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7 steps to survive a theft while traveling

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Last updated on 20/02/2017 at 13:59:12

It’s not something I wish could happen to you, but when traveling the odds that something can go wrong are naturally higher than staying at home. You can be robbed, but you can also lose your backpack somewhere or ruin its content falling into the water, a lion can eat it, or aliens could abduct your hidden wallet with documents and credit cards, so prepare for the worse.

I cannot tell you the perfect solution to survive a theft, but if you follow these steps the chances are that you’ll be readier for an unfortunate situation to happen.

1 – Get a travel insurance

That’s compulsory. If you want to travel, you can save money in many ways, but that’s something you really should NOT save on. You know how karma works, right? The time you have no insurance, something happens. So, to prevent this funny situation, start using your favorite search engine and look for the insurance that fits your needs.

There are several out there; I can tell you that World Nomads is probably the best I ever tried but that’s up to your needs. Anyway, if you want the perfect guide, take a look at this article.

2 – Take a picture of all your stuff

Photographic equipment | 7 steps to survive a theft

Something like that. I’m glad I’m no photographer.

You sure have a list of the things you want to pack and bring with you so, after you gathered everything, take a picture of these. Clothes are not that relevant but other things, like documents and hi-tech stuff, yes.

Passport, ID card, camera, smartphone… everything that’s valuable in a certain way, make sure you have a proof of what it was and if you still have a receipt when you bought it, take a picture of that too. The more, the better. Insurance companies require you to prove as much as you can to refund a loss, and that’s the best way to do it.

Also, make some copies of your IDs, they could be useful.

3 – Put them on the cloud

Nowadays we talk about cloud everywhere on the net, so let’s take advantage of this technology. I’m pretty sure all of you have an online storage service but if you don’t, what I can tell you is to choose between one of this two: Dropbox or OneDrive.

Both come with a free plan offering you some free GB to store your files (Dropbox 2 GB, OneDrive 5 GB), both are well-integrated with PCs or smartphones so what we need to do now is to put the pictures we took on one of these services.

Plus, you can store your files while you travel, like the pictures on your SD card, and don’t lose anything: with an Internet connection, no matter where, you can access them from every device in the world.

4 – Split things between more bags

Are you bringing with you two credit cards? Don’t keep them together, or the chances that you lose them both at the same time are higher. Keep one with you and the other one in the backpack, or where you think it could be safe. Same thing for the documents. If you travel with the passport and ID card keep them separated, so at least one of them could remain in your possession.

Remember this for the things you carry with you and think: what would happen if they stole my backpack with everything inside? Try to act smart, don’t put all together in one place. Redundancy!

These were the initial steps, before the trip. Now let’s imagine something went bad, and you have almost nothing left (that’s what happened to me after the second of the 12 planned weeks in South America…)

5 – Police!

German police department | 7 steps to survive a theft

Both you lost something or someone robbed you, call the police. If you have no phone left, ask for help with locals. You will obviously have to fill a report, stating what happened to you and what you lost, and that’s where our pictures come handy.

If you can’t access them, try to remember the best you can all your belongings, everything you had: documents, tickets, mobiles, books and so on. You’ll need this report for the refund of the insurance.

With the police report stating that I also lost a bus ticket to Patagonia, I was able to travel nevertheless on that bus showing the paper to the driver, but that’s subjective.

Take in mind that, without your documents, you won’t be able to cross any border, so let’s read on!

6 – Find a consulate/embassy

You need your documents back so find the closest consulate/embassy for your country and go there.

Depending on the situation and the nation, with the police report you now have they could release you a temporary passport to continue traveling or prepare you a new one. This option, though, requires most likely to have a new passport coming from your home country, that means weeks of delay (you know, bureaucracy).

If you opt for this solution but want to continue with your trip, you can ask they send your passport to another city in that same country provided with a consulate/embassy, so at least you travel around a bit before it’s ready. It’s what I did in Argentina, except I had to wait in any case 3 weeks in Bariloche… “It’s coming, it’s coming, tomorrow!” they said.

Keep also this in mind: with your new passport, when crossing a border for the first time, officials won’t see any stamp for the entrance in that country. They’ll have to investigate and find the date you entered, and this could take a while so relax and be patient, they’re just doing their job.

7 – Block your cards!

Credit cards | 7 steps to survive a theft

If you lose your credit/debit/prepaid cards, there’s only one thing to do: block them. Every circuit has an international number to call and block the card so write it somewhere, try not to lose it and call that number.

They will ask you for proof of your identity, to know if you’re the real owner of the card you want to block, and that should be enough. And that’s why I told you to have a copy of your documents if you have nothing left!

Now it’s up to you. You did everything you could to solve this situation but don’t be sad, in the end, it was only some stuff. Now relax and enjoy your trip, it could have gone worse!

And you, my fellow reader, any unfortunate event happened on your trips? Tell me in the comment section!

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7 steps to survive a theft while traveling

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Dear Luca,

    I’m sorry tihs happened to you. I guess one can never be save from thefts, no matter where you are. Your tips however, are very helpful. Especially the aspect to always keep your stuff in different bags

    When I’m traveling, I always have a bag with me, that has “inside bags” as well. 😉 In this bag, I always put my money and cards, so the theft cannot open it. Things, that are less important, I leave in the outside bags. However, I always try to leave most of the stuff in a safe at the accommodation I’m staying at as well. 😉

    Best regards,

    • You know what happened to me? Do you know those “pockets” to put around your belly like a belt? I had one with important stuff inside but the day I was robbed I put it in the backpack because the day was hot and I felt uncomfortable with that thing, slowly getting sticky, wrapped around me. Karma is a bi@@h!

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