How To Recover When Your Travel Documents When Lost or Stolen

By Lloyd C | Updated October 28th, 2011

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travel documents missing

It is an unfortunate fact that many global travelers will encounter a hiccup on their trip. In most cases, you can overcome these issues. Occasionally though, a disaster can strike and trust us, it’s not the kind of day you are looking for. If your documents are missing, report it to the appropriate authorities.

What are we talking about here? You guessed it, lost or stolen travel documents. Everything from passports and visas, wallets containing credit cards, keys, checkbooks and airline tickets, even cell phones. Seriously, you do not want to be losing any of those bad boys.

Yet it happens. Every day somebody somewhere will misplace a valuable item and end up regretting it. So what can go wrong, picture these distressing scenarios:

Lost or Stolen Travel Documents – How it Can All Go Wrong

lost passport

The cab drops you at the airport, your wallet though is still in the back seat, the cab drives off. You are sitting having a morning coffee in a bar and leave to meet your partner. Sadly, your cell phone stays behind. On returning to your hotel room you discover it is not quite as you left it. Now you realize your travel documents are missing.

A pain in the backside but not quite as dreadful. Your bankcard stops working on account of tripping security filters back home. You have to make an expensive international call to sort it all out. You are arrested in a case of mistaken identity and thrown in jail never to be seen again. Actually, let’s not go there…

So the worst happens, we lost our travel documents. What do we do? Who do we call?

So, there we have it. A multitude of nightmare scenarios that can seriously strip the gloss from the adventure trip that you had been looking forward to for months. If any of these scenarios sound familiar, take some respite in the knowledge that help is at hand. Things are never quite as bad as they seem.

Firstly, if you lose an item establish that it is anywhere among things. If simply misplaced, for example, if you leave a hotel key on a restaurant table, it might get returned. This is not the time to be shy or embarrassed about asking the manager, ask anyone and everyone. The same is true for more obviously valuable items such as cell phones and wallets.
Not everyone is dishonest, I remember when I was young and reckless and I left a wallet on a car roof, the contents spilling into the road.

To my good fortune, a passing lady found each item. Every bankcard and coin and present them to the bank. The bank later calls me a day later to return my property. So, there are good decent people in the world and all is not necessarily gone. The lesson here is that it is well worth retracing your steps. You will cover every possibility until it is apparent that your missing item really is gone for good.

Do Not be Afraid to Ask for Help – Your Hotel or Local People Can Often Assist

Modern luxury hotel reception counter desk with bell

If an item such as a passport vanishes and you cannot find it, then you need to call your embassy or consular. This is not as daunting as it sounds, chances are your hotel will be able to direct you or even make arrangements on your behalf.

For lost or faulty bankcards the obvious option is to call home, however, in some cases, your bank will have local branches where they can assist. Again your hotel could assist in making bank appointments. They may also be able to help with any language translations.

Whatever the severity of the missing items, do not panic. It is easier said especially when you see the prospect of a trip lying in ruins. However, with a cool head on calm shoulders the situation may not be as bleak as it looks.

Woman Walking After Losing His Wallet On Street

Tackle each job to complete without rushing and deal with people patiently and politely. They will be more willing to help you. In many cases, replacement visas and banking funds can be with you within days or less and you can be back on the road.

In extreme circumstances, the embassy or consular will be able to act on your behalf and make special arrangements for funds or clearance to leave.

So lost or stolen items do not mean doom and gloom. Of course, any loss will take the edge of a trip or vacation away. But, it is possible to recover from what seems initially to be a fatal blow if matters are done smoothly and calmly.

The best advice, of course, is to be proactive, always check your pockets, look behind you in the cab or on the table you just left. This reduced the chances of leaving items behind. For security always use a hotel safe if there is one and only carry a limited amount of cash on your person.

These small but essential steps for the wayward traveler can help minimize the risk of loss and theft leaving you to concentrate on enjoying your trip and exploring which is what it is all about.