All-time worst travel scenarios (and how to get out of them)
Of course we hope an NYC cabbie never drives off with your valuables! But if he does, or if you crash your rental car, end up in a foreign jail, or… well, you get the picture: We can help!
3. In addition, always have a printed copy of your reservation confirmation to show upon check-in, in case they can't find you in the system.
4. It's a good idea to carry relevant phone numbers on you, too, Hockin says, including numbers for the travel agent you booked through. "Have them written down somewhere, not just in your phone," she says, "because this is just the situation where your phone battery will decide to die."
YOU LOSE YOUR WALLET
You're digging into tapas at a restaurant in Madrid when you realize your purse is no longer hanging on the back of your chair. Inside? Your wallet and every single money-retrieving possibility you had (cash, ATM card, credit cards—all gone).
How to Cope
Don't panic, Hall says. Get to a place where you can access the Internet or make a phone call—perhaps a hotel lobby or library—and immediately call your bank to cancel your credit cards and report your items missing. This way, you won't be responsible for any charges that might show up. It's highly unlikely that you'll be able to get your bank to send cards to you while you're traveling, so you need to find alternative methods to access cash. "The old-style way to get money that's still the most effective, when all your cards are gone, is to have someone from home wire you money via a service like Western Union," he says. (Note: You will be required to produce some form of ID to pick up money that has been wired to you.)
The State Department's Overseas Citizens Service can also help get funds to you by setting up a trust account so they can be forwarded your way.
3 Tricks to Avoid the Problem
1. Before you leave, order a backup ATM card from your bank and store it in another place (perhaps one in your wallet and another in your hotel safe). You'll still need to cancel the card if the original is stolen, but you'll at least have a way to withdraw cash before you do so.
2. Have a printed sheet of your bank-account numbers and credit-card and bank phone numbers in your luggage so that if your wallet is stolen you'll have the necessary info to report to the companies. (Hall suggests throwing each of the numbers off by one digit to protect yourself in case someone else finds the list.)
3. In crowded urban areas, consider wearing a money belt under your clothing to store the most important credit cards and ATM cards.
YOUR CHILD GOES MISSING
It's a hot summer day at a theme park, but your blood turns ice cold when you realize your 6-year-old has vanished into the throngs.
How to Cope
Keeping calm seems impossible at a time like this, but Nancy A. McBride, national safety director of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, stresses that it's more important than ever to remain calm. "Be focused on where you are and get the local people to help you," she says. "If you've done a cursory search and still can't find your child, don't hesitate to find local authorities and report your child missing." If you're at a public venue, she says, the situation has mostly likely happened before and authorities probably have a plan in place for what to do. After enlisting local officials to help in the search, notify the U.S. embassy or consulate about what has happened, Bernier-Toth says. "While we don't have jurisdiction outside of the U.S., we will work with local authorities to make sure they're investigating and taking the necessary actions," she says.
4 Tricks to Avoid the Problem
1. First, give your child an ID card with emergency-contact numbers and your cell number (make sure your phone works where you're traveling), McBride says.
2. When you get to a venue, take time to point out a uniformed person or other official person (even someone like a gift-shop employee, she says) to your child as someone they could turn to in the event they were separated from you.
3. Emphasize to your child how important it is to stay together, McBride says, but if they do get separated tell them not to wander far since you'll be looking for them. Assigning a meeting place to gather to in the event of a separation is a good idea, too.
4. Finally, snap a photo of your child on your phone before you set out, so you know exactly what they're wearing.