Ask Kate: What Do I Do If My Stuff Is Stolen?

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What to do if your stuff is stolen while traveling

Getting things stolen sucks.  But if you’re a traveler, it will most likely happen to you at some point or another.  Here’s what to do if it happens to you.

Hi Kate, I just wanted to send you a quick note while I am in London, although the weather is wonderful I have not been having such a great time.

For starters I have come down with a cold, but the thing that I am writing about is my cell phone was stolen! Right from under my nose (not even 2 inches from my right hand). I was sitting having dinner and someone came by with magazines, covered my iPhone and grabbed it. Before I could gather my belongings, he was out the door and gone.

I have gone to the police station and reported it as well will be going to the Apple stores to report it tomorrow, changed all my passwords etc, and contacted home to let them know, but I was wondering as one of your ask Kate’s if you could write about what to do when you are a victim of theft while traveling.

Whether is is something like your cellphone or even wallet, passport etc. I am not sure if you have written about this, but I think (based on my recent circumstances) it would be almost reassuring for others (any myself) to know that it does happen, regardless how cautious you may be and that it is fixable  and how to fix it and continue to enjoy your trip.

For me the hardest part is still trying to enjoy myself. It was always something I worried about and never thought it would happen to me; I am always very careful, I never thought someone would just grab something and run.

I’m so sorry that this happened to you.  But please know that you’re not alone.  Nearly every serious traveler gets robbed at some point.  I’m no different — I’ve been mugged in Boston, pickpocketed in Buenos Aires, and robbed after my shipwreck in Indonesia.

You did the right things.  For now,

What do you do if you get robbed while traveling:

Step 1: If you’re injured, get help immediately.

Step 2: If your credit cards were stolen, call your credit card companies to cancel them as soon as possible.

Step 3: Go to the police and make a police report.  Even if you think it’s unlikely that the person who robbed you will be caught, a police report is necessary to receive compensation from your travel insurance company.

Step 4: Get in touch with your travel insurance company and talk with them about how to proceed.

Travel insurance is vital, and it’s something that I don’t spend enough time talking about here.  In short, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.

As an American expat who spends part of the time in the US but most of the time abroad, I now use IMG health insurance and Clements property insurance.  IMG the cheapest way for me to get healthcare both in the US and abroad (on the condition that I spend less than six months in the US each year), and because it’s health insurance only, I need to supplement it with property insurance.

However, before I became a full-time expat, I used World Nomads, which covers health, property, and travel plans as long as you’re out of the country or 100 miles from home (read the fine print to find out EXACTLY what they cover).  I recommend them to non-American travelers and Americans who have health insurance covering them in the US.

How to Recover From Robbery

It’s easy to sink into despair when something bad happens to you while traveling.  If you get robbed, here’s what to do:

Determine whether you need what was stolen in order to continue enjoying your trip.  There is no way I could travel anywhere without a camera.  If all of my cameras were stolen (let’s hope that never happens), I would buy one immediately, because that’s how much I value having quality photos from my trip.  I very rarely buy souvenirs because I consider my photos my souvenirs.

But if it were, say, my iPad that was stolen?  I’d wait until I got home to buy a new one, depending on the length of the trip.

The good things about Apple products is that the prices are standard internationally, and you can easily get an iPhone in the UK for the same price at home.  If you’re on a wireless plan that will replace an iPhone at a reduced cost, though, that can be an issue.  If an iPhone is hugely important to you for this trip, I suggest you buy a new iPhone in London at full price and sell it for almost full price when you get home (while replacing it with a prorated iPhone you can buy once you get home).

Once you’ve replaced all that you need to replace, try to pick yourself up.  I’ll give you the same advice I gave the girl whose trip was being ruined by heartbreak: throw yourself into activities and exploring and spending time with new people.  Resist the urge to be alone, and do more than you’d usually do on your own.

In time, you’ll be creating more happy memories in new places with new people — and that should life you out of your funk.

Good luck, and I wish you the best.