I got robbed and I lost all my cards and emergency stashes… I’m COMPLETELY stranded!

prevention:

  • This should NEVER happen to anyone. Ever. I don’t want to call you an idiot if this happened to you but…. I guess I just did. The only way for me to take that label back is if you were traveling and got held up at gun point and made to hand over everything you owned and were left naked on the side of the road.
  • Firstly DO NOT keep all of your cards together, and DO NOT keep your pristine bill emergency collection in the same place.
  • Keep your bills in something that looks harmless and keep this at the bottom of a bag you keep locked up in your hostel at all times and only on you to travel.
  • Keep a wallet with one valid card, some cash, and expired or canceled cards on your person for daily use.
  • Keep only what you think you will need for that outing in your wallet, refill every time you come back to your pack. Depending on where you are, the hostel safe might be safer than your person or vice-versa, so make the call and keep the rest of your cards either somewhere else on your person or in your day pack, and not together, or safely locked back at your lodging. If you keep it on your person make sure it’s pick-pocket proof. If it’s locked in your room, make sure you’ve got a good lock.
  • The idea here is to be redundant and have decoys. I’d tell you exactly how I do it, but then if we all did the same we’d all know where to look wouldn’t we… so get creative and keep your secrets to yourself.
  • Keep your Passport separate from everything else, in its own secret location.

solution:

  • Find a kind soul to bail you out. If this happens to you, you probably don’t have a phone to call home for help, or even clothes to keep you warm, or a passport to go home with so, good luck to you. You best bet is probably to walk or hitchhike to your closest embassy after having covered yourself up with some kind of makeshift garment.Ok, Ok… I’m not being very nice.
  • If you really find yourself with no money and no way to take more out, first of all you need to immediately call to cancel all of your cards and immediately have more cards rushed to you no matter where you are.
  • Explain the situation to a local hotel or hostel and ask them if you can pay at the end of your stay, hostels might even allow for a work-exchange option. Do this until you find one that says yes, or try couchsurfing.
  • Your fellow travellers could be of some help, but don’t be offended if they are not. Most travellers have a tight budget and not all of them will believe your story. A few bucks here and there will help you get by for sure. If you busk, now’s a good time to work overtime.
  • If you lost your passport as well, go to the nearest embassy, as soon as humanly possible, yours if it exists, but others might be able to help and might be worth trying if they are closer.
  1. Lost Bank Card
  2. Out Of Budget
  3. Robbed and Broke
  4. Post Trip Credit Card Debt
  5. Machine Ate My Card

17 comments

  1. Oh boy.. I can’t understand people who travel on credit. I know at least a couple of backpackers who first spend on travel and then go to work for several months to pay the bill. Wouldn’t it make more sense to do it the other way around? I’d enjoy my travels way more knowing I’m using my hard earn money, without having to worry about what comes up next!..
    Good tips! :)
    Zara @ Backpack ME recently posted…Top 13 Travel Experiences of 2013My Profile

    1. Right there with you Zara! But to each their own. It’s hard for some people to save up sometimes, and I can understand how the motivation of paying off debt could get one to buckle down more effectively than the more abstract goal of saving.

  2. Learned this lesson while traveling with a student group. The bank ATM ate a student’s Visa card. It was Sunday and we were just visiting for the day.
    Lesson 1: If possible, only use the bank ATM while the bank is open.
    Lesson 2: If you can locate a commercial bank you can draw money off your Visa card without using the machine.
    Lesson 3: On short trips I overpay my Visa before leaving and use that card as a Debit card while away.

      1. Hello Jade,
        Thanks for the comment.
        We were in Siena on a Sunday but it was close to the end of the trip so I just loaned money to the student. Upsetting, but not a disaster. Nonetheless it was a lesson regarding weekend travel that was never forgotten.
        I’m a high school teacher in Nova Scotia. Our European trip is intended to introduce students to the roots of our culture (London, Paris, Florence and Rome) and to simply give them the confidence to travel independently. Many do.
        thanks~John
        On Twitter @papapigeon (Our tours are called Pigeon Tours)

    1. Traveler’s cheques, does anyone even use those anymore?!!?

      Having credits cards is great, if you know how to use them well, they definitely can work to your advantage, with points and everything. Unfortunately most people slack in the department and end up paying more in interest than they get back in points.

      I’ve been knows to be guilty of this!

      I’m glad you’re on your game!
      JadeAdele recently posted…Planning a Road Trip in the US, your ULTIMATE resource guideMy Profile

  3. This post was very useful! I spend last October in Argentina and in my last week I was in Ushuaia. I didn´t have much money with me but I had my credit card, so I wasn´t that worried… however, once I checked-in in the hostel I was staying they only accepted ‘fresh money’. As a result, I got only 150 pesos (+- 10 euros) for 3 days, so I went to get money from the ATM. It was really hard because apparently in Ushuaia sometimes ATM don´t have money and my card was not accepted in many machines… only on the second day and after 12 AMTs I made it!!!! Now I know that next time I should take two different credit cards… :)
    PedroL
    PedroL recently posted…window #608My Profile

  4. Thank you for the very informative article Jade!
    If I may suggest one rather important point to highlight to your readers would be the following. Be careful of what some travellers may at first hand consider to be “relatively” safe storage options. For example, luggage with regular zippers are not at all safe! These can be easily opened with something as simple as a ballpoint pen and resealed without ones knowledge
    If available I would suggest enquiring with your hotel about the availability of safes in rooms and even safes located at the reception desk. Even if such safes are available, remember that to avoid problems with guests loosing their access code or safe keys, the hotel security or management will typically have spare keys securely locked away. Just to be extra safe ensure that you keep a small, light-weight, tamperproof, lockable container or bag that can be placed inside such a hotel safe. It doesn’t have to be heavy-duty, it only has to serve as a deterrent. ;-)
    I trust the above adds value to you and your readers :-)
    Chris

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