The Organizemytravels.com Blog

Travel Lesson Learned: Chicago, IL 2014



Being robbed is a horrible violation…but being robbed while away from home is worse.  Having your purse, wallet, passport, cell phone and computer stolen can basically ruin your vacation or business trip.  There are, however, a few things you can do to make recovering from this situation a little easier.

One of my friends was recently in Chicago on a business trip.  Her hotel room was not ready so she decided to leave her suitcase at the front desk and take her laptop/carry-on bag to a restaurant next door for some dinner.

The restaurant was crowded so she took a seat at the bar, hanging her laptop bag and purse over the back of her chair.  She took out her iPad to check email while waiting for her dinner.  When dinner came to an end, my friend asked for the check and reached for her wallet to pay the tab -- except that her purse and laptop bag were both gone.  Unbeknownst to her, someone had stolen her laptop bag and purse off the back of her bar stool --  no credit cards, cash, ID, business laptop – everything was gone except for her iPad.

Thankfully the restaurant manager empathized with my friend’s misfortune and allowed her to leave the restaurant without paying her bill (with a promise to return the money at a later date).

Below are just a few things my friend had to take care of (while simultaneously tending to her business trip and clients):

  1. Inform her employer/company that her laptop, security badge and corporate credit card were stolen.
  2. Call personal credit card companies informing them that her wallet was stolen and to cancel all credit cards.  (If you don’t have your credit card numbers memorized this might take longer than necessary.)
  3. Call her bank to cancel debit cards and figure out a way to get cash without an ID.
  4. Find a local branch of her bank in Chicago – (Hopefully you remember your bank account numbers and hopefully the bank has a way to identify you without a picture ID.)
  5. Figure out how to get her car out of the airport parking lot at home without the credit card she swiped when entering the parking lot.
  6. Determine out how to get back onto an airplane to fly home without a picture ID.
  7. Acquire a new driver’s license and replace anything else that might have been stolen (social security card, insurance cards, gift cards, etc.).

Completing the above list of tasks demands a lot of time and energy.  Now imagine that you are overseas and your passport was stolen, as well.

The silver lining in this story was that my friend (an avid world traveler) had taken a picture of her passport photo page and stored it on her iPad (the only item that wasn’t stolen) just a few weeks earlier.  Having this stored photo ID allowed her to at least take money out of her bank (there was a branch close by her hotel that she could walk to).  In addition, the airlines accepted her passport picture from the iPad as a form of ID, so she was allowed back on the airplane to fly home without her driver’s license.

Being robbed is still going to stink, but below are a few precautions you can take while travelling to mitigate a situation where your identification and/or money cards have been stolen:

  1. Store a picture of your driver’s license and passport photo page electronically where you can access it while away from home.
  2. Keep your plane/train/boat tickets or boarding passes and/or a travel itinerary.  These items are often requested by some governments prior to a new passport being issued.  Follow this link for what to do if you are a U.S. citizen and your passport was stolen.  http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports/lost-stolen.html
  3. Store a digital picture or a copy of any document that proves your citizenship (birth certificate, photocopy of missing passport, etc.).
  4.  Travel with a copy of your marriage certificate, especially if you and your spouse have different names.
  5. Store your credit card and any debit card account numbers, along with the domestic and international phone numbers for customer service.
  6. Remember your international PIN numbers for all credit and debit bank cards when using an ATM machine abroad.
  7. Compile a database of “numbers” to bring on your trip.  These should include:
    1. Embassy phone numbers
    2. Airline phone numbers
    3. Rental car phone numbers
    4. Insurance company phone numbers
    5. Traveler insurance phone numbers
    6. Credit card account numbers
    7. Driver’s license number
    8. Hotel cancellation phone numbers

It is worth taking the time NOW to organize and consolidate all of the information we suggest above prior to leaving your home/country.  Taking these precautions will ensure that IF you find yourself robbed of your wallet or identity while away from home, at least the recovery time will be quicker and less stressful.

Join organizemytravels.com and take advantage of our easy software solutions for storing your important information….accessible from any browser in the world. 


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