You’re finally getting to take that trip abroad. As you walk the street of Sidney, Australia, with your spouse, a trip that you decided on to celebrate your anniversary, you’re both amazed at how different the stores are in this bustling city. Unfortunately, your wide-eyed sense of awe and wonder doesn’t go unnoticed and your Hawaiian shirt and camera immediately notify everyone around you that you’re a tourist. In the busy mall, someone bumps into you apologizes profusely and then disappears into the crowd.
You think nothing of it—after all, in a busy place, people bump into each other all the time. However, at dinner, when you reach for your wallet to pay for the excellent meat pies and pasties you’ve both enjoyed, you find your wallet has gone. With a sinking feeling, you realize that you have no more money.
What do you do?
Here are five steps you can take if something like this happens when you’re traveling in another country.
- Get some money fast.
While you may have paid for your plane ticket and your hotel reservation in advance, you still need money for travel, for food, and for many other incidental expenses—so get someone back home to send money online. This will quell your feelings of dread and panic because you’ll have the money quickly.
- Consider alternative scenarios.
What if you weren’t a victim of pickpocketing? What if you merely misplaced your wallet? Although it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that since someone bumped into you at the mall and you don’t have your wallet anymore that you’re a victim of theft; however, you could be wrong. You may simply have left your wallet in another pair of pants and the stranger bumping into you was a mere coincidence. Although it might seem like a long shot, search through your stuff to make sure that you actually lost your wallet.
- Cancel your cards.
If you had credit cards, you want to get those canceled quickly. Call your bank and/or your credit card company. The sooner you report it, the better, as this will prevent the identity thief from making any fraudulent charges in your name. Your financial institutions will also know that you will need new cards and will ensure that you can access your funds as soon as possible.
- Visit the local embassy
The local embassy will help you in any way they can—from reaching emergency contacts to directing you to the police station to file a report. If you also lost your travel documents, they can help you with temporary documents.
- Find the nearest police station.
Although you might feel that it’s unlikely that reporting the loss of your wallet is going to do much good, there are two reasons why you should still file a police report. The first is that your wallet or your paperwork might show up in an unexpected way. For instance, the thief might just take the money, toss your wallet, and somebody who finds it turns it into the police station. The second reason is that you now have official proof, documented proof that can be used when you make an insurance claim.
Safety Measures When Traveling Abroad
Every city in the world has its criminal elements, so the first thing you should do when traveling in an unfamiliar city is not to look like a tourist. You immediately mark yourself out as someone who is vulnerable.
Other things you should never do include:
1. Understand the different neighborhoods. You need to know your surroundings.
2. Avoid creating a predictable pattern of behavior. If someone knows when you leave your hotel room, when you return, where you go for lunch, etc, they can figure out how to plan an ambush or steal from your room.
3. Trust your guts. If someone says something that sounds suspicious or you go to a place that gives you an uneasy feeling don’t squash these primal instincts. You may have more intuition than you give yourself credit for.
4. Avoid getting distracted. If you have your cell phone with you, it’s easy to get distracted by a game of Tetris while you’re waiting for a bus or train. Stay alert and aware.
In closing, be careful when you travel abroad, including taking photocopies with you of your driver’s license, identity cards, and other important information, as well as use identity protection services.
Remember, never travel without travel insurance! And never overpay for travel insurance!
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