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Old 07-22-2010, 10:25 AM   #21
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I keep some data securely online. Scan of passport for example. Financial information sufficient to allow me access would be another.

I usually keep duplicate copies of stuff in different places, different luggage and in different fellow travelers' possession.

I suppose if everyone was robbed of everything, I would beg and plead for help to at least be able to make a short telephone call to someone who could send me money via western union. Amex offices locally (if available) may also be able to replace your card and/or provide some cash. A printout of my passport would serve to prove identity (to some at least).

I guess I would be at the mercy of strangers to a certain extent at least the first few hours. If I was robbed of everything but still staying at a hotel, I figure I could always go back there and borrow their phone, get some money wired. If they have a dining area or room service, I could have the food charged to my room.

Ultimately if I really had to in order to survive, I would ask strangers on the street for money. Assuming I'm fairly well dressed and clean, my story would make sense and they would probably be willing to help me out with a buck. Anything to survive until I got some cash.

We were sort of "stuck" without much cash while in Uruguay this spring. Our "PLUS" network ATM card would not work at any ATMs nor would it work inside the banks. We tried and tried. So we conserved cash and paid for everything we could with credit cards. We were only in Uruguay for a few days, soon headed to Argentina for 5 more days. Our fear was that our ATM card wouldn't work in Argentina either. As it turned out it worked just fine at the first BNP Paribas branch we saw after getting off the ferry in BsAs. So we had plenty of cash the remainder of our trip. Moral of the story is next time we plan on traveling overseas, carry more cash and make sure our ATM cards will definitely work. I probably need to upgrade our ATM card to get it on the VISA network too, since the banks in Uruguay told us only VISA/MC network international ATM cards would work in Uruguay (plus local mercosur bank cards of course). We clearly had more expensive options to obtain cash if necessary, like cash advances on our credit cards, if it was really necessary. So not a true emergency situation as the OP is concerned about.
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Old 07-22-2010, 10:31 AM   #22
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I keep some data securely online. Scan of passport for example.
Scans of docs online. That's smart. An excellent tip. Thanks, FUEGO
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Old 07-22-2010, 10:46 AM   #23
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Scans of docs online. That's smart. An excellent tip. Thanks, FUEGO
If I can plead 20 minutes of free internet time from an internet cafe (or a local business or hotel) and a couple of free prints, I can get a few copies of my passport to use as bargaining tools to get some credit from a hotel, restaurant, etc till I get some cash. Most CC's can also overnight (or close to it) a replacement card to you most places in the world. Maybe 2-3 days to some places (Cambodia for example).

If I was somewhere that English or Spanish were not spoken, or other languages of my travel partners were not spoken, then things may get a little more tricky since I wouldn't be able to negotiate as well.
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Old 07-22-2010, 10:52 AM   #24
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I was just wondering if anyone could share their plan if, while traveling abroad, you are robbed of all your ways to get money (credit/debit/ATM cards, traveler's checks).
Whatever happened to the time-honored practice of pinning a few thousand in large denomination bills inside one's bra? I suppose if that was stolen one could go to the embassy and see if they would allow an overseas call to a friend or relative who could wire one some money.
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Old 07-22-2010, 11:29 AM   #25
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Whatever happened to the time-honored practice of pinning a few thousand in large denomination bills inside one's bra?
I donít think Kramer wears a bra. And if he does, well, he can add one more problem to deal with if he loses everything...
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Old 07-22-2010, 11:44 AM   #26
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Most CC's can also overnight (or close to it) a replacement card to you most places in the world. Maybe 2-3 days to some places (Cambodia for example).
Fuego, this is not my experience. AmEx might be able to do something where they have an office Ė say, Mexico City or Tokyo, but for Visa and MC you need to deal with the issuing bank. My experience is 5 business days.
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Old 07-22-2010, 12:01 PM   #27
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Thanks for the great tips. I have some follow-up questions, but first I will describe what I do.

I carry photos of everything in an infrequently accessed email account (front/back ATM/CCs/Debits, passport, drivers license, list of phone numbers, visas in my passport). I update this before every extended trip. Naturally, I also carry copies of my passport and the phone numbers in my luggage and usually carry a passport copy on my person.

I plan to start photographing my entry stamps after entry, thanks for the suggestion Michael. (most, but not all, country's systems are computerized nowadays so could pull up your exit/entry/visa history with your passport number). After getting your passport stolen and then replaced, you would also have to go to the immigration office of the country in which you are in. I consider the biggest disaster no cash, after that it is no identification. But if you have cash you can survive and stay safe.

I have a charged Skype account so I can call USA numbers without charges from anywhere in the world and other country's numbers at Skype rates. Of course, oftentimes the connection will not be good if you have low bandwidth, it could definitely be an issue from some places. When I place calls from my Skype account, the caller ID shows the phone number that is on record with my financial companies. Also, if I have a local mobile phone sim, when those companies call that USA phone number my local mobile phone will ring when I turn Skype forwarding on.

I would not think of going on an extended trip (1 month plus) with less than 3 ATM cards (I rarely if ever use a CC in a developing country, except to purchase plane tickets). I guess in a developed country trip of less than a month, I would put the minimum at 2 ATM cards and a reliable CC. I will normally have 3-4 ATM cards, which I try to never carry together, for my multi-month trips -- yes, I opened bank accounts primarily for this purpose. As an example, last year in Colombia the Star system, one of the major international ATM networks for Visa I think, went out. No one, including banks on both ends, even understood the problem for several days. The bottom line is that many people in the country, even expats who had not opened up a local bank account, could get no ATM money for something like 9 days. My cards are also diversified across ATM networks (including Cirrus) so I didn't have this problem, and I no longer let myself get low on cash.

If I am not established in a place, say with local or expat friends but just passing through, I will normally carry an ATM card on my person outside of my hotel room. This is in case everything got stolen at the hotel. I also keep some cash in a couple different places in my bags.

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Old 07-22-2010, 12:10 PM   #28
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Fuego, this is not my experience. AmEx might be able to do something where they have an office Ė say, Mexico City or Tokyo, but for Visa and MC you need to deal with the issuing bank. My experience is 5 business days.
Yes, I am wondering about the details of getting a Visa card replaced in a foreign country, I think this can be difficult.

I think many places will only send a replacement card to the address of record. My address of record is a mail forwarding place -- and they could FedEx cards to me. Of course, the credit card I use to fund my mail forwarding costs I carry on my trip and could be stolen (so I couldn't fund the FedEx). This and other reasons has got me to thinking that I have to leave a valid debit or credit card at home in the USA that I can use online, along with knowing its security code of course.

Also, getting a replacement card without identification, if there was some local way of doing it, could be very difficult, until you got your passport replaced. Same goes for cashing travelers checks -- they seem to always require your passport.

I have been assuming 1-2 weeks to get any replacement cards in a developing country. Maybe faster in a developed country.
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Old 07-22-2010, 12:11 PM   #29
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Fuego, this is not my experience. AmEx might be able to do something where they have an office – say, Mexico City or Tokyo, but for Visa and MC you need to deal with the issuing bank. My experience is 5 business days.
You're probably right. It has been 10 years since I lost almost everything in Mexico. I remember the Amex credit card was the first thing to arrive. I can't recall whether I had Visa or MC's with me or had them replaced. There was an American Express office in Cuernavaca where I was staying and I went there. Perhaps amex sent my replacement amex card to their own office and I picked it up from there?? Can't recall honestly. They offered cash but I don't remember if that is how I got the cash or whether my ATM card survived the theft. (Pick-pocketed in Mexico city). IIRC the cash from Amex would have been a cash advance (hence lots of fees and interest) although a small price to pay if you are really in an emergency. I wasn't in an emergency since I was there on study abroad and had my room and board prepaid with a local family, hence didn't have to have a lot of spending money.
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Old 07-22-2010, 12:19 PM   #30
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If I am not established in a place, say with local or expat friends but just passing through, I will normally carry an ATM card on my person outside of my hotel room. This is in case everything got stolen at the hotel. I also keep some cash in a couple different places in my bags.
We have experienced as much theft in developing countries from our luggage as from pickpockets (no robberies so far! ). The theft probably occurred in the hotel, but possibly when our luggage was checked and placed under the bus, if someone snuck in the luggage compartment while en route and went through everyone's stuff.

Agreed on the priorities - having ENOUGH cash/access to cash to get you stabilized, housed and fed is first priority. 2nd is getting passports and visas.

Thanks for the discussion. We may add some extra layers of safety to our next trip - extra ATM cards diversified across networks is a good idea (well, at least 2).
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Old 07-22-2010, 12:25 PM   #31
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What really got me to thinking about this is that I am getting rid of my traveler's checks, which I increasingly think are mostly useless. I am traveling to the Philippines in October, and they are mostly useless there. I am currently living in Colombia.

I started researching this wiring money to yourself concept. I plan to start an account with Xoom and then I could wire myself money from a bank account (fees are $5 plus about 2% on the exchange rate, pickup money almost anywhere). But you need identification to pick up the money. And you can't send yourself money via a credit card, it is not allowed as it is considered an end run around a cash advance. Sending money via a bank account takes 1-4 business days, typically.

So I figured my backup plan if I lost everything would be to wire someone on the hotel staff money using Xoom and the credit card that I left at home. Then I would send myself money via the bank account method, and probably pick it up near an American embassy/consulate after I got a new passport.

Most/All of the wire services will want to call you to confirm if you do an internet transaction. If your phone was also stolen, this could get real difficult. I have heard of them asking detailed questions culled from your credit records and many legitimate people were getting refused because they couldn't remember their address from 8 years ago or something like that or missed one of the questions (not just for credit card security but because of the Patriot Act).

I have family and friends who could reliably send me Western Union money (or to a hotel staff member that I specify). Maybe I should call to remind them that this is always a possibility!
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Old 07-22-2010, 12:37 PM   #32
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I am horrible for losing stuff. I will admit this before going on with this next part....

I have 3 times lost my CC's while out of the US. The one I talked about above earlier this year in Nicaragua. Once in London and the other time in Bolivia.

The one in Nicaragua took 2 days to get to me. They send it fed ex to the hotel/eco lodge I was staying at. A FedEx motorcyclist delivered it from the Capital. A VERY small town, where no place, including the hotel, has a street address. The BOA agent didn't give me a hard time at all about that, she laughed about sending the CC out to a hotel with no address or phone # but I assured her it would find me, as I said, small town, and it did. They told me they were going to charge me $35 but they never did.

Bolivia happened back in 2007 and took Citi about 3 days if I remember correctly and it was delivered to the friends home I was staying with.

The time I lost one in London was next day and this was probably 10 years ago. Don't recall which bank.

As I said in the post before however, my Credit Union wouldn't send me a replacement ATM card, no way no how. But, Western Union worked out better anyway.

These are my personal experiences only.
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Old 07-22-2010, 12:45 PM   #33
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Hopefully, you can still have a hotel room. So the first thing is to get back there & hopefully, they'll allow you the use of a phone and/or internet. You may not have an consulate/embassy in the town or even area that you're in, so don't count on that.

We have online, protected, copies of our passports & other information including reservation confirmations etc., so that would be where we'd start. I have online accounts for my credit cards/banks so I could get to them.

I have never planned for this drastic a situation, but will definitely keep it in mind the next time we're traveling.
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Old 07-22-2010, 12:55 PM   #34
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One easy way to avoid all this: don't travel. Not only the fear of being robbed in a foreign country, but the hassle of getting there in the first place.

As flying gets more stressful, some passengers turn rude - USATODAY.com
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Old 07-22-2010, 01:11 PM   #35
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I scan stuff and put it on a thumb drive that I travel with. There's certainly a risk of losing that, but I treat it like a valuable.
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Old 07-22-2010, 01:15 PM   #36
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Photocopies of entry/exit stamps are also useful if you have a tax with federal or state tax authorities.

Kramer, on your next trip to the US you might think about ordering copies of your birth certificate, and having one along with you when you return overseas. Makes dealing with US consular offices easier less difficult. Keep another copy in the US with relatives.

Agree with you on travelers checks Ė less relevant every day.

Iíve always relied on a family member for emergency. They have been reliable but not always punctual. The xoom idea is good because it does not depend on anyone else.

Identification. If youíve lost all your things, how do you identify yourself in an emergency. You could get a passport card and keep it separate from your passport. It wonít replace the passport for travel purposes but it should work fine for identification. This is my current plan. I keep expired passports for the same purpose. I used an expired driverís license for years. The combination of the passport photocopy and another valid credit card might do.
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Old 07-22-2010, 01:28 PM   #37
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If I was overseas and lost everything I would send out a message requesting money to all my friends on Facebook.
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Old 07-22-2010, 01:35 PM   #38
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If I was overseas and lost everything I would send out a message requesting money to all my friends on Facebook.
Good point. Even if I couldn't get the money to call internationally, if I could log into facebook or gmail, I could instant message some people and ask them to send $$ via western union or via wire transfer to the nearest bank.
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Old 07-22-2010, 02:15 PM   #39
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Good point. Even if I couldn't get the money to call internationally, if I could log into facebook or gmail, I could instant message some people and ask them to send $$ via western union or via wire transfer to the nearest bank.
Too late. The scammers have already been there. If I was that message, you could be my best buddy, it would get ignored.
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Old 07-22-2010, 02:25 PM   #40
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Too late. The scammers have already been there. If I was that message, you could be my best buddy, it would get ignored.

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