Losing everything...and bouncing back
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.
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Loosing a wallet --email info to yoursef
Before leaving home we make copies of our passport, drivers license, and the credit cards we were carrying including our debit card both sides and email them to ourselves. We have all the phone numbers and account numbers for everything .
This came in very handy on our last trip to Barcelona where my husband managed to loose a small wallet from his front slacks pocket. We had no idea when it happened. We had only gone out for a little while. These guys were good. It only contained his debit card and about 20Euros and his drivers license. We were able to get all our info from our laptop and make the necessary calls. (calling a bank collect is not as easy as it looks by the way). It took us awhile. We got the card shut down. Fortunately we had my debit card for making withdrawls while traveling. His main wallet with credit cards was in the safe at the hotel. We do not have to worry about loosing a copy of all our info in a suitcase and we can access it anywhere.
PORTLAND, Oregon USA 06/14/2013
I had my wallet pick-pocketed on my second day in Rome. I lost about 120 Euro, a debit card, two credit cards, my driver's license and my Ontario Health Card. Most of my cash and my passport were in the velcro pockets of my Tilley pants. My wife had a debit card and a credit card on the same accounts as mine.
Before leaving I made a record of all my credit and debit card numbers and the numbers of the loss reporting numbers of the banks that issued them. I also had colour photocopies of our passports and driver's licenses. It took about two hours to call the banks and report the stolen cards and have them transfer some extra money into our joint account for which my wife had the other card. I had my son go onto my computer and E-mail me the PDF of the driver's licenses. I obtained a colour printout of the file the next morning.
1. Keep a list of your card numbers and bank phone numbers.
2. Keep copies of driver's licenses and passports.
3. If traveling with a significant other, make sure he/she has a second card for the account with a different card number.
4. If possible get cards with a PIN chip. No charges were made on my stolen cards.
5. Respect the skills of the pickpockets in Italy; they are highly skilled pros.
6. Guys, don't assume that just because you keep your wallet in your front pocket, that you will be able to feel a hand other than yours entering your pocket.
Toronto, ON USA 06/08/2013
Theft from a vehicle
If you are using a vehicle make sure your suitcases are well hidden. Unfortunately when my family traveled we made the big mistake of taking 2 suitcases and one carry on for each of us. That was for four adults. We rented a van in Denmark, which of course was much smaller than what we have in Canada, even if it says it seats seven. After a week of lugging all the suitcases up to the hostel rooms we thought we could just leave the suitcases in the vehicle and take up only what we needed for the night. It was a very quiet area we were in. Four big suitcases, one carry on and the cell phone supplied by the rental company was stolen after they smashed the windows. We did not know until the hostel owners were contacted by the police the next morning. They found our luggage, after the thieves broke into an ice cream store with an alarm, on the beach, open in the rain with only my son's t-shirts, runners, shorts, the gifts we were taking to our relatives wrapped in the husbands underwear and socks, and the power plug converters missing.
The rental company arranged to have a local garage come pick up the van and replace the broken windows. He also drove us to the police station to pick up the luggage. The hostel gave us tokens to use their washing machine and dryer for all our clothes. Every thing was done quickly with a lot of apologizes that something like this had happened in their town. The rental company also arranged to have us get another cell phone. We paid no deductible or additional money. Always have name tags on and in your luggage. The police just used our name tag to contact the accommodations in the area. We did not let this spoil the rest of the trip, but really hated all that luggage after a while. We went by train to Switzerland and had to stand and guard the suitcases by the train doors as there wasn't any other place to store all of the them.
Winnipeg, MB Canada 06/06/2013
We were in Paris couple weeks ago. We were taking the Metro to dinner one night. As the train approached, we noted that the car was extremely crowded. We immediately went into "pickpocket alert mode". We had our moneybelts on, our backpacks zippers were pinned with safety pins, as well as the case to my iPhone. I used the backpack to tightly cover my front pocket where my day money and metro tickets were located. My wife did the same. However, it was so crowded that my wife had to hang onto my belt. After we got off the train, we discovered that someone had stolen her watch (inconvenient, but was 10 year old Casio) and they had stolen the subway map from my back-pocket. They were probably hoping that it was cash. So in future, unless it is rush hour, if the car is super crowded, either wait for the next train, or try to move to less crowded car. Luckily our precautions kept us from losing anything of significant value.
Walnut Creek, CA USA 05/26/2013
Somehow I lost a small purse in Paris, whether dropped or stolen. It had no credit cards or serious money but some personal info. I changed passwords for email accounts and was able to order a replacement Starbucks card. Thief got about 10 Eu and misc. cards such as AAA and Starbucks card.
Napa, CA USA 05/24/2013
Pickpocketed in Beijing
I was pickpocketed in Beijing. I lost my passport, all my cash ($500 yikes!)except for about $15, credit cards and Traveler's checks. I wasted 2-3 solid days resolving the situation. I filed a police report then went to a Hyatt Hotel to get some help with phone calls to the credit card companies and to cancel the cards and get new ones and to AMEX for the voiding and replacement of travelers checks. Then I went to the US Embassy to replace my passport. They gave me a temp passport and helped just a little with getting me squared away. They called the US for me. My friend wired me money to tide me over. You can't imagine how awful I felt because I knew if I was more careful it wouldn't have happened. However, I made up my mind to put it behind me and enjoy the rest of the trip, which I did. If it happened in Europe, things might have been a tad easier. My advice is to enlist the help of a concierge or executive club at an American operated hotel. Desperation can evoke a lot of sympathy! Always look on the bright side that you/I were not hurt and its only a little wasted time and money.
NYC, USA 03/24/2013
Paper clip grip
I use a paper-clip to fasten the ends of the zippers of my backpack to each other. It's not full-proof, just a deterrent to thieves (not as easy of a target) but still easy for me to get in and out of
kelso, wa USA 02/28/2013
Snatching a Bag
There has to be more details. There had to be a distraction. Something that pulled everyone's attention away from the area. Just don't get a bag from four people especially in first class.
We always clip a bag strap around one of the ribs of the overhead rack just to prevent a snatch and run but we are always sitting in second class where there are more people.
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO USA 02/14/2013
When traveling by train between Amsterdam and Brugge we had a bag taken from right over our heads. There were four of us sitting opposite each other with only 4 backpacks right over our heads. The train was not crowded, we were sitting in first class. The bag was stolen leaving my husband with only the valuables he had put in his waiste wallet. This included passport, credit and debit cards and cash. Thankfully, the night before as we were discussing what we had in our waiste wallets, my brother- in -law suggested he add his prescriptions in there. He did and at least our trip didn't turn out a disaster. It would have meant going home. When we got to our B&B the proprietor said that had happened to he and his wife in that same area on the train. Beware! they are very good. This was our fourth trip over and we had not had any problems before.
Boise, ID USA 02/06/2013
Theft with happy ending
I have been to Paris three times previously and had no problems with thieves but this past summer my luck ended. I was exiting the Metro to enter the underground entrance to the Louvre when a woman was trying to get my attention. She finally did and pointed to my backpack which had both pockets unzipped. I almost collapsed realizing that my wallet had been stolen with my credit card, debit card, driver's license and money.
As it turned out, the woman vying for my attention was an undercover policeman. She motioned me to a quieter spot where several other undercover cops had the perpetrators, young women from Eastern Europe. My wallet and Carte Navigo were recovered. All I had to do was fill out a police report. Unfortunately these girls could only be held for 27 hours.
Lesson learned. I will always carry my important belongings in a money belt.
Cumming, Georgi USA 01/13/2013
Prep for the Worst
I have always done this for every trip: I take an old LLBean (for me, for you, whatever you like; I just happen to have this already) backpack, and in it I put a copy of my passport, driver's license, itinerary, notes that I print out, plane tickets, rail pass, health insurance card, traveler's insurance card, AAA card and credit card number. To this I add 1 pair black stretch pants, 1 black t shirt, 1 pair of socks, 1 pair of underwear/bra, a few safety pins, 2 zip ties, NewSkin, a small roll of duct tape, bandaids, neosporin, deoderant, two ziploc quart size bags, an old copy of ETBD, a couple of hair barrettes. Cash money ($400), and enough money ($150) to have this bag overnighted to me. I have the address of each main post office in the bag in case my family needs it. I know no matter where I am, my family can have this overnighted to me through UPS and I can be back on my way. Cost for this? Nothing, since I'm just using stuff I already have. Nice little insurance policy.
Winder, GA USA 12/28/2012
United has lost our luggage and is doing nothing about it
We are living this right now! United lost our bags somewhere between Dallas and Istanbul. They show no interest in finding them for us.
Our two tips - ask the hotel for help, they may have contacts at the airport. And, contact the President and Chief of Operations at the airline via the investor relations email address (given that you can't find another email address).
Neither has worked, but we are hopeful, wearing the same clothing for the past four days, and headed to the Blue Mosque.
WESTLAKE, TX USA 12/19/2012
We Got Lucky
After several trips with no bad incidents, we finally had one and we did it to ourselves. This is a story with a lovely moral. After our flight into Florence, Italy, we got into a taxi with all our stuff. My husband had his Healthy Back Bag, as usual, stuffed full of our things (two Kindles, an iPad, a camera, prescription meds, his glasses, etc. but no cash or passports). He usually keeps his arm through the bag. Not this time. After checking into our hotel, he realized the bag was gone. After a series of deductions, we realized the bag had been left in the taxi. We had mugged ourselves! The desk staff at the hotel immediately began making phone calls to the cab company. To make a long story short: The taxi driver brought the bag back the next afternoon with EVERYTHING in it. He went off duty after dropping us off and brought it back after coming back to work the next day and finding out where the bag should go. Moral of the story is threefold: (1) Remember the name of the taxi company when you get in one and (2) there are honest, wonderful, helpful people everywhere! (3) And, of course, we got lucky!!
We did fill out a police report in case we didn't get it back and wanted to try to file an insurance claim when we got home. The police in Florence were helpful and friendly.
Americus, GA USA 11/26/2012
Robbed in Paris
I took the metro from CDG Paris to my hotel. I came out of the metro and opened my purse to check the map. Tired from the flight, I did not zip my bag and when I got to my hotel a few minutes later, my wallet with all cash, credit cards and passport was gone. First 1) make a police report. You won't get your stuff back, but you may need the report at other times (as I did); 2) Immediately call and cancel credit cards. I should have had copies of passport and credit cards at home and on me, but I did not. I did have credit card and bank phone numbers in my phone, so I called them. 3) the U.S. Consulate in Paris is apparently one of the worst places to apply for a replacement passport, but I had no choice. I went online and made an appointment as dictated on their website, but that was meaningless: You just get there early and take a number. You have to have $135 for the replacement passport. Suggestion: Have friends in Paris! I was meeting up with a couple of old friends and they loaned me money. Without them I would have been sunk as far as buying food while waiting for my new credit cards. The hotel was understanding, but cafes don't extend credit. And you need ID in order to have money wired to you and I had no ID. Not sure what the Consulate does if you do NOT have money, but they did not give me another option: They wanted cash. Took me 4 hours at Consulate. The thief got a lot of cash. I made the mistake of having everything in one wallet, instead of squirreling things away. And I was tired and distracted. A perfect target. They did use one of my credit cards to charge metro tickets, although my bank reimbursed me. I have used preloaded cards in the past, but those have problems (having holds put on balances, hiccups getting passwords to work). Visa was pretty fast about FedExing me a new card, my bank less fast. American Express may have been able to give me cash, but their customer service person was gone at 5 pm when I got there, and I just didn't go back. So, to sum up, I should have listened to my brother and worn a money belt; I should have had copies of everything; I should have kept my bag zipped and snapped at all times. I took the metro to save money on a cab, and that was a very expensive choice. I still love France and the French and had a great time. Thanks to my friends, Connie and Rob!
Anchorage, AK USA 10/12/2012
Robbery outside Paris
I wish I had read this internet posting from 2011 before I traveled to Paris as I was a victim of this crime:
Airport Taxi A new type of theft has been reported by the local news in recent years. This one is simple yet brazen. Thieves target taxis carrying tourists or well-to-do locals from Charles de Gaulle international Airport into the city.
The traffic to and from the airport is more often than not completely jammed along the A1 highway and thieves lie in wait until the taxi is stationary and break the windows to get to the passengers' bags.
It is a much better idea to put your luggage in the boot of the cab or better (and cheaper) still take the very safe Air France shuttle bus.
All they wanted was my purse in my lap. I couldn't believe it after such a dramatic robbery.
Fortunately I had my real valuables in my money belt. I had just been through airport security about 15 minutes before so unfortunately still had my passport in my purse. As a result, my first sightseeing trip was to the embassy and my first souvenir was a temporary passport. We traveled on for 27 more days in France but I never really bounced back from that first day.
Patrick AFB, FL USA 06/22/2012
Baggage Theft at JFK Airport
Saw this interesting story about theft from bags at JFK airport on NYC's CBS webpage which outlines the magnitude of how this happens daily... http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/03/26/exclusive-the-stunning-jfk-airport-baggage-scandal-200-thefts-per-day/
Cupertino, CA USA 06/05/2012
Great Italian Experience
We just got back from Venice, Florence and Rome. Traveled by plane, train, taxi, bus and boat and did not have ANY issues with theives. I am sure they were there but like others keep saying "stay alert" and they won't bother you. Another thing, the Italians don't care what you wear so wear what is comfortable. I wore nice tennis shoes (yes, they were white) and they saved the trip because my husband was trying to kill me with ten mile walks! I also wore my Rick Steves security belt the whole trip...just in case, but my husband thought it was silly so he didn't and as it turns out the jerk didn't need it...hahaha Again I would like to reinforce the importance of putting your passport, cash and ID in a baggie before putting them in the security pouch because it can get pretty sweaty and ucky. The Italians are gracious hosts and if you are respectful you will have a great time. We did see a few "ugly" Americans sporting their NFL gear and loud vulgar comments about all the statues *sigh*, there always has to be a few bad apples in the basket. Most Italians speak enough English to understand what you want, so be courteous and thank them with a simple but genuine "grazie". You will always get a kind smile and "prego" in return.
Seattle, WA USA 05/22/2012
lifted in Barcelona
In Barcelona-standing on the steps waiting to get into a Cathedral, I stupidly had my little camera in the open, outside pocket of my day purse (which was slung across my body). I had my hand through the strap, resting on the purse and I felt a slight touch from someone. I looked down, and the camera was gone...looked up and saw a little old lady next to me with a scarf wrapped around her hand and wrist. I said to her "give me back my camera!" and she did...can you believe it? Then we announced to everyone on the steps that she'd picked the camera! She left, grumbling under her breath :-) Who knows how many people would have lost belongings in the church.
Clermont, FL USA 05/21/2012
Don't give up--all may not be lost!
After reading a number of the posts about lost stuff, I thought adding my story might give others a useful tip, particularly if your stuff is misplaced or lost when you're on the road. The tip: even if you think something you left behind is "undoubtedly" in the hands of someone else, never to be back in your own, keep looking. Several years ago my girlfriend, our friend and I were in Paris, moving our luggage and ourselves through the Metro system, with a few transfers to negotiate. In our haste to make one transfer, we inadvertently left a suitcase[INVALID]containing several valuable/important items, which was rather unwise, of course[INVALID]on the train we were leaving. Once we realized our oversight, with the train long gone, the owner of the bag[INVALID]after regaining consciousness (jk!)[INVALID]said that we absolutely had to get the bag back. I doubted that we ever would, but agreed that we had to try our hardest. Lo and behold, we did get it back, after finding the "station master" and managing to explain to him (in poor French and with lots of gestures) our situation. Turned out that he was able to contact the conductor of the train we had been on, who had been given the bag by another passenger. We rode to another station, and found the conductor[INVALID]rolling the bag by his side, with all of the precious cargo untouched. One moral of this "Metro Miracle" story: Do try, keep looking, even when you think the odds are stacked against you. Honest, and helpful, people are everywhere[INVALID]even riding subway trains in major cities. Other (obvious) morals: each person should always keep track of his/her own luggage; if you (unwisely) are traveling with items you must not lose, at least keep them on your body, ideally in a money belt, as Mr. Rick recommends.
Chicago, IL USA 05/02/2012
We were part of an international Hot Air Ballooning event in Slovakia. We traveled in our vehicles with balloons attached in trailers. At one stop we left several vehicles in a guarded parking lot and carpooled to a resturaunt 9 miles away. Upon returning along the country road we saw a police car just parked on the shoulder doing nothing. (later to find out he was the lookout) When we entered the parking lot another police car was exiting the lot. WE then saw our vehicle had the windows smashed in and all our luggage stolen including flight equipment. Upon calling the police immediately it took 2 hours for them to show up. We know it was the police that did the theft but after filing a formal report we could not do anything. This was in the second largest city in the country. Lessons learned. . #1 keep credit cards in seperate names (no joint accounts. (mine were stolen, not my husband's) #2 Even making copies of your documents will not help you. because the theft of those copies caused our American Security clearance to be compromised. FBI suggested we don't enter that country again because we don't know what people may have done in our name. #3 American's travel with WAY TOO MUCH STUFF, just what was in my luggage was the equivalent of a year's salary once sold on Black Market. #4 Your home owner's insurance will pay for stolen luggage.
Portland, OR USA 04/23/2012
Theft in Rome
I lost everything in Rome metro line A. Typical scam, a young girl blocks your entry to the train and her pals take your wallet. The Metro police keep referring you to other police. Eventually, I was at the police office in the train station. There were thirteen others in the office who had everything stolen. The police would not even talk to us. We waited over an hour and no one was even spoken to and no reports made. The police were having their lunch and suggested that we all come back after 2 pm. Several of us left after an interminably long time. I have decided there are other countries to visit and will not return to Rome. I spent the last day trying to freeze my credit and cancel credit cards. The Italian police are of no help whatsoever. They could care less about you and your safety.
Ventura, CA USA 03/25/2012
Theft in Hotel Un Patio en Santa Cruz
My husband and I stayed at Hotel Un Patio en Santa Cruz for two nights (March 1-3). Intially we had to change rooms twice because of a sewer and paint smell. When we finally settled into a third room, we placed our valuables in the room`s safe.
On March 2nd, in the evening, after paying our bill we discovered that 600 USD was missing from the locked safe. We reported it to the police immediately. The personnel on duty stated it was "impossible" and suggested to the police that we were lying. The police did not begin their investigation until Monday, 2 days after the theft. The manager/owner did not reply to my email until 2 days after I wrote him, 4 days after the theft, but assumes no responsibility for our losses and has since refuse to reply to questions regarding the investigation. When I stated I had a duty to warn other travelers of the safety issues at his hotel, he wrote, "I just warn you not to enter in defamation, you will lose. I mean it."
We are on vacation and would not want anyone to experience what we had to. Not only was $600 stolen from us from a "secure" safe in a reputable hotel, but the callusness and unprofessionalism of the hotel, its owner and the police is disheartening. I am sure the owner will respond with a rebuttle to my posting, but if anyone has further questions I am happy to share the email exchange I mentioned, the police report and more details of the events. Going to this hotel was the worse mistake we made.
Brooklyn, NY USA 03/20/2012
stolen suitcase in Hotel Paris- Rome
I am writing regarding my stolen suitcase from Hotel Paris in Rome, Italy. I am a research assistant in Turkey and i was in Italy for a course provided by European Space Agency (ESA) for a week. I stayed in Hotel Paris and I left my suitcase in the safe room of Hotel Paris. This was witnessed by my British colleque who is working at Goethe Institute/Frankfurt. When i come back to hotel after two hours to pick up my suitcase, it was stolen. I made an inquiry to hotel and police however none of them paid any attention, particularly the hotel personnel was very rude and unhelpful. My suitcase was under the responsibility of the hotel. The safe room is inside the hotel and controlled by hotel personnel (Hotel personnel name is Angelo). I assumed the hotel was reliable but not. Never go to this unsecure Hotel Paris in Rome...
Adana, Turkey 02/16/2012
Rome -pick pockets
Rick was right as usual. I took bus #64 which he calls "the pick pocket special" at the Rome Train station. The bus was very crowded and somehow a thief took my change purse from my pocket, with about $8 worth of bus tickets and a few Euro. My valuables were safe in my money belt. Thanks Rick.
Fort Bragg, CA USA 02/10/2012
Losing everything planning
I've learned to carry basics in my carry on, after 3 days in Paris with just what I had on, and to reserve a room in Atlanta just in case the flight to Atlanta misses the transatlantic leg...2008 and thousands of people stuck in Atlanta all night ! On this trip I'm renting from Europcar, for Normandy. After reading a LOT on car rental, I'm going with the all coverage policy available from American Express.
Austin, Texas USA 02/08/2012
For my recent tip to Rome, Florence, Venice and Paris, I purchased a small purse (measures about 8" by 9") from PacSafe. Purse and strap are steel-reinforced. I wore this bag cross-body and kept one credit card, a small amount of cash, my camera and my cellphone in it. Everything that I would not be using on a daily basis (passport, more cash, debit card and back-up credit cards) went into my money belt. I felt PERFECTLY safe at all times, even in crowded metro stations. I'd recommend this system to everyone.
Quilcene, WA USA 01/20/2012
take a taxi instead of putting your stuff under the bus!
Last Sunday I took the shuttle bus from Brussels MIDI to the Charleroi airport (bus service is brusselscityshuttle). It is one of the busses with no storage inside so you have to put your luggage INCLUDING backpacks under the bus. BAD IDEA. My guard was down a bit was I was tired, it was raining, and I figured it was a low risk thing. WRONG. When I got to the Charleroi airport the backpack was missing (along with various items that are a bit hard to replace!!). I was wearing my moneybelt as a good Rick Steves follower should - so except for filling out forms at the police office and experiencing the psychic shock of my first theft - the trip wasn't a disaster. But from now on - if I have a backpack withanything valuable in it - I will take a cab or a train someplace where I can keep an eye on things - or better yet just leave the backpack at home (and just use a little bitty day pack). Be careful out there - seems like the level of theft in Europe at least is on the rise!
Corvallis, Oregon USA 01/15/2012
Scan and email
We scan our passports, credit cards with telephone numbers and email the document to oursleves. This way even if everything is stolen/lost we can get to the internet, access our email and print copies of everything.
Tacoma, WA USA 01/08/2012