Losing everything...and bouncing back : 2011
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.
Shoeless in Seattle
I just returned from Barcelona yesterday. On the way home I took off my shoes and could not find one of them when we arrived. All the attendants tried to help find it but it was long gone. I have heard of socks getting lost in the dryer but not shoes on an airplane. The next time I will bring some nice socks and take off my shoes and put them in my carry on!
Bellevue, WA - W USA Fri 12/30/2011
Losing everything and bouncing back
This happened to us in France. We did exactly what Rick suggested in his article "losing everything and bouncing back". About half way through our trip, my husband and I lost our passports, cash, credit and debit cards and my husband's drivers license. Fortunately I still had my drivers license and a separate credit card. Before we canceled our debit card, we withdrew as much cash out of the ATM as allowed. The staff at the American Embassy in Paris were exceptional. Within 2 hours we were issued new passports and were on our way. I am so glad we didn't let this ruin our trip. Actually this turned out to be one of my favorite vacations. I have been a faithful follower of Rick Steves for years and the knowledge I have received from his books and TV shows made this situation easier to overcome.
Zellwood, Fl USA Mon 12/12/2011
theft on the Swiss train
We were on the train between Paris and Stressa, Italy - after Geneva, Switzerland - we believe our small suitcase was stolen from the compartment at the end of the train car and the person got off at Lucana, Switzerland. Always, keep your luggage within eyesight on trains - and remember to report it to the police and the hotel as the insurance company will ask for that as well as when you purchased things and their value - we are still waiting the results of our insurance claim
Fort Collins, CO USA Wed 11/30/2011
Both of us pickpocketed in the Metro in Rome. Husband lost wallet - they got my VISA from my bra!!! I never felt a thing!! Luckily, we were able to board our ship, and NCL was kind enough to email my daughter, who withdrew my savings, put it on her credit card and authorized NCL to use that. NCL even gave us cash so we would be ok on our side trip to Venice when we disembarked.
Boise, ID USA Fri 11/18/2011
Lost Everything Think Like Rick
Before I even lost anything I would make sure I had copies of all of my documents, passports, drivers license in four different places. The first place I would leave a copy is in a locked drawer at home and only a trusted neighbor would know where my key was.
I would then make sure my neighbor had a copy, a relative out of town and possibly even a European relative who would have my plans etc.
I would take down my credit card#s and emergency phone numbers, local consulate info beforehand so that way I will be able to contact them in an emergency.
Credit Cards will sometimes allow you to check into a hotel using emergency funds if you don't have the actual credit card they can work something out.
I would carry two sets of credit cards each with an authorized user and they would both be either Master Card or Visa and if one was lost I would have backup card ready to go while I get the new card sent to me.
If I am in a town with a relative and he or she agrees they could help with finances and I would repay them when I got access to the cash. They may even have a friend in the city I am in who can help me with transportation food etc.
This may not be the best way to see Europe but you would see Europe from a different perspective . You can have fun even if you just lost everything. Be creative.
There may be churches or synagogues who can help you. Call them and tell the clergy your predicament. A lot of times they have home stays where you can be hosted by a congregant and they will help you. Later on you make a donation. Sometimes these places will have gift cards to local supermarkets etc, and passes to use the local transportation. They may even have passes to museums or can tell you about free sights.
Don't cry and take a deep breath do what your intuition tells you and think about what Rick Steves would do in this situation and try to do the same. I am sure Rick lost something and he is here today and survived it.
Saratoga, CA USA Wed 11/16/2011
Having been pickpocketed now TWICE in Barcelona, my rule is this: There's only one SURE way not to get robbed in Barcelona - never go to Barcelona.
Elora, TN USA Thu 10/20/2011
Two days into our trip to Paris, I was pickpocketed on the Metro, losing my drivers license, credit and debit cards and my medical card. Luckily, the passports were in my wife's purse. At first we were panicked, then horribly disappointed, then we realized it was what it was, and we needed to act. We cancelled our credit cards with BofA and arranged to have them overnighted to a little town where we were going to travel. We cancelled the debit card, but didn't need to cancel my wife's because it is a different number (did you know that about joint debit cards???). That allowed us to debit our bank account at an ATM for Euros. We refilled our bank account from savings via transfers with online banking with BofA. Because we had passports, we never needed drivers licenses, and our medical plan said not to worry...if we needed medical help we'd settle it up when we got back. Voila! Before the day was over we were back on our feet and having a great time. Lesson? Don't panic! There's always a solution.
Woodland Hills, CA USA Tue 10/04/2011
While traveling from Antwerpen to Brugge this September we had our carry on bag stolen at Berchem station. We were not wearing our money belts and lost our passports, US$, and train tickets. Along with both cameras and 3 weeks of pictures. By the time I added up what was in the bag it was over $2,500 and took 2 days of our lives to straighten out. Never carry both cameras in one bag and keep pictures on smaller cards that you keep on you. Having good travel insurance is also a great idea. A commerical identy protection company is a good idea. They can get all your important docs to you and start monitoring your personal credit sites to stop someone from using your ID. We were lucky as we still had credit card and ATM cards. The thief got about $150 but put a big hole in our lives.
Barb & Lou Borbely
Bellingham, WA USA Tue 10/04/2011
Anytime we have to leave our luggage at the end of the rail car in the luggage racks, we use these PacSafe luggage locks.
CA USA Tue 09/27/2011
THALYS/BACK things up! Split things up! Get good insurance.
Traveling on the Thallys train between Koln and Brussels, we had a backpack with several thousand dollars of souvenirs , computer, clothes, and many memories, stolen. Luckily, by backing up photos DAILY from camera to computer and NOT deleting from the SD card (carry enough SD cards! and pack them separate from computer!), and then packing them in separate bags, we still had our photos. By carrying our money, passports, and credit cards in money belt, we still had those. By carrying SMART phone (iPhone) separate from computer, we were still able to communicate (via Skype) with home, cheaply. We could still get on the internet, we could still send emails, still photo/scan the police report to send to the insurance company. Basically: Think of how to SPLIT things up/BACK things up into two places, and then PACK them separately. Carry as many small valuables as you can ON YOUR BODY. MOST of all---beware of the fact that you CAN NOT pack your bags ABOVE you, as you can on most trains, on some of the new "business" oriented bullet trains in europe, which make you put your bags at the END of the Train...Then, thieves take what they want when the train stops at an intermediate stop. Good luck, be careful, then have fun! Last but not lease, spend the small amount of money to get a baggage and health travel policy, for the peace of mind. In 20 years of european travel, I have only had TWO problems. I was SO glad to have the insurance, both times, or I'd have been REALLY out of luck.
Aptos, CA USA Sun 09/25/2011
A thief did me a favor!
Whenever I traveled abroad I would always use my cell-phone because it was the most convenient way to make a call. Even though I limited my calls, I always racked up a big bill.
On my last trip to Buenos Aires, my old, worn-out cell phone was stolen. The international rate for my service plan was $1.99 a minute.
I went back to my apartment, and bought $10 of credit with SKYPE on my laptop. I called to have my stolen phone disabled. All of my phone calls cost pennies a minute. The amount of money I saved, more than made up for the cost of a new phone.
Although it's not as convenient as a cell-phone, SKYPE is more convenient, and cheaper than a calling card.
Reno, NV USA Sun 08/07/2011
Stolen Goods while traveling
Last week on a day-trip to Marseille my husband's Kindle was stolen out of the front pouch of his backpack. The thief was quite skilled, because we don't know when and where it happened. We suspect, however, that it was either in the very-crowded TI or on a very crowded street corner. I noticed his bag unzipped standing at the corner across from the Fish Market area at the Old Port and across from the TI.
We reported the theft at the police department. (All of the Marseille police personnel where polite, respectful, and helpful. The police women told me to take off my earrings and small neck chain. The policeman told us it was too dangerous to go to cybercafes.). The concierge at the Europe Hotel on rue Beauvau very kindly allowed us to use its computer so that we could de-register our Kindle, and notify Amazon.com of the theft (they have marked the serial number so that no one will be able to register it). (Additionally, the hotel looks like it might be a nice Rick-type of place if you want to over night in Marseille).
We don't yet know if our travel insurance will cover it, and we will wait till we get back to check it all out (we do have a report from the Marseille police about the incident if required).
I had heard and read in Rick's guide and on his radio show that Marseille's reputation is improving. That may be true - the police were much, much nicer than Boston cops, and many other people were helpful and friendly - but the city seems to have a large population of people in difficult circumstances who try to solve them through theft.
We have traveled Europe with Rick Steves' advice for about 30 years now and always wear money belts, but it didn't occur to us that someone would steal a "book" out of our backpack. Now with all the electronic devices that people are traveling with (iPods, iPhones, iPads, Kindle's, etc.) we perhaps need another level of vigilance.
So, for those of you traveling to Marseille, plan accordingly and stay alert.
Finally, although we spent much time with the police, this incident was nothing compared to our very serious auto accident in Spain last year. The Kindle is only a "thing" that can be replaced if we chose.
R and B
Quincy, MA USA Fri 08/05/2011
Easy (sleazy) Jet / lost luggage
FYI. Pass on Easy Jet ! Lost our checked bag on a non stop flight, Ireland to Paris. Didn't get bag back until late the night before we had to leave Paris. WORST customer service I have even run into with an airline !! They simply didn't care, didn't offer anything, and I was never allowed to talk to a supervisor (12 phone calls). AVOID Easy Jet !!!!
Mill Creek, WA USA Mon 08/01/2011
Bag stolen in Japan
"Japan but the message and experience is universal" I had purchased a messenger bag for my travels to carry my daily needs. My first day arriving in Kyoto started like any other. I figured out my destination put what I needed in my bag; passport, ~400us, JR railpass, and misc stuff.
I had rented a bike with a basket in front. Off I went, bag on my back until I saw another tourist with their bag in the carrier. Common sense left me and I thought thats easier than lugging it on my back so in the carrier it went. I ride by a nice picture spot and thought I will get off the bike for a sec take the picture and carry on.
I put the bike in the designated roped off area, this is about 7am and no one is around. Walk about 10 ft away and become focused on my picture...turn back and my bag is gone. I was amazed at the speed and not a clue anywhere as to who took my bag, no one was around.
I spent the next four hours playing charades with the Kyoto police department. Great police, they were amazed this happened and kept asking me if I was sure I didn't misplace it. Luckily, I had taken pictures of my passport photo and emailed them and credit card numbers to myself(cannot lose what's in the Cloud). I got on the internet figured out what I needed to do..police report, documents, and headed on to my next stop in Osaka to visit the consulate and had my mom stateside purchase another Railpass and fedex overnight as I had barely even started my travels. Funny thing was in Osaka, first thing I see when exiting the train, a WARNING picture of a scary monster reaching for a person belonging's...you guessed it in the bike carrier. Where was that picture in Kyoto?
Moral of the story--Don't ever let your guard down no matter how safe you have heard a place is. I feel this was my undoing, after hearing how safe and honest Japan is. So i got half of it right I was a fool for leaving my bag out of my sight for a second, but I had planned for the worst so it wasn't hard recovering.
Tustin, CA USA Wed 07/27/2011
Car Rental Insurance and slashed tire scam
The G-wall was very helpful for us on our recent trip to Spain/France. It would have been more so had I had my wits about me and recalled the "slashed-tire-steal-car-contents" posts once we found ourselves in that situation, but "in the heat of battle" (trying to get our car rental co. to help with road assistance to change a tire and then having to change the tire myself) it didn't come to mind.
There are two take-home messages in this story: 1. check your rental car tires for flats every time you return to where you parked it. This is hard to remember to do when you're having fun on vacation. 2. Don't bother buying TravelGuard insurance for rental cars unless you get "the whole enchilada" directly from the rental car agency, which can be ridiculously expensive (more than the daily car rental rate).
With those take-homes in mind, here's our story:
We spent two weeks in Spain (and a day or two in S. France). Wonderful time. Barcelona, Figueres, Cadaquez (wow!), Carcasonne, Toulouse, Biarritz, Donostia/San Sebastian, & wine country (La Rioja). Great memories.
But while we were tasting wine in La Rioja, thieves slashed the inside of the left rear tire. We didn't notice it when got back in the car (3 wineries later?) at the parking lot in the wine barrio of Logrono, in the heart of Rioja. The lot was rough cobble, so we didn't notice it as we left the lot. But as we got on asphalt, we noticed the car handling funny. By that time we had entered the highway. So we pulled off to the shoulder, checked. and found the flat. I called Sixt Car Rental for road assistance, only to be told that since we hadn't purchased "tire and window insurance," they would not help us. I had purchased car rental insurance (CDW) directly from TravelGuard for both the trip and the car (separately). When I complained that I had not been offered tire and window insurance, they said that since I hadn't bought the (same, TravelGuard) insurance directly from Sixt, I was ineligible for it, so was not offered it. Another scam insurance ploy to take money without ever intending to cover damages. They probably sell "carpet" insurance but don't tell anybody that, either.
OK, so now I'm on my hands and knees changing a tire with big rigs roaring by me about 3-4 feet away. My wife is busy with red flare sticks directing bigrigs away from our car, the passenger side door is open (mistake), and my wife says "look, that nice man on the other side of the road is offering his cell phone to help us." But while that nice man was diverting her attention across the road, and I was knee-deep in lugnuts, his accomplice was sneaking up to the car on our side of the road to take her purse from the passenger floorboards. He probably would have tried to take our luggage too, but that was near us by the trunk.
Now the flat's fixed and we're back on the road to Haro to get a replacement for the blowout tire ($150 high-end Michelin was "all they had that matched size"). A few miles down the road my wife noticed her purse missing. So back to Logrono we went, to the 3 wineries, to ask about lost and found. Nothing. We still hadn't put 2+2= tire slash/thieves together yet, despite all my graffiti reading.
Now its a rush to the US Embassy for a passport replacement for my wife so we could board a plane home the next day. When we told our story to the folks there, they said "you were victim of tire-slash thieves." It all made sense, and a review of the inner sidewall tire photo I took at the tire store told the same story: a 3" gash radially in the inner sidewall... new tires don't blow out in that pattern.
So here's the wonderful news about travel insurance: fine print. We were insured four ways: 1. Trip TravelGuard 2. Car Rental TravelGuard 3. VISA purchase/rental insurance 4. Homeowner's Insurance My wife's purse had the usual: credit card, driver's license, health insurance card, passport, a camera with 300-400 photo memories of our trip, and about $350 in cash. All evaporated. The purse content amounted to about $700 out of pocket. Hassling all four insurance contracts for weeks after we returned, we find that none of the policies cover the loss. One said "you didn't have tire/window insurance so you're not covered" and "we don't cover cash." Another said this policy is for your plane flight and luggage only. A third had a deductible/pro-rate policy that made it ridiculous to bother filing the paperwork. And the fourth also didn't cover cash and had an $1100 deductible.
My take-home from all of the above is that travel insurance is another way corporate interests scam a public while their attention is diverted to planning a wonderful vacation, and not on contract details or issues they know nothing about (c'mon, really, "tire and window insurance?") Why would a car rental agency offer tire and window insurance separately unless their calculations showed that their major losses were from slash-and-grab or smash-and-grab in the first place? And why don't they tell you this up front? So they don't have to pay on claims.
Bottom line: TravelGuard insurance premiums added another $150 to our $700 losses and I'll never bother to buy it again.
Hopefully, this experience of ours will provide fair warning to others planning trips to Europe, and they can make decisions accordingly. While we didn't let these events spoil our great memories, generally, of a fantastic trip, we'll be better prepared next time.
And by the way, we found an angel in Spain: a lovely, bright woman named Anna behind the counter at Muga Winery tasting room in Logrono, who dropped everything she was doing to help us. She escorted us to the Guardia Civil in Logrono to file a police report about the stolen purse, and kept in contact with us for weeks afterward to find out how the story ended. If you find yourself in La Rioja, pay a visit and say "Hello" to Anna for us. She's one in a million!
Santa Barbara, CA USA Tue 07/26/2011
wallet stolen in Paris
My husband's wallet was stolen at the ticket booth for the Funicular at Sacre-Couer. We went to the closest Police station to report it. We hoped that the thief would take only the money and discard the wallet. At the police staion we waited an hour, none of the police spoke English, After completing a report, we were told to take the report to the American Embassy. At the Embassy we waited an hour , only to be told that the don't take police reports unless our passports were taken. The Embassy told us we had to take the report to the police station closest to the Embassy. Again noone at the second police station spoke English, however a police officer told us that the police at the first station should have input the report into the Police data base. The police officer data collected the report into the system and then sent us to the Paris Lost & Found in Montparmasse. The Lost & Found is separate from the Police and has it's own data base. I hope others will learn from our experience. Take precautions to avoid theft. However, if your wallet is stolen go to the closest police station, complete a report, make sure the police officer inputs the data into the police system, and then go to the Paris Lost and Found. Don't waste time at the Embassy unless your passport is stolen. Also, be alert to small children. The police told us that most wallets stolen in Monmarte are taken by little girls under 10. Sometimes they work in small groups and sometimes alone. They watch the ticket booth to see where tourists put our wallets after we purchase the tickets. When police catch them they have no id and the police cannot hold them because of their age. We had purchased travel insurance and the insurance company was very helpful in notifying credit card companies.
Boston, MA USA Thu 07/21/2011
Purchase your credit card company's identity theft protection and give them all your info; have copies of their phone number everywhere!
Columbia, MD USA Wed 06/29/2011
I experienced EXACTLY the same pickpocket scam as Jeff Anderson did at the Rome train station. Mine happened in 2003, so it is still going on. Several children surrounded me as I was getting on the train and got into a tug of war with them over my suitcase. Suddenly, I smelled this overwhelming odor of body odor. I looked over my back and one of them was digging in my backpack. I grabbed her and shook her and yelled at her and then let her go and she ran. She did not get anything only because there was nothing of interest to her in my backpack. That morning, for some reason, I had put my camera in a zip pocket in my jacket, otherwise, it would have been gone. She didn't want my lunch or tour book and that was all that was in my backpack.
WI USA Thu 06/16/2011
Ripped off in London pub
We were eating in a pub in London near Paddington Station. The pub was crowded with tourists. My wife made the mistake of hanging her bag on the chair, and when we got up to leave, it was gone! We are seasoned travelers and this is the first time anything like this has happened to us. There was only about ?20 in it (thank goodness for the money belt); but her credit and debit cards, driver's license, and the keys to the luggage were in it. We reported the incident to the pub and to the police, and both said that it was a frequent occurrence. I had to cancel the credit cards and was left with one source of money, my debit card (which made me very uncomfortable even though the debit card was the intended primary source of cash). Since it was early in the vacation, I had my bank send new cards to the hotel where we were staying. My wife had to buy a new bag and new TSA locks for the luggage, and get her license replaced once we got home. The hotel/British Telecom ripped us off even more than the thief, as the calls to the bank cost ?55! I hate to think what would have happened if I didn't speak the language.
ALWAYS carry your cash AND cards in a money belt. ALWAYS contact your bank BEFORE the trip and tell them where you will be. And ALWAYS be conscious of where your bag is!
West Islip, NY USA Sun 06/12/2011
Rome Pickpocket Scam
I feel like such a fool, having been to Europe 7 times before and knowing about the gypsy routines at train stations. But alas-today I was a victim. Here is how the latest and greatest pickpocket scheme works:
We were at the Roma Termini station this afternoon, ready to take the Leonardo Express train out to the airport. The binario was announced at the very last minute, so lots of passengers rushed from the main terminal out to track 26 where the train was departing.
When we arrived, the first few cars we passed had people hanging out the doorways, attempting to "help" passengers with their luggage onto the train. Seeing as I thought we were running late, I boarded one of the traincars with the "help" of one of the friendly pickpockets (a middle aged man urging people to get on the train quickly or risk missing it). With him were about 6 kids of different ages, trying to create an athmosphere of helter skelter on the train car. One of the kids wouldn't let go of my bag, so as I wrestled it from her hands, "papa" or his young pals got my wallet from my pocket.
Just before the train left the station, the pickpocket team got off the train-and that's when I suspected my wallet and its contents may not be joining me on my trip back home tomorrow. Sure enough, I was correct.
Luckily I've learned enough through Rick et al to carry a moneybelt but I still lost a credit card and about 60 euros in cash.
So instead of spending my last day in Rome relaxing, I've been on the phone with the bank getting my credit card invalidated and cursing these train station hooligans.
Next time I come over here, I'll pack my brain and remember MONEYBELT MONEYBELT MONEYBELT (FOR EVERYTHING).
Tigard, OR USA Sat 06/04/2011
In Amsterdam whilst having a nightcap in the bar of the good hotel my husband and I were staying in, my bag was stolen from between my feet (my feet were touching it. The waitress did it and this is how. They all carried large trays, when she first came over she dropped a pen on the floor next to my chair (to see where the bag was) when she returned with the drinks after she served them she dropped the tray (taking the bag and using the tray as cover). Ten seconds later I realised the bag had gone. She passed it to an accomplice sitting near to the door. She confessed all to the police who told me it wasn't an unusual scam. I lost a nice bag, credit cards, cash, house keys, diary etc had the hassle of going to the police station. So what did I learn? Keep hold of your bag at all times, don't have anything in it you don't need on that trip, don't take an expensive bag on vacation, and don't make the mistake of dropping your guard because you feel relaxed back at the hotel!
Manchester, UK Thu 05/12/2011
Lost most in Japan!
Several years ago, when traveling to Japan, my luggage was lost. I was one of those few people whose luggage was never found! I am an overweight American (not terribly overweight) and did not want to spend days looking for clothes to replace what I had lost. By the end of the second day, I knew my luggage was gone, and if it was recovered, it would not catch me as we traveled through Japan. It made me sad and stressed at first, but then I said to myself I had better make the best of it because I could not let it ruin my trip. I wore sandals on the plane and within a day or two, I had blisters, so decided I needed to get shoes. My feet were bigger than the largest Japanese shoes, but I bought the biggest anyway because they felt good. Two days later, new blisters! I should have just gone to the men's department and bought walking shoes there at first. Likewise with shorts and tees. I should have just gone to the men's department. Did not think of it until later. Likewise with personal care products. I had a curly perm and my hair was frizzy until I went looking for mousse. Everything was labeled in conji so it was a challenge, but I looked at the shape of containers and nozzles and figured out what the products were. Mostly I just washed my clothes out every night. I was always thankful when we stayed in a hotel with a machine and I did not have to do it by hand! Even so, the pictures of my 3 weeks in Japan looked like a whirlwind trip because I was wearing the same thing in every picture! Biggest lesson I learned is how little I can get by on. The experience created some humerous memories, too. I have great stories because of it. Just have to relax and not get uptight and just roll with it.
WI USA Fri 04/15/2011
I have had my pocket picked in almost every country in Europe. I have learned to only leave in my pocket what I can afford to lose. I wear a money belt, tucked inside my underwear and have my blouse tucked in. The pickpocketing then becomes just an interesting cultural experience. For many years, I had a second safety measure I took. I always traveled with $100 under the lining of each shoe. I figured $200 in American money could get me out of most trouble I would encounter anywhere in the world. I no longer leave the money in my shoes. Instead, I sewed flannel pockets to the inside of the side of my bra. The pocket is big enough to hold an extra debit card and an extra credit card as well as my $200. I still carry the money belt, but after a machine ate my card in Thailand one Sunday morning, I have since carried a second credit and debit card.
WI USA Fri 04/15/2011
Possible reason for ATM rejection
Some ATM cards have fairly low limits for how much you can withdraw per day, and they count a day as midnight to midnight *in your home area.* If the ATM suddenly refuses your card, it may be that your bank back home "thinks" it's still the same day. This has happened to me while traveling internationally. The only solution is to wait till it's after midnight in your home time zone.
Minneapolis, MN USA Thu 03/24/2011
Wedding diamond lost...and found
While in Quebec City a few summers back, my wife and I were walking back to our hotel in the late afternoon after a day in the Old City. Reaching for her hand as we walked, I noticed that the diamond of her engagement ring was gone from the ring. The last she had noticed it was an hour earlier while washing her hands, but we had walked at least a mile since then, from Lower Town to Upper and through the grand hotel Chateau Frontenac, which we had just left. Not quite a needle in haystack, but....
I was ready to move on, sure that a hunt would be futile (I was thinking about our insurance already), but my wife wanted to check the hotel. I went around the revolving door twice, thinking she may have knocked her hand on the door while leaving. Nothing on the floor, though, until I stepped out of the door into the lobby and there it was, lying on the edge of the doormat! A whole range of emotions, in just 4-5 minutes. A nice bounce back, to say the least!
Bronx, NY USA Mon 03/14/2011
Be prepared and have some easy-to-set-up precautions in place
In case you *do* miss everything, the following preventive measures should help: - have scanned copies of passport and other ID docs in your email account so that you can easily access it, print a copy and have some precarious ID as opposed to have nothing. It helps A LOT to get travel documents back from an US Embassy/Consulate. - if you have more than one credit card, leave one at home and scan a copy: you will be able to - for instance - buy a ticket online without risking cancellation because of lost/theft - buy a call-card and - voilą - scan it. In case you are without any money, you can access Internet and use the numbers/code in the card to call for help - as for emergency money, have a friend or relative available to send you money via Western Union. It arrives within 15-30 minutes, and could help immensely should you need to buy emergency clothing, pay for accommodation etc. . As to avoid losing everything, I second to suggestions already given here but I do stress the importance of the money belt where you will keep "critical" documents, one credit card and one or two high denomination banknotes.
Netherlands Mon 03/07/2011
US EMbassy as emergency resource
If you are in a big enough city to have a US Embassy, or even in a country with a US Embassy, contact the embassy. They will have a 24 hour manned desk and 24 hour telephone number and have assigned "duty officers" whose congressional mandate is to help you - the American tourist in trouble abroad. (I know, my husband gets those midnight phone calls as "duty officer."
Colorado springs, C) USA Sat 02/26/2011
Lost and found
On our first trip to Italy I was VERY pregnant with our first child. In November and dressing in layers, I was sure that leaving the cab at siesta time I had my purse on one shoulder and my camera on the other, under a cape. Took off cape and objects all at one time, had a long siesta, and got ready to go out to dinner, only to find in the cape the camera bag and the camera. Purse was nowhere to be found! It contained our cash, my passport and my military ID, all necessary to get back to our base in Germany. I had a second passport at our home, and my husband was carrying enough cash to get to Germany and bring the passport back, and the landlords at our inn were happy to let me stay with them. We went to dinner and returned to a full lobby of chatting new Italian friends and many, many children, and OUR TAXI DRIVER! Seems he had a siesta the same time we did, and going out to his cab, found my bag in the floor. It wasn't hard to remember where he had dropped a blonde, pregnant American, and he and his family had come to return it. Of course, everything was intact and tips flew all around! Viva Italia! I will love Italy and the Italian people forever!
Katy, Tx USA Fri 02/18/2011
We were on a tour in Costa Rica and one of our fellow tourists lost all her luggage and was without anything from home for the whole trip except what she was wearing. She was a trouper; never complaining. Others of her size offered her clothing, and she just picked things up along the way on the tour. It wasn't what she would have chosen, but she did great and didn't let it spoil her trip.
Cape Canaveral,, FL USA Fri 02/04/2011
Safe Travel Tips
We've been fortunate to "lose" a few thing,s but not everything, but we take lots of precautions. 1. Use a cheap carabiner to clip your bag to a chair, the overhead luggage rack, etc. Also clip the zippers on your luggage together so they can't be easily opened. 2. I carry one credit card (i.e. AmEx), my wife carries a different brand (i.e. Visa) so if we have to cancel one we still have one that works. 3. Tell your credit card company you are traveling in Europe to avoid having the security department cancel the card for suspicion it was stolen. This can be terribly difficult to resolve while you are traveling, and burns valuable time. 4. Put your itinerary in every piece of your luggage. 5. Take photos of your luggage and scan your passports then email them to yourself and at least one family member or friend. 6. Ask the hotel for advice on safe routes to walk or bus. 7. Use the hotel safe for your passport and spare cash.
J Scott Miller
Spokane, WA USA Sat 01/29/2011