Have you ever lost your wallet when traveling? You’re allowed to curse like a sailor. Then, calm down and try the following steps and, hopefully, you’ll find it. Or not. In that case, there are things you can do now to save you pain in the future if it happens again.
What’s in your wallet?
When Samuel L. Jackson challenges me with that question in his Capital One commercials, I feel like one of the patrons he held hostage in the Pulp Fiction diner.
I start to sweat a bit.
I should know what’s in my wallet, right? But, it’s not really a top priority.
Until, of course, you lose it.
I Lost My Wallet And…
Traveling breaks your normal routine and that’s when mishaps occur.
You oversleep and miss a train connection.
Or you drive your rental car the wrong way down a one-way street.
Or you lose your wallet because you leave it in a shopping cart.
Yup. It happened to me.
I was provisioning for a weekend away, grabbed my wallet out of my purse and ran in and out of the grocery store. There was a great hub-a-lub involved in packing the cooler with provisions and I somehow left my wallet in the shopping cart when I stowed it back in the cart corral.
When did I realize my flub? When I stopped ¾ of the way to my destination to buy a cup of coffee and couldn’t find it.
I considered returning home to search for it, but it would be way too late to hit the road again. My friends are ride or die so I knew they’d lend me cash to get through the weekend, so I continued on. But the reel that kept playing in my head was, “Monday is going to suck because I’m going to have to try to figure out what I lost, cancel credit cards, get a new driver’s license, why am I so stupid, who can I blame…”
I pulled over three times and re-searched the car.
Then, I called the supermarket. The manager checked the carts but came up empty.
Then I called home. A Good Samaritan had found my wallet and left a message on my machine. My daughter said she’d pick it up. Thank you…thank you…thank you!
If the unthinkable happens when you’re traveling and you realize you’ve lost your wallet, take a deep breath and try the following tips.
Retrace Your Steps
Reconstruct your steps from the last time you saw your wallet. Did you put your wallet on the roof of your rental car while you struggled to open the unfamiliar gas cap?
Maybe you put it down on the counter at customs when you were looking for your passport?
Or, did you pay for paella and then get distracted by the flamenco dancers?
The closer you can get to the last place you saw your wallet, the better your chances for finding it, whether you dropped it in the grass at the park or left it on a city bus.
Lost Wallet? Check Lost and Found
If you’re visiting an attraction like a museum or theme park and realize you’ve lost your wallet, go directly to the lost and found. Even if you’re wallet’s not there, it might turn up later and, if you’re appropriately frazzled, the attendant will remember you.
Post a Reward
This probably works best if you’ve lost your wallet close to home. Try hanging signs offering a reward for money. Alternatively, if you belong to a community Facebook group, post the information there.
If you have a photo of your wallet, include that too.
Which leads me to my next point.
Things to Do Before You Lose Your Wallet
When I had my wallet back in my hands, I sighed deeply. And then realized there were things I could do NOW to prevent a future disaster.
Inventory the Contents of Your Wallet
Take everything out of your wallet and photocopy all of your cards – front and back. Date it and put it in a file. I marked mine “When Stupid Things Happen to Smart People”.
Stash Cash in Your Car
Find a hidey spot in your car and stick a $20 bill in there. It’ll tide you over if you find yourself in a pinch.
Use a Location Tracker
If you’re a perennial loser of wallets, it might be time to make a lifestyle change. No. I’m not suggesting you invest in a wallet chain. It’s a look…but not one most of us can carry.
Instead, consider investing in a bluetooth tracker like Tile. This app-based product comes in a variety of styles including key fobs, stick-ons and credit card sized.
Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.