As those who follow me on Twitter will know, I lost my wallet in Madrid last week. This is getting to be a bit of a habit; you may remember I lost one in Tunisia last year. But, neither experience was too traumatic, on account of the precautions I take.
For starters, always keep your credit card emergency numbers in your mobile phone. This ensures you can report the loss immediately you discover it, and have the card cancelled. The banks tell us it’s hard for the Ungodly to use your plastic if they don’t know the PIN … but there are ways around it, and there’s even the odd egregious clot who writes it down on the back of the card.
I have two credit cards. They’re in separate wallets; one … or even both … might even be left in the hotel safe if I don’t need them immediately. Only carry as much cash as you think you’ll need, again, in two separate places is good.
What made me mad this time was having to replace my driving licence and bus pass. The bus pass is useless outside UK, and I didn’t intend to drive in Spain, so these could easily have been left at home.
Don’t buy expensive-looking wallets … freebies from the bank do just the same job, and are far less ostentatious. And, keep them in a side pocket of your trousers (zipped for preference), never a back pocket. Better still, if you’re wearing cargo pants, a leg pocket. The inside pocket of your jacket is also an option, but only if it can be zipped or buttoned.
You can leave your passport in the hotel safe unless you’re actually travelling internationally, but you can carry photocopies of the relevant pages, if you like. The hassle caused by loss of the actual document doesn’t bear thinking about.
Bottom line is don’t carry your whole life around with you; I swear to God, I used to know someone who always carried her birth and marriage certificates around! Before you leave home, strip your wallet of everything you won’t need and, if you can, carry a ‘back-up system’ in another wallet. And, if you can, stay clear of crowded places; above all, try to look as if you know where you’re going and what you’re doing, even if you don’t.
Two Silly Signs for you this week … the first one from Vivienne Mackie, at http://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2009/09/23/another-french-sign and the one below is mine. We’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel here, and I know you can see this word every time you see an MGM movie. But still …
Oh, and my latest piece is live at http://www.giftedtravel.com/snowdon-mountain-railway
Another tip, given to me by an ex-police officer: If you see a sign saying ‘Beware of Pickpockets’ or words to that effect … DO NOT immediately check that your wallet is still where it should be, This just points out its location to sinners who hang around such places watching for just this!