Do you take pride in being a responsible, well-informed traveler?
I certainly do. I read up on local history and customs, take time to learn at least a few words in the local language, never wear white tennis shoes in Europe, and make active decisions about protecting my valuables.
So you can imagine how surprised I was to find myself standing with my husband outside the closed American Embassy in Bratislava with no passport, missing credit cards, an international flight scheduled to leave in 12 hours, and no clear idea about what to do next.
snowpolodavos.com - How do you protect yourself from this kind of travel experience? (I refuse to say "disaster", incidentally. Having your passport buried in rubble from an earthquake is a disaster. Losing it IS a nasty shock, however.)
And how do you deal with the loss if it happens?
Here are 4 easy steps to avoiding loss or theft of your passport. And, because no plan is foolproof, the 5th step reviews what to do if it happens. snowpolodavos.com
1. Do not keep your passport, cash and credit cards together.
I thought I was being a wise, careful traveler when I got my husband a shiny new "RFID-blocking" leather passport/wallet combination. No one could steal the data from our chips now. He looked like a spy on a mission, like a traveling diplomat. Everything was together, easy to keep track of.
Huge mistake. Huge. Because when everything's together, then every time you need to pay for anything, you have to get it all out. And, if you're dealing with cash, which you will in many countries, you have to lay everything down, organize packages, separate cash and coins, and get it all put away.
And at some point, you will lay it down and that will be the end of it. Keep your cash separate from your credit cards, and keep your passport separate from everything else.
Thieves don't actually want your passport. In fact, most of them don't even want your credit cards. Credit card theft is easier to trace and the risks are higher. And passports are not easy to sell. Ask the police, and you will discover that passports and credit cards are usually found in a convenient dumpster.
What the thief wants is your cash. So carry cash, but only what you need that day. If you discover it's missing, it's only a little and you can replace it from the stash you left in the hotel safe. But if you discover your passport is missing, the fun stops till it's replaced. And when you start adding up charges for changing flights, extra hotel days, extra meals, transportation and replacement passport charges... losing your passport is not just a scary hassle, it's also very expensive.
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