough to be without money, passport, etc. It's even tougher if the emperor also has no clothes!! Running around in swim trunks to find help can be embarrassing. Finally, he got the police to call our office in Germany and eventually we wired him everything he needed - except clothes. The moral of this story is obvious: everybody except you knows the plate number for local rental cars.
Pendleton, SC USA Thu 09/30/2010
ATM machine ate my card
While in Turkey, I needed a bit more cash for the last 24 hours before I left. I went to an ATM in a kiosk - the kind that has a locked door which opens with a swipe of the credit card. Inside were several young men. At the ATM machine inside the kiosk, the credit card did not work at first; one young man stepped forward to "help" me. On the third try - he probably knew that - the ATM machine "ate" my card. I immediately went to the nearest branch of the bank affiliated with the ATM machine. They told me to call the US and cancel my card because it was a known, to them, scam that the ATM machines were rigged to eat the cards and then the young men would retrieve the cards and use them. I cancelled the card. The daily maximum of $300 was withdrawn from my account. Fortunately, by notifying the issueing the bank, I was not responsible for the withdrawl. Lesson learned: do not use a kiosk in which people are loitering.
Bend, OR USA Thu 09/30/2010
Money belt fell off - lost everything
I took a solo trip to England on my very first trip to Europe in 1996. On my last full day in London before I went back home, my money belt fell off while I was out walking (it had a faulty catch). I was wearing a raincoat at the time, so didn't notice it. Unfortunately, I had ALL my cash, credit cards and passport in the bag. The only thing I didn't have in it was my plane ticket home and a blank check. Luckily, I had a photocopied the ID page of my passport, which made it easier to get a new one from the embassy. Also, I had already bought a transit pass for that day, so I was able to get back and forth between AMEX and the embassy quickly. Unluckily, I had no money to get new passport photos made. I had an AMEX card, however, and was able to go to the American Express office in London and have them cash a check for me. After that, I filed a police report (very important, as you will see!), then got my photos, got a new passport, and took the rest of the money from AMEX and had a very nice dinner with a half-bottle of wine! My biggest advice: never put all your eggs (credit cards) in one basket. Leave some emergency cash and at least one card someplace safe. Also, always bring a copy of your passport (or scan it and email it to yourself). Lastly, if at all possible, don't let it ruin your trip! I spent a half day trying to fix things and could easily have gotten depressed and spent the evening in my room. Instead, I had a nice dinner, then went and saw the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London. It was a wonderful night! PS: About a week after I got home, the woman who owned the B&B where I stayed called me. The police notified her that a student had found my missing money belt. She mailed everything back to me - ever the money was included (about 60 pounds). I sent the money to the student as a reward, but was happy to have my real passport back and my credit cards!
Cincinnati, OH USA Sun 09/26/2010
I used a moneybelt for the first time while in Europe. Europe seems safer than the US, but the moneybelt was cheap insurance: who wants to lose c. cards, passport, etc. in a foreign country? It was bulky, but gave me peace of mind.
Jupiter, FL USA Fri 09/24/2010
Manic paranoia - avoid it!
Reading the last few posts just makes me think some people are wayyy too PARANOID!!!!
USA Wed 09/22/2010
Better to safe than sorry
Better to error on the side of caution than lose: ATM cards, Credit Cards, Passports, Eurail Tickets and your money. What posters have listed do and will happen continue to happen in the future. So be safe and let the tourists that do not believe in these incidents take their chances.
CA USA Wed 09/22/2010
1) Expect to encounter a pickpocket or thief somewhere. Prepare for it. 2) Always keep your passport, credit cards, and major money in a moneybelt. Only keep what you don't mind losing in your billfold or purse. Yes, it may be a bit uncomfortable but think of regrets if you are ripped off! It's not a bad idea to carry a dummy wallet that could be pickpocketed without significant loss.
3) Make photo copies of your passport, driver's license, and credit cards (front and back.) This will be invaluable if you need a replacement or need to call to cancel. Also, you could give copy of passport to hotels if they request to keep passport at registration for local laws. Keep copies separate from real cards or ID.
4) Always be aware of your surroundings - particularly in crowded situations. If you are bumped, be particularly aware of what is happening and check belongings.
5) Many pickpockets work in teams. Be especially alert when children - especially babies - can be used to divert attention away from your belongings.
6) It is always safer to keep a companion with you. Avoid wandering off on your own.
7) Have a second ATM card in case one gets eaten by machine as happened to us in Paris airport and at street ATM in Falmouth, County Cornwall, England. It is best not to get money out on a Sunday when banks are closed.
Pekin, IL USA Sat 09/18/2010
How to not lose your money on a trip
Buy one or two of those prepaid credit cards and put the minimum amount on the card. Then put it into some cheap wallets and when someone is trying to take your money you give the wallet filled with copies of Euros that you make on a copy machine. Hand over the wallet and you did not lose anything.
Ca USA Fri 09/17/2010
1. Make a scanned copy of your documents and store in your email account. 2. Take your card with you. If your card gets stolen you can just call up your bank and cancel the card. You can't call up the bank and cancel cash. 3. If you have absolutely no money left then get to a church and ask for assistance. Be safe!
USA Fri 09/10/2010
ATM ate card
Was traveling through Rome and needed money, used the kind of ATM that is motorized and takes your card into the machine. It never came back out! The ATM machine ate my card! My only one-and it was a holiday weekend-no banks were open! Moral of the story (and one I practice now ALL the time...), don't use the ATM machines that take your ATM card, use the ones that you swipe your card through.
Texas USA Fri 09/10/2010
Debacle in Paris
I didn't lose absolutely *everything* but almost, and this is why you always use a moneybelt. I was traveling alone (I'm a 57-year-old experienced woman traveler) and I arrived at midday at the Gare du Nord in Paris. I was exhausted from travel that day and was fumbling with my purse at the metro ticket-buying machines. One minute I had my wallet, the next minute it was gone. I lost all credit cards and most of my money. Fortunately I still had my passport. However, imagine this situation: I was alone, knew *nobody* in Paris at that particular moment, had no credit or ATM cards and only about $20 cash. In addition, I had no hotel reservation but was planning to stay with a Parisian family (whom I did not know). Their address was in my stolen wallet! Thank *god* I could speak French. I went to an info kiosk in the train station and explained my predicament and they suggested I go to the post office to try to get the address of my hosts. The post office was closing in 5 minutes. I managed to get to the post office and again explained my predicament and asked if I could please have the address of my hosts (again, thank *god* I knew how they spelled their last name, because I no longer had any written information on them). I was told the post office could only give me their phone number. Well, this would do. I called the family on the phone, again explained my predicament and received directions to their home. Within 15 minutes I was at their doorstep and help had arrived! By the way, every French government employee I spoke with was kind, sympathetic and helpful. I left Paris feeling very different about French people after that. But what a frightening way to gain such insight! And yes, I was wearing a money belt, but for some reason that day I had put all my credit cards and most of my money in my wallet. Never, ever again!
Los Angeles, CA USA Mon 08/30/2010
Lost Everything in Israel
At the end of a 12 hour day of van touring half of Israel including a hike up Masada, a blown tire in the middle of nowhere, a long wait for a spare to arrive and a serious knee injury to one of my companions; our tour ended at the city gates of Jerusalem. From there we took one of the ubiquitous white mini-van taxis to a hotel in East Jerusalem because my friend with the knee injury couldn't walk comfortably. Several minutes after arriving at the hotel one of my companions realized that she had left her money belt (with passport, credit cards, cash, everything) in the taxi. I felt hopeless for a moment until I realized that the taxi would most likely be going right back to the city gates to pick up another fare. Resolving to do the only thing I could think of, I handed all of my gear to my friends, leaving them in the hotel lobby, and sprinted back to the city gates. At the city gates I gazed upon a row of about 200 identical white taxi vans. I was running from van to van trying to identify the driver or some feature that would trigger a memory when suddenly I saw the curtains in a van that was just loading passengers. I ran to the van's open side door and dove inside. The first startled look on the driver's face was followed by a flash of puzzled recognition. This was the right van! And there was the money belt between the seat and the wall! I returned to a hero's welcome at the hotel. The lessons are: Don't take off your money belt no matter how hot and sticky you get and don't despair or give up if you lose something. If you act quickly you may be able to retrieve it.
San Diego, CA USA Fri 08/27/2010
Lost ATM Card
I lost my ATM card in the machine 5 days after starting my trip. The bank said it might have been due to using it on a weekend (requeting money within 24hours/bank not open in US) Luckily, I had opened a second account before the trip with enough money to cover expenses.
Inverness, Florid USA Wed 08/25/2010
Bag stolen in Rome
We were two women travelling a few days in Europe before a Turkey and Greece cruise. Thought we would do a 'fast' trip throught the Vatican museum. Didn't unpack valuables and money and too hot for money belt. (We have travelled a number of times in Europe....obviously a little carelessly confident). After finishing we looked for a cafe near the Vatican for lunch. Long story short...I put everything (passport, debit cards, credit cards, money, camera, etc.)in my Rick Steves day bag and tucked it under the table. A woman speaking italian came to our table distraught, (distracting us) while her fella stole the bag from behind me!!! We chased her but thought better not to. We couldn't get on Cruise! Had very limited funds, as a result. Canadian Embassy closed until after the weekend! We were staying at the Beehive, and Steve found us a room for 3 days in Rome. We got a temporary passport and he encouraged us not to leave Europe. We travelled to Cinque Terra and spent the rest of our 12 days there. Great way to sort it out in our heads. Learn from a 'careless' mistake on my part. Advice? Sticking together rather than directing blame. We became better travellers because we forced ourselves to reach out and talk to people. Emailed home for a daily dose of encouragement. Pesto pizza in Cinque Terra helped alot. Travelling with less money didn't hurt us. Our experiences and the people of Cinque Terra warmed our hearts. Moral of the story? I NEVER leave anywhere without my money belt on. A learning experience I share with all travellers I talk to. And we still love Rome. Going back in September 2010.
Ontario, Canada Sun 08/08/2010
pb&j popular in lean times...
We were two women travelling in Italy alone for 2 weeks. While deployed in Iraq, my daughter's debit card was cancelled and reissued unbeknownst to her. For a week we were on a VERY tight budget, while the problem was sorted out! Here's the tip: We bought a loaf of bread (like the ones at home) peanut butter and jelly and made pb&j sandwiches and put them right back into the bread bag. It was our food for a whole day and delicious! ha, ha...well you had to be there...
Painesville, OH USA Thu 08/05/2010
Here is a list of what has happened personally:
Lost (or stolen) passport- A young, and inexperienced traveller (me) walking in front of the Forum in Rome. At some point, became separated from the money belt that slipped its knot or was 'slipped' off me in a crowd. Back then, you needed your passport to exchange travellers' checks, which is why it was with me in the first place.
Hard knock experience resolutions - Do not wear a loose shirt with a money belt (duh!). Keep your passport safe and secure in a locked section of your suitcase at all times until you absolutely need to fetch it out. If you DO lose your passport, do it in a city with a U.S embassy so you can get another one issued (this is another reason why you photocopy your passport), or at least can get to it quckly by train. Also, remember to prep your looks a bit for the picture they will take. Both of us looked like scared psychos for ten years in our passport photos. Besides being a reminder of our (my) mistake, the looks on the faces of custom officials every time was unsettling. Also, plan to take care of this over all other things. It took a full day to resolve.
Money stolen out of wallet - It was on a chain hooked to my belt, but on the Paris metro, it must have looked like Christmas came early. Crowded, had to stand. Someone just slipped it out during all the bumping, extracted the money, and left it hanging, not noticed by the numbbutt tourist until he felt it banging against his leg once he exited the Metro. Couple hundred dollars in it.
Second time, in Rome - Very crowded tram, got shoved from behind hard as huge crowd tried to board the tram. Wearing a fanny pack with the wallet in it. (yeah, all those stories about what NOT to do when travelling? Mostly because of me).
Hard knock experience resolution - Just do not put your wallet on a chain, obviously. Tells the crook where to steal your money. Since I started wearing twill travel shirts with secure front pockets, have not been bothered at all by anyone. Crooks simply cannot get to it. Also, it is a small travel wallet with one credit card and the days cash in it, only.
The Rome incident did not result in my losing my wallet - because my wife thought this was a prime time to check my fanny pack for security. (I am tall. I do not always know what is going on down there. She is 'one of them', so has better access to 'their' activities) She felt a hand instead of my wallet in the unzippered fanny pack. Started screaming to me to grab my wallet. Crook dropped it on the floor as wife yelled "thief, thief" or something. I went for the wallet, naturally, as people were standing on it by then. Business man on board the train flipped the guy out of the car at the next stop. Crook has on a heavy coat. How many wallets do you think were still on him?
No luggage - at the Rome airport (think there might be a message in all of this?), our luggage was not on the Frankfort flight coming in.
Resolution - Mainly clothes and toilettries, of course, as all essentials like passports, money, credit cards, pills, were with us. So we bought Italian underwear and a couple of shirts, had our landlord negotiate with the Italian lost luggage people with Lufthansa for three days, and the night before we left Rome, they delivered it to our apartment. Main problem was the constant phone calls to either the landlord or the lost luggage officials as we tried to wander around Rome, causing us to miss valuable touring time. Also, and this is VERY important. Report to the lost luggage people immediately while still at the airport and file a report with them, no matter how tired you are, and you will be. This is essential. Do NOT planned on returning the next day, for instance, or you will probablly never see your luggage again. Lady on our cruise ship on the same trip did not file a missing luggage report and she never got even a hint about her luggage the rest of her trip. No record of it seemed to get to the right people.
ATM money snafu - In Venice, the ATM reported money was handed out and printed a recipe that I had gotten my 400 euros, but no money was received. This happened at 8:00 at night. You have to return the next day or hope you can resolve this when you get home if you are leaving the next day. We could go back to the bank the next day and it turned out they had a record of the ATM machine apparently jamming and 40 euros still with them they should not have had. So they made us sign some papers and gave us the $400 euros. With our credit card, we could electronically advance money to our ATM checking account, which we did as well. This is really not a big deal if you have good records and a good credit card company. They usually will cover this type of thing.
Getting locked out of your hotel room late at night - In Riffin, Wales. It was raining, it was very late (2:00 am) and it was a 400 year old hotel with no one on duty at that time and they had locked up.
Resolution - They should account for people not in yet or hand out keys to customers, which most do. As it was, the huge oak door was soundproof. So we broke into the hotel. Not all solutions are going to be neat and pretty. We found an open door off a fire escape on the third floor and invited ourselves into the room of another patron of the hotel. Could have been dicey, but it wasn't.
No hotel reservation and all room in the city booked - This was in Granada, Spain - an isolated city not near anything else, really. A big festival in town had created a full occupancy issue at all the hotels. We never found a room and by midnight, chose to sleep the night in our compact car, facing the Alhambra. Beautiful spot to freeze to death, I thought. It snowed that night. Put on all of our clothes and crammed ourselfs inside. It was not one of our best nights travelling.
Solution - We always book our rooms ahead of time, either from hear or at least a few days ahead while there.
Sacramento, California USA Wed 08/04/2010
My two children and I travelled to Rome, Florence, Assisi, Naples and Pompeii using Rick Steve's ETBD. I have to say we tried our best to stay on budget, we did well. The only negative thing concerning the trip occured in Florence. We stayed at the Maxim, excellent choice of accomodation recommended by Rick; I needed to get some of my son's clothes washed, asked the hotel for some suggestions, she recommended a Wash & Dry a street off the Duomo, the facility was good and clean. I was the only one there,due to the heat, I was standing right outside the front door catching the breeze. A man from a Pub, two doors down, went into the facility, I thought he was getting change, I only turned away for a second. I did'nt realize the pieces of clothing were gone until I started to fold the clothes. I felt so stupid, I was right there; but, I was thankful I was outside and not in the facility, since I was alone, it could have been worse. This thief may have done this before.
McAllen, Texas USA Wed 08/04/2010
Our one carry-on bag was stolen off the Thalys train between Paris and Brussels. We suspect that someone followed us onto the train when we loaded in Paris and took if off the racks before the train even left the station. All our important things, however, were in our money belts and in our small backpacks we kept close at hand. We made the last 3 days of our trip wearing only the clothes we were wearing on that day, and we learned a valuable lesson. Don't let your bags out of your sight. Ever. We were so lucky that only boring clothing and a few souvenirs and items of cheap jewelry were in that stolen bag. We comfort ourselves with the knowledge that the thief was sorely disappointed in what he/she found in that bag. We just wish we had the bag. It was a great lightweight RS bag. Remember, train travel is great; just watch your bags.
Tx USA Sat 07/31/2010
While it wasn't "everything" I did have a chaperone for trip I was leading lose $10,000 plus in traveler's checks. First thing, don't panic.
Second good lesson, make sure someone else has cash/credit etc. If you are traveling with a spouse/friend/whatever don't entrust one person with EVERYTHING. Luckily I had a large credit limit on my card and access to cash to tide us over.
Third Lesson... PATIENCE Getting it all dealt with will take a while. (American Express wanted a police report due to the size of the theft for example) However, screaming, getting hysterical and acting out probably won't help (while we didn't have that, I saw it just this past Monday at the airport. Woman was SCREAMING at everyone trying to assist her making it impossible to get things fixed!)
Atlanta, GA USA Mon 07/26/2010
You can always get to a computer. Have essential information stored on your home computer such as a scanned copy of your passport and driver's license, bank international numbers and a tip as to what your password is, something like "neighbors annoying dog". 1st stop is the police. They can contact the American Embassy and or the local version of the Red Cross for emergency assistance 24/7. Don't speak the local language...trust me someone in town speaks at least some limited English (the local school teacher or a student). ALWAYS travel with a buddy. Your buddy/spouse whomever it is should carry a copy of your I.D. and vice versa. There's nothing worse than being really really sick and being alone in a foreign hospital etc.
San Diego, CA USA Sun 07/25/2010