One unfortunate night in Milan, my bag was stolen in a taxi. Luckily, it happened towards the end of my trip. Unluckily, my (very expensive) bag contained my passport, my student visa that would allow me to fly back to Dublin, and a lot of stamps to countries I’ve visited over the years.
Needless to say, this was an emotionally traumatic experience.
I love my passport dearly. Besides affording me access to the world, it’s also proof of the best experiences I’ve had in my life so far. From India to Malaysia to the UAE…to Ireland and Sweden and Finland and Italy…the stamps in that little booklet signified my history and love of travel.
At first, I couldn’t believe what happened. It took all of 20 seconds! But soon I realized that crying over spilled milk (or all of my identification) would get me nowhere, so I started to form a plan. This is what I did next – and what you should do if you’re ever in the similarly unlucky situation of losing your passport or having it taken from you:
- Stay Calm
There’s nothing more important than staying calm in a situation like this. A calm mind will help you think through the things you need to do next.
- File a Police Report Immediately
Next, find your nearest police station and file a report. Write out your contact details clearly to make it easier for them to reach you if they find your passport, or if they need more information from you later for the search.
- Contact Local Transport Agencies
Once your police report is filed, contact the local transport agencies. Tell them your passport has been stolen (or that you lost it) and they’ll send a radio message to their taxis, buses, and other transport vehicles to help you find it. If a driver sees the passport in their vehicle, they can contact their headquarters who can then contact you.
- Locate Your Nearest Consulate or Embassy
Contact your embassy and schedule an emergency appointment. (In my case, I just walked to the embassy and knocked on their door to ask for help.)
Your embassy will help you acquire a temporary travel document or issue you an ”emergency certificate” so you can travel back to your country. You may have to pay a fee for these documents.
If you’ve lost money as well, your embassy can help you receive some funds and maybe even food and beverages. They’ll also book your ticket home, though you’ll have to pay the passport authorities for the expenses they incur on your behalf. You can pay this back either in your country’s immigration services or when you apply for a new passport.
*Note: this can sometimes be a long process. To speed things up, you could ask a loved one to book your ticket home and then email it to your embassy. That will save a lot of time and effort for you and your embassy.
- Be Patient
Depending on the documents you request and the speed of your embassy, this whole process can take between one and 24 hours. This time can feel like forever after something as traumatizing as a lost or stolen passport!
Instead of dwelling on what happened, use this time to take a break, hydrate and refuel, get your bags ready, and talk to loved ones. This is not a situation you can prepare yourself for emotionally so pamper yourself to help you get through it.
Keep On Traveling!
The one thing I learned through this experience is the importance of staying calm and mentally strong in troubling times. No matter how well you plan your vacation, things like this can happen. I recently wrote a post on the safety of traveling alone and I still stand by my words. As trying as this experience was, I was still able to enjoy the beauty of Italy and meet some wonderful people while I was there!
Remember, life can throw curve balls anytime, but that’s no reason to stop living. Similarly, situations like this are no reason to stop traveling. Don’t let anything hold you back. Be confident in yourself, keep in mind the best things to do in travel emergencies, and get out there and explore!
Image credit: Matthew G