You’ve finally made it to India, a place of holy men around every street corner, to finally visit your guru at his ashram, which you’ll do tomorrow. You’re now in transit, sitting in a restaurant in Mumbai, after having just finished a delicious curry and chapati, with your backpack securely tucked between your legs and out of the way under your table.
After you pay your bill, you head out again into the hot afternoon, eager to explore what Mumbai has to offer. However, after visiting a few bazaars, the weather and the heavy meal you ate makes you sleepy—so you head back to your hotel for an afternoon nap. It’s only when you wake up a few hours later that you realize that you forgot your backpack under the table. You rush back to the restaurant, but the staff has changed to the next shift. No one has seen your bag.
With a sinking feeling, you realize that you’ve lost everything—your passport, rupees, credit cards, everything. You won’t be able to take a taxi to go to the ashram tomorrow, and, in fact, you won’t even be able to pay your bill when you checkout from your hotel suite tomorrow.
Since these kinds of misadventures happen to travelers all the time, it’s possible to create a checklist of the steps you need to take to get out of a mess:
1. Get some cash fast.
The first thing you should do is get some money; otherwise a bad situation will only get worse. The hotel may be able to help you place a collect call. Contact family or friends in the US and ask them to transfer money to you.
2. Go to a police station and file a report.
This will help with replacing your credit cards and passport, and it will also prove invaluable if you need to make a claim; perhaps for some expensive items that you had in your bag. You also might get lucky—your bag may not have been stolen, but picked up by someone who will later turn it in at the police station.
3. Start collecting all your personal information.
You’ll need your personal information to replace your passport and credit cards. You may have photocopies of your important documents. If not, use the hotel’s office Internet to go to your online accounts in the cloud to gather all necessary information. If this isn’t possible, you may have to call home again and get someone to gather your information for you.
4. Go in person to the nearest consulate or embassy to replace your passport.
Without a passport, you might not be able to receive wired funds, to check into your next hotel, or even leave the country. When you get to the airport, you will be able to ask your airline to check your reservation because you’ll be armed with your new passport.
5. Make sure that you cancel all your credit cards within two days.
If you have Mastercard, Visa, or American Express, you will be able to contact a global customer assistance center. You’ll need to know all the details associated with your account information. Your bank may be able to deliver a new card to you within a few business days, and some banks are even willing to wire you some money to help you pay your immediate expenses.
6. Replace travel documents and rearrange plans.
You may have to rearrange your travel plans until you get your new passport. If you also lost your travel documents, you may have to replace these as well.
7. Stay on your meds.
If you lost your medications, you may have to call your doctor’s office, who will then fax a copy to you so you can fill your prescription at a local pharmacy.
Although it’s frightening when you lose your money and valuables when you’re traveling overseas, the last thing you want to do is panic. This will not help you at all, and will delay you from taking these 7 action steps.