Linda's Blog—Travel and Art


    Losing Your Wallet While Traveling


    money belt with coffee banner


    Traveling Alone, Part 2:  Losing Your Wallet, Credit Card Companies,  AND PHONES…


    Yes, I lost my wallet, the last day in Amsterdam this past April. Less than 24 hours before I headed home. I loved that wallet. It was turquoise, had a place for everything I needed, was not TOO large, could be used as a clutch purse if necessary. AND it have RFID (Radio Frequency ID) chip blockers . Too bad I didn’t use that cute little strap that came with it…

    Here is the story, what I did, and how it was not SUCH a big deal (note the money belt above).

    I realized that I had lost my wallet when I reached in my purse to make a souvenir purchase outside the train station in Amsterdam. Until then, my trip had been PERFECT. Even the wind, and rain, and sand on the beach of Katwijk aan Zee while I was painting was all part of the perfect experience. That afternoon I had also met a wonderful woman from Oregon, Valerie Estelle Rogers  (check her out our Fb and Instagram), traveling by herself for most of 7 weeks. (AND driving—now THAT’S brave!) We were together as I put my soon-to-be purchases on the counter, reached into my purse, and…realized there was no wallet. I knew it was gone, even as I dug through everything (I was carrying my larger bag, because I knew I would have some purchases). Valerie graciously offered to go through everything for me, since you can be panic blind at a moment like that. No wallet. 

    I say I lost my wallet, because I believe it slipped out of the crook of my elbow, or slipped between my shoulder bag and coat when I THOUGHT I was putting it away. Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    To continue…

    The shop was closing, so I suggested we get a cup of coffee to clear my mind, and so I could start making some phone calls. Valerie kept saying, “I can’t believe how calm you are!” Well really, what else could I do? Panic would accomplish nothing, worry would also only inhibit what I really needed at the moment, which was CLEAR AND CALM THINKING. And a cup of coffee.    

    We went into the station to one of the lovely cafés there, I let her buy me some coffee (to conserve cash), and I took a deep breath. I evaluated the situation, and wrote down what I needed to do.

    The plus side—

        I had money in my money belt

        I had my passport in my money belt

        I had my phone

        I had the phone number of my bank (for my travel and bank cards), and could look up the phone number of Capital One.

        At my hotel I had a photocopy of my passport and driver’s license, so if I HAD lost those…

        I was going home in the morning

        It was about 7 pm local time, 1 pm at home (Thursday).

    The minus side—

        I had all my cards in my wallet (shame on me)

        I had my driver’s license in my wallet (why?)

        I had money in my wallet, about 60 euros (necessary, but could have had a bit less)

    What I did—

    1)  Because it was about 1 pm EDT, I called my bank and talked to the manager who had arranged for my Travel Card, helped me purchase Euros, and taken down my travel info. He immediately closed out ALL my cards. If I had planned on staying longer, they would have rushed cards to me. Instead, I told him to mail them to my house.  The good news is there had been no activity on the cards so far (other than what I had used them for). If If the bank had been closed, I would have gone to the website and reported lost/stolen cards that way. I could have done that anyway, I just wanted to talk to a person I knew. 

    2)  I googled my other credit card company, contacted the lost/theft division, and closed out the card. They also could have rushed me a card; again, no need. Could not have been any nicer.

    3)  I googled DMV, but a lost license is just replaced (which I did online when I got home). That was the most worrisome loss, because my birthdate is on the license. I did not have to worry about my social security number, because we use other numbers in Virginia. And now it was on record as being lost or stolen. 


    Or almost. On the way out I talked to some policemen in the station about the situation, and they suggested I check Lost and Found in the station (in case I dropped it outside the trolley), and report it missing at the police station on the second level. I did both, and the report was the most trouble—took about 30 minutes, and they wanted me to remember everything that was in my wallet! At least I had a written record (in Dutch) of the loss.

    I had enough cash on me and in the room, in dollars and euros, to take the trolley back to my hotel, to pay the taxi to the airport in the morning, including tips, snacks, etc. with a bit left over. (My room was already paid for). It is a good thing I had the dollars, because I DID need them in the States. That will be covered in a later blog about recovering from jet lag.

    What I learned from the event:

    1)  Having a phone that is activated to make international calls is non-negotiable; peace of mind, PRICELESS. Really. Depending on your company, setting this up can take a while (somehow, I always end up using the phone number on the website, because I always need clarification on something. This trip, it was a ‘I can’t believe it, this is too good to be true” clarification). More on that in my next blog

    2)  Carry all cards but one in your money belt (or keep in a safe in your room, if available), I prefer the money belt. 

    3)  You do not need to have the account numbers. The banks and card companies have other ways of identifying you. They many ask about your last purchase, and certainly your birth date.

    4)  Line up people back home you can call if there were problems

    5)  Have US dollars. $200 will cover a lot of emergency expenses when you get home.

    6)  MY phone is MUCH more important than anything I have in my wallet. IF I had lost my phone, I would have had to get back to my hotel  to discuss canceling cards, etc. or find the police first. I would have been adrift in a VERY big and scary ocean.

    ~~ One other thing I forgot to mention in the last blog was to be sure you call (or go on line for) all your card companies and report the dates of your travel. Then, call again the day before you leave to double check that the notice still stands. Thanks to Jennifer Young, for reminding me in a comment to my last blog. (Great blog, too!). Write down those contact numbers. Thank goodness they knew I was travelling, and were able to help me immediately. 


    I should have had the card company phone numbers in my phone, as well as written down  in my purse in a separate compartment, and my room. It would have made things a bit easier. Same for travel agent or company numbers, and the State Department/Consulate.

    I should NOT have carried my driver’s license around. I needed it in the US airports, but once I arrived to my destination, I could have put it in my money belt, or in the room safe. I would rather carry it with me. Remember, it had my birth date on it. 


    Next blog: MY Credit Card(s) Won’t Work, Money for a Hotel, and a Bit More about Phones…

    p.s. My web server does not allow comments to be shown, or have a area for replies from me. I DO get notices that a comment has been made, and then I can read them. IF you want a response, please put your email in the comment section so I can reply. The company is working on this, and will either be fixing it soon, I will be moving to a different blog site. TRÈS inconvenient! Next week, a reminder from Amy Donahue!



    Brenda says (Aug 6, 2016):

    very informative

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