The red button won’t solve your problems
You’re in another country, enjoying the sights, the people, and everything new and exciting you’ve been dying to try for years.
Then you realize your passport is missing. Or worse, you get robbed and have your money, identification (including your passport), and personal belongings stolen.
And you don’t have any photocopies…
This is a part of my How To Travel series of blog posts. As time goes on, I’ll have more posts in the series and different series’ to help organize my blog and make it easier for visitors to navigate.
What do you do?
If you’ve been robbed, the most important thing to do is run, don’t walk to your nearest police station and file a police report.
By having a police report, you can file a claim with your insurance company and – if you can pay for it – get a limited-validity emergency passport.
Without any identifying information, a police report is one of your only options to hopefully track your stuff down. Relay every bit of information you can remember about the thief, your location, and potential witnesses. Maybe they’ll catch him, maybe they wont. Right now, that’s the least of your worries.
Your main priority is to recover and protect your identity. Here are the next steps:
1. Contact Your Bank
If you’ve lost your credit and debit cards, you need to put a freeze on them (if you think you’ll get them back), or completely cancel them. You can also replace your cards. Don’t add being broke to your list of things to worry about.
2. Go to Your Embassy or Consulate
If you have no money, you can’t afford a limited-validity emergency passport…
…But the nice folks at the embassy can pull up your information and confirm you’re who you say you are, giving you a stamped photocopy of your passport. It’s possible to get through customs with this, but don’t count on it. Your safest option is to buy a limited-validity emergency passport. For Americans, it costs the same as a normal passport.
Any documentation you get from here can also be used when you make an insurance claim.
3. Get Some Money
With the stamped photocopy of your passport, you can now breathe a little easier. You have proof of identification, which will help you get money from a bank or Western Union.
Head to an internet café or some place with free internet and find a way to contact home or friends (the police will let you use their phone if you’ve lost your laptop or cell.) You owe it to your mother to let her know what happened. Plus, she might send you money because she loves you.
If however, your parents are struggling financially or you still have money in the bank, head to a bank! There you can grab money from your accounts and get closer to sense of normalcy.
4. Back EVERYTHING Up
You should have done this before you left but you made a mistake. It happens, and now you have to face the consequences. Don’t beat yourself up. Everyone screws up from time to time.
After you’ve given yourself a pep talk, get online and find all necessary documents and information you had before it was lost. Put it in your cloud storage (Google and Microsoft give you a small amount of free storage when you open an account), send copies to someone you trust, carry a copy with you, and put copies in each of your bags.
This step will ensure you’re covered (for the most part) if you get struck by lightning twice in one trip.
You can breathe easy again. Relax, have a beer, travel smart, and enjoy the rest of your trip!