I was robbed last night by a guy who looked like a drug-addled Alfred E. Neuman and a girl in gaucho pants. Now, I’ve got no proof that they were the pair that lifted my wallet out of my purse at a subterranean Village bar where I was attending a holiday gathering, but I’m pretty certain. Fortunately, the heist wasn’t totally catastrophic (though it has been upsetting enough!!) because I had my phone and keys with me and after dinner (but before the karaoke crime scene) I had failed to put my trusty American Express back in my wallet. It was in my pocket.
Now you might be asking yourself what this has to do with travel? Here it is: I had two thoughts upon realizing that my wallet had been swiped. The first was a series of expletives and the second was that this scenario is why, when traveling, you should never have all your important stuff with you or stashed in the same place.
Kate, Mitch (our director) and I were very nearly robbed in Honduras. It was scary. And thwarted (by me, thank you very much). But that night, walking through Tegucigalpa, I had everything with me. Passport, ID, cash, hotel key, credit cards. Had the hoodlums gotten my bag, the trip would have been over in a nanosecond. I would have spent the next week waiting around the U.S. Embassy, calling family and friends asking them to wire money. It would have been a disaster because there would have be no way to pay my way out of anything.
So I’m here to offer some advice. When traveling, pull from your wallet the essentials. Debit card. Primary credit card. Identification. Leave behind the $20 gift card to the Gap or your Jake’s Coffee frequent buyer card. Last night I lost my Hale and Hearty “green card,” just one stamp shy of my free salad. So that was money (and hard work!) lost too.
The idea is to minimize risk. If you have everything with you in one place, then everything is gone if it is lost or stolen. Put a little spare cash in a sock. Don’t keep your passport with your credit cards. Always keep a photo-copy of that document hidden away in a suitcase or something. Also, keep a list of emergency contact numbers separate from your phone, just in case.