Preparing for Your Trip Abroad:
Let Others Know Where You Are
When you go abroad, stay in contact with people back home. Talk to your parents, spouse, friends, or neighbors and let them know where you are, what you’re doing, and if you have plans to travel elsewhere. This can cut down on their worry and your hassle should the unthinkable occur. By keeping up-to-date with your whereabouts, your loved ones can take a proactive stance and familiarize themselves with banks, post offices, and money transfer services in your area — just in case.
Spread Out Your Cash
Prevention is sometimes the best method of survival; although, this won’t necessarily keep you from getting pick-pocketed or robbed. Keeping your cash spread out may help you avoid being entirely stranded. Keep money in different places on your person, such as:
- pant or shirt pockets
- secret pockets
- coat pockets
- wallet or bag
- and even pinned to underwear
You should also keep certain items in your room or lodgings, when possible. Keep money, credit, or debit cards in the room safe, store your passport when you can, and try not to go out with your ID unless it’s necessary.
Invest in Traveler’s Checks
Traveler’s checks can be lifesavers while you’re abroad. They can still get stolen, but you’re only losing a set amount of money. It’s not the same as having your credit or debit cards stolen, which gives thieves full access to your funds. That’s not to say that you won’t get stranded without money, but there’s the consolation that your bank account and credit lines are still safe.
What to do if You’re Robbed Abroad:
Ask Friends and Family to Transfer Funds
If the worst happens, even knowing your accounts are safe is a somewhat cold comfort. You’re still stranded, broke, and in a terrible bind. Now is the time to rely on the people back home. There are many ways to transfer money internationally. They don’t have to send you the entire sum you lost, but some cash to tide you over is eminently helpful.
Look into the different ways to transfer money; everyone involved should exercise caution. Every transfer needs authentication, and you must do it through a trustworthy, reputable source. Different methods have different rules, which is something to keep in mind if you’ve also lost your ID or passport.
Visit the Embassy
One of the first things you should do when you get to your destination is find the local embassy for your country. Similarly, visiting the embassy is one of the first things you should do if you’re the victim of theft. The employees there can help you with the details of reporting lost identification, replacing your passport, and they may even help you with accommodation and things of that nature.
Cancel Your Credit Cards
No matter what, cancel your credit cards. Even if a thief stole only your debit card or ID, you should put a hold on all your accounts. With your name, address, phone number, and the information on your driver’s license and passport, a tech-savvy thief can easily ruin your credit, life, and identity.
Call Your Bank
You should call your bank at home and let them know what’s happening. You can cancel your debit cards and put a lock on your bank account, too. In many cases, your bank will also flag any sketchy activity, which may lead you to finding the thieves who took your things in the first place. That’s a best-case scenario, but your bank will still happily work with you to keep your accounts and your financial reputation in good standing.
Get a New Passport Immediately
Losing a passport is horrible. Without it, you’re lost. Bad things could happen even if you didn’t necessarily lose your passport. You may have read about the man stuck in Korea because his child scribbled on his passport. If you don’t have yours, you may well end up stuck in Paris, Shanghai, or Sydney for an indefinite amount of time.
Although it’s a hassle, replacing your passport isn’t difficult. However, it is imperative if you want to return to your home country. Once again, a visit to the embassy is helpful. You need to talk to the embassy’s Consular Section, at which time you can also provide the details of the crime against you. You need certain items to replace your passport:
- an appropriate photo
- your ID
- evidence of your citizenship
- your itinerary
- an application for a new passport
- and a statement explaining how or why you lost your passport
You may not have some of these because of the theft, but the staff will do everything possible to help you. Be aware that some embassies won’t issue a new passport on a holiday or weekend. Also, depending on the nature of the crime, you may still have to pay the normal fees.
Prevent Identity Theft
It’s always best to prevent identity theft before it occurs, either by promoting safe practices or protecting your debit and credit cards. Even calling your bank and credit card companies immediately after the fact is helpful, however. Remember, if thieves have your name or personal information, they can:
- spend all your money, within hours
- withdraw all the money from your accounts
- open new bank accounts in your name
- open credit cards in your name
- get a cell phone
- apply for government documents
- make huge purchases — houses, cars, apartments, loans
- and commit horrible crimes using your identity
By no means should you ever fear going abroad. The world is a beautiful place, and the people in it are largely good. Keep in mind, however, that there are thieves everywhere. Teach yourself how to survive if you’re ever a target.