Unlike me, help your foreign trip go smoothly by heeding these helpful tips

Being pickpocketed and losing your cash or cards abroad is an experience to be avoided

A few simple precautions could ensure you avoid having your holiday disrupted by theft.

A few simple precautions could ensure you avoid having your holiday disrupted by theft.

 

Realising your wallet is no longer in your pocket when you’re standing on a train so crowded you can’t move our arms to check if it’s anywhere else, doesn’t count as a peak holiday experience.

It’s the sort of thing that may happen to men more than women because men are more likely to carry a wallet in a trousers pocket. Women, on the other hand, are vulnerable to having a handbag taken with everything inside including the phone.

So here, from one who knows, are a few tips that might have saved my stuff on a recent trip if I had thought about them at the time:

First, if you don’t need to bring cards with you, leave them at home. I’m talking here about such items as your driver’s license. I didn’t lose much cash but the loss of cards such as this took up time when I got back.

In particular, if you have one debit or credit card on which you pay for a lot of subscriptions or for monthly costs such as tolls, I would strongly suggest you leave that card at home. Sitting abroad getting emails from services that can’t take their monthly payment and having to switch it to another card which the bank then gets suspicious about and blocks is no fun.

Second, safeguard your mobile phone especially. If I had lost my phone as well on the train to Pompeii it would have been a very different holiday and not as pleasant as the one that I ended up having. That’s because services that you might need to log in to from abroad so as to deal with the loss send verification codes by text or email before they let you in. If they send codes by text only you’re in trouble if your phone was whipped.

And of course you need the phone to cancel your credit and debit cards as fast as you can. In my case we got to our destination within 20 minutes of the theft and I was able to cancel everything before anything was lost.

All this might sound like an exercise in paranoia but actually these are simple measures to take

Third, don’t take out your wallet in public in a train station. I might have been identified as a mark when I took my wallet out in the central station in Naples to put two return tickets into it.

Money belt

Fourth, consider using a money belt. My wife carried cash and passports in a money belt. If that cash had been in my wallet and if the passports had been in my pocket I don’t like to think how our holiday experience would have gone, especially since I didn’t know I could get an emergency cash facility after reporting the loss of my debit card. I scoffed at the whole idea of a money belt before – not any more.

If you don’t want to do any of the above, at least split up the cash and maybe consider keeping cash and cards in separate wallets or separate pockets.

Lots of us use PayPal for subscriptions because it’s really simple and easy. If the card you are using for PayPal is the card stolen then you can always try to get PayPal instead take the money from your current account.

Unfortunately, I had ignored those messages that had sat there for ages on the screen asking me to confirm the account, so that didn’t work for me. Lesson? Don’t ignore the messages. Luckily I was able to connect PayPal to my wife’s credit card.

All this might sound like an exercise in paranoia but actually these are simple measures to take and when you’ve taken them you don’t have to think about them again.

Although Naples has a bit of a reputation for this sort of thing and although I got pick-pocketed there, I have to say that I would and will go back there. I have never in my life seen anything like the energy of that city and I want to experience it again.

Next time, though, I will have taken my own advice first.

– Padraig O’Morain (pomorain@yahoo.com, @PadraigOMorain) is accredited by the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. His latest book is Mindfulness for Worriers. His daily mindfulness reminder is free by email.

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