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Losing everything while traveling, whats your plan
Old 07-21-2010, 08:06 PM   #1
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Losing everything while traveling, whats your plan

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). The answer might be different in a developing or developed country.

Was it easy to get replacement cards sent to you, or were you even able to get some replaced locally? Has anyone successfully wired money to themselves using a credit or debit card that you did not have in your possession (e.g., one you left at home and thus was not stolen)? Do you set up such an account for wiring money before leaving? Does anyone have the experience of losing their passport -- how did you get a new one? Are traveler's checks very useful in these situations?

Anyway, I always try to plan for the worst when traveling to areas where I don't already have a network of contacts and friends.

Please feel free to share your ideas and experiences.

Kramer
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Old 07-21-2010, 09:19 PM   #2
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Excellent question. Thankfully I have never had to deal with this for real. I have a credit card that has a concierge service and I would use it. Of course that means I would have to have the details to hand. If I had access to the Internet I could find the information I need. A cell phone that works around the world is also preferable, which is why I have one. And of course if my passport were stolen I would contact the embassy. If I were going to a non-English speaking country I would print out all this information beforehand and pack it in my suitcase. When travelling abroad I also bring a photocopy of my passport.
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Old 07-21-2010, 09:35 PM   #3
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I keep two separate ATM (credit union and local bank) cards, along with two separate credit cards (one Amex, one Visa).

I keep one set in my money pouch, clipped to the inside of my pants. The other set on my person (pocket). I do not carry a wallet but cash is held in a front pocket.

I keep a copy of my passport in multiple places. One in each piece of luggage/carry-on. I do not carry my passport on my person normally (except for places like Russia), but I will slip a passport copy into a pocket. This is primarily for if I am by myself (like when my DW shops) and I am hit by a car. At least (especially in a foreign country that does not normally use English) that I have some sort of ID if I am out of it and taken to a hospital.

In addition, I will also carry a copy of my itinerary in my daypack (a small "man purse" which I usually use). If something drastic happens, at least the authorities are aware of the hotel I am staying or the ship I am on, along with my emergency contact info.

I keep a copy of my medical ID (regardless if it is needed), along with a list of medications in my daypack also noting that I'm not allergic; however I'm diabetic (controlled via diet) so if my numbers are a bit off, they know the reason.

I carry a cell phone (3 band) that can be used anywhere (assuming there is a cell tower nearby).

As for backup? My wife does the same thing (everything x2, including the phone). We do use the cell each day to call home regardless of the country, to speak with our (disabled) son.

Sounds a bit much? Maybe - but then there is peace of mind. I can be dropped in a country without luggage and pretty much ensure my trip will be continued.

BTW, we do travel (both ex-US & CONUS) several times each year and have, for many, many years.

This works for us...
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Old 07-21-2010, 11:47 PM   #4
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I have a world-wise young friend who was robbed of E*V*E*R*Y*T*H*I*N*G by a taxi driver when he first came to Chile. I am not sure how he got home. I must ask him sometime. (Needless to say, he has no love for Chile.) I keep that in the back of my mind when I plan travel.
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Old 07-22-2010, 01:27 AM   #5
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Assuming everything was gone, I'd try to get to a U.S. embassy to get what help I could there, and a new passport. I'd call someone in the U.S and have them wire me enough $$ to tide me over until I could get a new debit card sent to me.

But I never thought of doing the wiring myself. Can you wire $$ to yourself, without any cards or documentation, at, say, Western Union?
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Old 07-22-2010, 04:10 AM   #6
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Copying your passport is important. Also I leave a couple of copies of my passport back at home with people as they can fax a copy to you if you lose everything. Having a multi band cel phone is also very useful as you can very easily call home. Our company provides international travel insurance which is very helpful if you get sick abroad (most international travelers have at least one story of getting sick on the road.. I have several).
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Old 07-22-2010, 04:41 AM   #7
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Earlier this year while in Nicaragua I lost my wallet with 2 CC's and my ATM card in it. Luckily, my passport was at the hotel. I SHOULD have had at least some money separated and at least one of my CC's separate. I KNOW this, and each and every time I travel I plan on doing it, but never seem to do so.... LOL

I literally had about 50 cents floating around in the bottom of my purse when I went to pay for my lunch (that I had already eaten). I went to an internet cafe where I used skype to call my sister and she Western Unioned me $500 (cost was about $20 to do it online using her CC) and by the time I got to Western Union an hour or so later, took a taxi who was willing to wait for me to pay him, the money was there. I paid for the taxi and went back and paid for my lunch. They had allowed me to leave and come back and pay.

One of my CC's sent me a new CC which took 2 days to arrive via FedEx. My Credit Union was unwilling to send me a new ATM card under any circumstances. I have found that travelers checks are virtually useless these days. No one wants to accept them and if they do, they charge outrageous fees.

Really it was a pain in the butt but not the end of the world. Pretty much everywhere you go you will find a Western Union and as long as you have someone to wire you the money, or have your CC # to wire money to yourself, you will always be ok.
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Old 07-22-2010, 06:44 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by rescueme View Post
I keep two separate ATM (credit union and local bank) cards, along with two separate credit cards (one Amex, one Visa).

I keep one set in my money pouch, clipped to the inside of my pants. The other set on my person (pocket). I do not carry a wallet but cash is held in a front pocket.

I keep a copy of my passport in multiple places. One in each piece of luggage/carry-on. I do not carry my passport on my person normally (except for places like Russia), but I will slip a passport copy into a pocket. This is primarily for if I am by myself (like when my DW shops) and I am hit by a car. At least (especially in a foreign country that does not normally use English) that I have some sort of ID if I am out of it and taken to a hospital.

In addition, I will also carry a copy of my itinerary in my daypack (a small "man purse" which I usually use). If something drastic happens, at least the authorities are aware of the hotel I am staying or the ship I am on, along with my emergency contact info.

I keep a copy of my medical ID (regardless if it is needed), along with a list of medications in my daypack also noting that I'm not allergic; however I'm diabetic (controlled via diet) so if my numbers are a bit off, they know the reason.

I carry a cell phone (3 band) that can be used anywhere (assuming there is a cell tower nearby).

As for backup? My wife does the same thing (everything x2, including the phone). We do use the cell each day to call home regardless of the country, to speak with our (disabled) son.

Sounds a bit much? Maybe - but then there is peace of mind. I can be dropped in a country without luggage and pretty much ensure my trip will be continued.

BTW, we do travel (both ex-US & CONUS) several times each year and have, for many, many years.

This works for us...
Wow. Next time DH and I travel, we're taking you two with us
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Old 07-22-2010, 06:57 AM   #9
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Wow. Next time DH and I travel, we're taking you two with us
No problem (as long as you pay).

BTW, we just got back from a Baltic cruise last month, plus a few days in London. In September, my DW is heading out again with her travel buddy (another woman that shares her wanderlust) to do a Canyonlands/Vegas tour in the West, followed by a Nile cruise in November.

That's why we duplicate all backup "procedures"; we don't always travel together (thank goodness - I can't keep up with her)...
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Old 07-22-2010, 07:11 AM   #10
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I am not sure what the concern is so much about passports. It is not a disaster at all if you lose one now. I was travelling with niece last year when her purse was stolen in Madrid, along with her passport. It was absolutely no trouble to get a duplicate issued at the US Embassy. She had no ID at all, but with her name, address, Social Security # and face matching the passport photo on the embassy computer screen, she was issued another passport on the spot.

Another story, however. The current advice most often given is to forget about bringing cash when travelling because ATM cards are so convenient and inexpensive with the exchange rates. Well, just a month ago we were in Europe and our Bank of America ATM cards would not work anywhere. These are just run of the mill BoA ATM cards like a million others. Multiple phone calls could not get them going. So we resolved to not worry so much about our passports but to make sure we have multiple ways of getting money and credit on the road.
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Old 07-22-2010, 07:22 AM   #11
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Well, just a month ago we were in Europe and our Bank of America ATM cards would not work anywhere.
This is an important point. We learned many years ago (actually, when I was still wor*ing and travelled to Europe quite often), was to notify both the credit card company and your bank/CU ATM access debit card that you will be out of the country, what dates, and which countries.

They will not authorize a release while you are in that country; it has to be done on "this side" - as we learned the hard way.

With ATM/CC security a high priority these days, I have no problem at all. In fact, when I was at CDG (Paris) and bought a few bottles of wine (business trip) I had a message waiting for me at home to confirm my purchase. When I called back to confirm, they said the only reason they initially let it go through was that I was in the "pattern of normal use". However, they did say/remind me that it is a good habit to notify them every trip, since there was no way of telling if/when security would be further tightened up. Heck, I just used my ATM card in Saint Petersburg, Russia without a problem. If anything, you would have throught there would have been a problem, there. OTOH, Russian border control was really giving everybody the "evil eye" when it came to passports and why you were there - where you were going (and we were only there two days, on a cruise ship - not international spies). I doubt very much if they would have even let you on the peir if you lost/mis-placed your original passport.

Of course, you are correct about passports. The problem arises when you are not in a major city to get a replacement but more importantly, it is an inconvenience while traveling - especially when you have every day planned hour to hour (like my DW normally does). I'm more anal about passport security (e.g. don't lose the original) but than again, that just us . We don't look forward to any impact to our plans, which can be avoided by just a few actions on our part.
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Old 07-22-2010, 07:26 AM   #12
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European CC's and ATM Cards have a chip that US CC's (and I assume ATM cards) don't have. They are called "chip-and-pin" cards. It is not unusual these days to have them rejected. Have had it happen to me too...

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/cred...-coming-1.aspx

For me, losing a passport can be a huge hassle due to getting to the Embassy. I was in a small town and only had to go 5 miles away to get to Western Union when I lost my wallet. Had I lost my passport I would have had to go to the capital city to get a new passport which would have taken an entire day. Plus, losing a passport can put up a big red flag on your name. I already have lots of hassles coming thru C&BP as it is due to some of the countries I visit, I don't need more problems!
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Old 07-22-2010, 07:42 AM   #13
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Another story, however. The current advice most often given is to forget about bringing cash when travelling because ATM cards are so convenient and inexpensive with the exchange rates. Well, just a month ago we were in Europe and our Bank of America ATM cards would not work anywhere. These are just run of the mill BoA ATM cards like a million others. Multiple phone calls could not get them going. So we resolved to not worry so much about our passports but to make sure we have multiple ways of getting money and credit on the road.
That's interesting. I travel multiple times a year to Europe and my Bank of America ATM card always worked. I do not contact the bank before I travel.
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Old 07-22-2010, 07:49 AM   #14
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Right. Us too.^^ We travel a lot and have used our BoA ATM cards lots of places and never had to notify the bank about anything. We do notify the credit card issuers, though.

So it was a real shock not to be able to use our ATM cards to get cash in Germany, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic in April. This was something new, but no one we could get on the phone could explain it or do anything about it.
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Old 07-22-2010, 09:01 AM   #15
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I'm printing out the official RescueMe travel safeguards above for DH! He thought he was doing good to keep a copy of our passports on our recent trip overseas. Amateur!

We used a CapitalOne Visa to pay for almost everything--DH had called the CC companies to advise of the potential overseas use of our cards and was thrilled to learn CapitalOne would not charge any fees for converting euros to dollars (the other cards ranged from 3 to 5 percent). DH also took travelers' checks, which also came home with us for the most part--as JustMe noted above, they were expensive to cash so we used the CapitalOne Visa instead.

In almost every restaurant, the waiter brought a handheld thingie to run the card right in front of us, so the card was never out of our sight. Not that the number couldn't be stolen anyway, but it was interesting. Probably the restaurant gets their money from the CC company more quickly that way, too.

Most of the hotels we stayed in had in-room safes where you create the code to lock/unlock so that was handy and I guess "safe" . Except for the time DH left one wide open and his wallet on top, but no harm done.
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Old 07-22-2010, 09:09 AM   #16
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In almost every restaurant, the waiter brought a handheld thingie to run the card right in front of us, so the card was never out of our sight.
That is normally used with the CC/Debit card that has the chip (not used in the US).

You need to key in a 4-digit pin so the CC works. Avoids lost CC/Debit cards being used by someone else. I have no idea why that technology is not used in the US.

The CC card, along with my company ID (I worked for two different Euro companies over the years), both had these "smart card" security features...
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Old 07-22-2010, 09:29 AM   #17
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Hey Kramer, itís been a while. How are you? Where are you?

You raise three separate issues: cash, credit cards, and passport. My experiences with these are dated but I suspect not much has improved and some things are probably worse.

CC companies are unreliable. You can cancel the card immediately with collect intíl call but replacement takes 7-10 days despite what they say. Wiring money to yourself is a good idea, but doing it from a replacement card means waiting until you have the physical card.

Intíl cash access has greatly improved, now you can get either CC cash advance or ATM just about anywhere, so a backup card enables lots of options. You just need the card.

Passport is a real issue. Lose it and you have three problems: get to and enter the nearest consulate, replace the passport, and demonstrate to local authorities you entered the country legally. You gain entry to the consulate and enable your replacement passport with a photocopy of your previous one and some other legit photo id. Could be an old (expired) driverís license. Once in, itís simple Ė application, passport fee (sometmes paid only in US$), pics (which you already have) and wait.

Local immigration. When you lose your passport you also lose your visa and proof of legal entry. A photocopy of the visa and travel doc (airline ticket) helps.

What I do when overseas.
1. Keep two photocopies of my passport and birth certificate. One with me, separate from the passport, and the other in the US where a family member can get it and mail or fax it to me. In addition, an old driverís license.
2. Photocopy of my visas (especially extended stay in one location) and travel info - airline docs, ticket and reservation numbers.
3 A separate stash of cash (local currency and US$) and an active CC together with the photocopies.
4. In high crime area (Caracas, Rio) I carry two wallets. One has low denomination bills, an expired cc and expired ID. The real wallet is very thin, no cash and in a front pocket.

For me worst case scenario Ė everything lost (never happened) is get a replacement CC overnighted to a family member, then FedEx it along with some cash and the photocopies of the docs to me. Still going to take a week but at least Iíll have all the things I need.
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Old 07-22-2010, 09:44 AM   #18
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Another story, however. The current advice most often given is to forget about bringing cash when travelling because ATM cards are so convenient and inexpensive with the exchange rates. Well, just a month ago we were in Europe and our Bank of America ATM cards would not work anywhere. These are just run of the mill BoA ATM cards like a million others. Multiple phone calls could not get them going. So we resolved to not worry so much about our passports but to make sure we have multiple ways of getting money and credit on the road.
If proprietary ATM cards still exist, they might well have problems. But a card with a Visa/MC/Cirrus/Maestro ought to work more or less anywhere in Europe, apart perhaps from those funny little ATMs in gas stations, which I always assume will eat my card or charge me 30%.

Of course, a card is pretty easy to lose or have go wrong, or overzealous bank people can block it for "suspicious activity" because "you're using it outside your home state" (duhhh, didn't the brochure say how useful it was for travel?).
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Old 07-22-2010, 10:04 AM   #19
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All my current credit and debit cards have chip technology. They can be read by "old" and "new" technology alike. I have had no problem in Europe.

I have twice had my VISA card rejected abroad. Once was in Paris, France, where they assumed it had been stolen. I travel a lot and going to Paris would not strike me as unusual, so I had not notified the credit card company. It was a minor hassle and I had to sign a bond to check out of my hotel (a Meridien).

About two years later, my VISA card was rejected in the Middle East - despite the fact that I had notified the credit card company of the details of my itinerary two weeks before! That is downright annoying. I think these decisions are automated and not reviewed by a human being who can read the customer's notification.
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Old 07-22-2010, 10:14 AM   #20
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Great tips. Now I'm wondering if a library card bar code on my keys is enough ID to carry when taking out the garbage. I sometimes take an unplanned walk afterword and run a risk of traffic accident or sliding down a hillside while looking yet again for an unofficial geocache/letterbox hide.
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