Every traveller’s biggest nightmare when travelling is having their passport lost or stolen. The thought of being in a foreign country and trying to sort a passport out is a mission.
So here is what happened and what I had to do. While living in London, every chance I got I used it to travel. So that January , it was my friend/housemate’s birthday we decided a weekend break to Zurich would be a great way to celebrate. We chose Zurich , Switzerland because we did not need visas to visit. Weekend package booked with am early morning Friday flight.
The night before ,we stayed up for most of the night waiting to welcome my friend’s birthday. Lots of sugar and very lil sleep was defo not a good combination. At this point in time we were working with a teaching agency and had Working Holiday Visas. On arrival at a cold and wet Zurich airport we were greeted at arrivals but a rather gorgeous customs official. This is important in the story as this was when our Girl’s Weekend away changed totally. Somehow at this point after showing all our paperwork to the customs officer we simply gathered up everything well we thought we did.
Finding our way to our hotel was so fun and we were excited to explore the city. On arrival as per always on check in a passport is required. My friend could not find her passport so I handed mine over so we could get our room. Once in the room we searched frantically for the missing passport.
We went back to the airport to check if the passport was there in Lost and Found but it was not. Off to find a local police station and open a case for the missing passport. At the station we were asked if my friend had copies of the passport and any other Identification on her. We frantically found a payphone and contacted the agency we worked for and got them to fax both our documents including visas and passport copies just in case.
The thought of my friend’s birthday was forgotten as we were on a mission to her an emergency passport. We were told to contact the South African Embassy. In every part of the world , there is an Embassy from your home country who will help you should you get into any difficulty while travelling.
Using an emergency number for the Embassy we managed to get hold of someone to help us. We were told that we needed to go to the Ambassador’s Home the next day bringing with us passport photos and any documentation we had on us. My friend would be given an emergency passport allowing her to leave the country. All this sounded doable and then we heard that then Embassy was in Berne which was a two hour train journey away.
So much for celebrations ,we walked the streets of Zurich until we found a photo machine and decided I too would take a set of passport pics. Not in the mood for much we found a place for dinner before we started planning our journey to Berne the next morning.
While I was showering when we got back to the hotel, I had a funny feeling. This feeling made me rush out of the shower and look for my passport which I had left in the hotel room. To my total horror , my passport was missing. I did the whole crying drama and then my friend reminded me that we were going to Berne the next day for her passport and that I too had everything I needed to get an emergency passport.
This experience is over twelve years ago and since then I have become a well prepared traveller and technology has improved. A few months ago I wrote this post http://spicegoddess.co.za/things-you-need-to-do-before-you-travel/ and it includes tips with your passport.
Keep Calm and do this if ever you have your passport stolen :
- Before you even travel make lots of copies of your passport ,visa and ticket. Put them in plastic sleeves and keep them in your hand luggage as well as your suitcase/backpack.
- Always email yourself copies of your travel documents all scanned.With e-tickets this makes life easier.
- Always carry two passport size photos in your wallet just incase this will save you trying to find a place for pics. And who knows you might meet the love of your life and need to give him a pic of yourself.
- Keep a notebook with the contact details of your Embassy in the place you are travelling to. This will save you trying to explain to the locals especially if they do not speak English.
- Always carry cash to the Embassy as more than often they do not have a machine.
- Give family and friends a set of your documents and travel plans which should include where you will be staying.
Always safeguard your documents when travelling. It can be a mission and be rather costly to replace. Have you had something like this happen to you while travelling ?
Be Inspired !