So imagine that you are on a night bus in Vietnam, you wake up in say… Nha Trang, sleepily drag yourself to the nearest hostel, reach into your bag, only to find that whilst you were asleep some crafty bugger has stolen all of your money and bankcards because, yes, you where stupid enough to keep them all in the same place!
Well…this as you may be able to tell has in fact happened to me, and I am writing this post for anyone else who should find themselves in this sticky situation.
Step 1: Remain calm
In the first hour of losing my money I did not remain calm at all, I sat on the floor of a hostels lobby screaming bloody murder and sobbing my eyes out. What did this achieve? NOTHING! Other than being politely asked to leave the establishment.
Only once I calmed the F**K down was I able to sort out my life, so vaguely remembering that my dad had told me what to do in this situation, and that I had something to do with a Western Union, I hauled ass to McDonalds to steal some free internet from the street corner.
Step 2: Ask For Help
After finding out that a Western Union is a money transfer service (It can be found at every bank) , I figured that I needed to get money sent from somewhere. Asking your parents is usually a good call, but if you can’t ask your parents ask your partner or a good friend to borrow enough money for say two weeks. You ask via email using McDonalds free Wifi. If you don’t have a phone or laptop because that was also stolen then beg a local for help, they will usually be willing.
Step 3: Find Food & Accommodation
It could be a while until your loved one can send you the money, so until then you need to find a guest house or hotel with a restaurant that does not charge money up front, trade in a form ID (Passport / Drivers Licence) for accommodation and a bar tab.
Step 4: Contact your bank
Contact your bank using the hotels phone and cancel your card. At this point you have two options, if you are with HSBC send a new bank card in branch and collect at the nearest big city. If you are not with HSBC…That sucks!
You can get a new card sent home and then out to you, this can take a long time and you will have to remain in one address until it arrives. Or you can get it sent home give a trusted person your bank details and have them wire you over all of your money to the Western Union. Withdraw it and change it into traveller’s cheques.
This is also the point that you should pay back any borrowed money.
Step 5: Learn from your mistakes
Whatever you do, do not get the money you borrowed and leave it in one place again and then go for a dip in the sea leaving your bag on the beach! Trust me; I won’t make that mistake for a third time.
Next time you leave the country make photocopy’s of all of your card details and ID. Set up something with your bank that a parent can withdraw from your account if need be, it will make everything a lot easier for them. A great tip to not losing your card is to keep many cards; I now travel with a debit card, a cash card and a credit card for emergencies and keep them all separate.
Once you have completed all of these steps you have solved your problem and can continue on your travels.
Have your credit cards been stolen while traveling? How did you deal with it?