How to Replace Lost or Stolen Belongings While Travelling Abroad

Imagine losing your purse while travelling. Here's how to keep calm and carry on

Credit: TV Week

A lost or stolen purse doesn’t have to mean the end of your vacation

When travel goes wrong and you lose important possessions, keep a cool head and follow these tips to get back on track

Picture this: You’re on the European vacation of a lifetime. You’re having the most perfect trip you could ever imagine, when you suddenly make a simple mistake anyone could make.

You set your bag down as you pay for a souvenir or take a bite to eat, and before you know it, your bag is gone. 
Your passport, credit cards, all your extra cash — all gone in an instant. It might sound like a worst-case scenario, but here are some tips for getting yourself back together and getting home safe and sound. 

What to Do if You Lose Your Belongings Abroad

Even this kind of disaster doesn’t have to ruin your trip if you know how to handle it.

  1. Don’t panic. That’s easier said than done in these situations, but panic will cloud your judgment and you need to be thinking straight.

  2. Ask for help. If you’re in a country where few people happen to speak English, make it your mission to find someone who does and get them to help you with whatever calls you need to make or to explain the situation to police. The first place to look for help? At your hotel or at the local tourist office. 

  3. File a police report. If nothing else, this may help with replacing your passport and credit cards, and it’s a must if you file an insurance claim for any other items you may have lost. 

  4. Replace your passport as soon as possible. Without a valid passport, you won’t be able to leave the country. Lack of a passport also means that you might have a tough time checking into a new hotel or having money wired to you if you require it. 
To replace your passport, go to your closest Canadian embassy or consulate. You’ll have pay a fee for a replacement, usually in the $100 range, but it can be issued within a few days, or faster if you make a good case for it. If you don’t have the money to pay, the embassy will help you get in touch with someone who can wire you what you need.

  5. Cancel any debit or credit cards you may have lost. Every credit card company has a global customer-assistance centre that you can call collect. It’s a good idea to keep this number in your suitcase in case of emergency. Your bank can generally deliver a new card to you in Europe within two to three business days.

See — it’s not the end of the world! Your trip doesn’t have to be a complete washout if you can act quickly and diligently to get all of your affairs back in order.

Stay Safe Travel Tips

Should your wallet, bag or suitcase go missing, you can avoid losing it all if you do a bit of prep work ahead of time. Here are two more tips to ensure you’re well prepared, in case of emergency:

  • Wear a money belt so you can always keep a few $20 bills hidden somewhere on you.

  • If you’re travelling with a partner, carry photocopies of each other’s passports and other important documents in addition to your own. Chances are good that you won’t both lose your papers.

Originally published in TV Week. For daily updates, subscribe to the free TV Week e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.