TRAVEL

Lost Luggage, Passports And More Things You Don't Want To Lose On Trips

06/13/2013 08:00 EDT | Updated 06/13/2013 11:57 EDT
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As much as we all love to travel, there’s always the fear something will go horribly wrong. You could miss a flight, catch a terrible flu, or lose all of your belongings.

Of course, there’s always the possibility your trip abroad could go without a hitch but when it comes to travelling, it never hurts to be prepared for anything.

After all, a little extra pre-departure effort can make all the difference, particularly for travelers who’ve lost everything. Sure, trying to prepare for the worst seems like a daunting task at first, but we’ve broken down exactly what to do when you’ve lost your most important belongings and travel documents.

A popular tip is to photocopy all travel documents and pieces of identification. Photocopy the identification page of your passport and license, and write down your credit and debit card numbers including the toll free phone number on the back. Place the originals in your carry-on and the photocopied versions in your luggage.

If you lose the originals, you will still have proof of identification, and you will also be able to call your debit and credit card companies in order to stop any fraudulent transactions on your accounts. Also, leave a separate set of photocopies at your home, in case you lose both bags.

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A tip from Carol Mueller, Vice President of Travel Guard, a travel insurance provider, is that you should pack any items you require on a daily basis (and are not easily replaceable) in your carry-on. For example, prescriptions should always be packed in a carry-on so you don’t need to worry about getting a prescription refill, in the event of your luggage is misplaced at the airport.

For some peace of mind, it’s recommended travellers purchase travel insurance coverage. Travellers may already be covered under a benefits package through their employer, but not all companies provide travel insurance coverage so contact human resources and double check. For everyone else, you can easily purchase travel insurance through your bank, airline, or insurance company.

Most commonly, travellers opt-in for travel insurance to ensure their healthcare costs will be covered in case they experience an accident or injury during their trip. This is a great reason to purchase coverage, but there are more benefits attached with travel insurance.

“Understand that travel insurance is more than just coverage, you have emergency assistance as well. You have access to people who will help you get your trip back on track,” said Mueller.

For those of you who purchase travel insurance, keep in mind that you need to provide specific documentation when filing a claim for lost or stolen items. After the initial panic of losing your belongings, the very next step is to file a report. If your items went missing at the hotel, file a report with the staff, and if they were stolen, file a report with the local police. Keep a copy of the report so you can provide it to your insurance company.

If you don’t know what type of documentation they will need, just call them. Let them know that you need to file a claim, and they will walk you through the necessary steps depending on your situation and which country you’re travelling in.

So you’ve photocopied your important documents, packed your valuables in your carry-on, and purchased travel insurance. You’ve got your bases covered, but let's take this one step further and go item-by-item.

11 Lost Items That Will Ruin Your Trip. Slideshow text follows for mobile readers

11 Lost Items That Will Ruin Your Trip

Travel Tickets

Almost everything is online nowadays, so if you lose a ticket, you can almost always pull up your reservation online or in your e-mail. In the cases where this isn’t possible, contact the issuing airline, railway company or bus line immediately to see if it is possible to replace your tickets. If you’re out of luck, ask your insurance agent if the fare is insured.

Wallet

You shouldn’t be worried about losing your wallet, as much as you should be worried about losing its contents. Nonetheless, the first thing to do is always to retrace your steps. You could’ve very easily have left it on a restaurant table, and a simple visit back to that restaurant will put you out of your misery. If that doesn’t work, you should pull out your photocopied documents and start contacting the necessary banks and financial institutions to notify them of the possibility of fraudulent activity on your accounts.

Identification

Most government-issued documents such as your driver’s license, birth certificate, health card and social insurance card can only be replaced in Canada. If you’ve still got your passport with you, then you can sit tight and worry about replacing the rest of the documents when you return home. If you’ve lost your passport as well, we’ve got another step-by-step guide for you.

Passport

“If you lose your passport while travelling abroad, you must immediately report the loss or theft to the nearest Government of Canada office abroad and to the local police,” says Beatrice Fenelon, a spokesperson for Passport Canada. “Once a passport has been reported lost or stolen it is no longer valid and cannot be used for travel... to ensure it is not used for fraudulent purposes.” Passport Canada also shares this information with the Canada Border Services Agency, the Canadian Police Information Centre and INTERPOL.

You can then apply for a replacement passport by providing all of the documentation and requirements for a regular passport renewal, along with a completed declaration concerning a lost or stolen Canadian travel document. Before your passport can be replaced, Canadian authorities will conduct an investigation into the circumstances of the loss or theft.

Bank Cards

Notify your financial institution as soon as possible if your bank card has gone missing. Luckily, most bank cards can only be used within North America, so if someone has possession of your cards, they most likely won’t be able to use them. To remain on the safe side, notify the institution to ensure no fraudulent activity will take place on your accounts, and obtain a police report as it may be required as proof if the card is used before you can cancel it.

If you need access to your funds while travelling, arrange for a transfer from your bank or other private source using a commercial agency such as Western Union.

Credit Cards

“Keep your card in a safe place, and always be aware of your surroundings when you’re in a new place,” said Carla Hindman, a spokesperson for Visa Canada. Prior to travelling, you should notify your credit card issuer if you will be travelling outside your usual card usage area. You should also make note of the toll-free number to use to contact your card issuer in case your card is lost or stolen.

“It is ideal to record and store your card number somewhere safe like your personal phone or safety box at home for easy reference in case of an emergency,” a senior account executive with MasterCard Canada told The Huffington Post Canada. If an emergency occurs, you should immediately contact your financial institution to report your card lost or stolen. “In Canada, cardholders are protected from fraud by issuer’s zero liability policies as long as the cardholder is acting responsibly and reporting missing cards or unauthorized transactions as soon as possible,” according to MasterCard Canada.

Cellular Phone

The first step when you misplace your phone anywhere is to call it. If someone answers, you can arrange to meet them and get it back. You should also include an “In Case of Emergency” or “ICE” number in your contacts, so the person who finds your phone will know who to call. Next, if your phone has a GPS signal that you can tap into, try it out to narrow down where you may have lost it. Finally, if it is definitely gone and you can’t find it, notify your wireless service provider so they can prevent any fraudulent charges on your account.

Camera

Similar to your wallet, there is no electronic way to track down your camera. It is just a matter of retracing your steps and visiting any “Lost and Found” desks along the way to see if the camera was returned. If you’re leaving your destination, give the hotel reception your contact information in case someone returns the camera after you’ve left.

There’s another fun tip that you can try prior to embarking on your travels, to save yourself in this very situation. On a large piece of paper, clearly write the message “If you’ve found this camera, email me at (insert email address)”.

Take a picture of yourself holding this paper, and ensure this picture shows up on your memory card. People are often curious and it is likely that they will go through your photos if they’ve found your camera. If they do, they’ll come across this photo and hopefully contact you to return your camera.

Laptop

Affix your name and contact information on the laptop, along with a promise of a reward if lost or stolen – no questions asked. According to Microsoft, security experts have advised that these measures can help improve your odds of getting the computer back in the event of a theft or simple mix-up.

If your laptop was within your carry-on or luggage that was misplaced or stolen during your travels, you may be eligible for a reimbursement from your travel insurance provider. However, depending on the value of your laptop, you may not have the coverage to receive a reimbursement.

“Keep in mind, there are limits to policies and you may only be covered up to $750, but $500 for a single item,” said Mueller.

Luggage

If you’ve lost your luggage within the airport, advise the Lost and Found department as well as an airport baggage agent before leaving the airport. You can also contact the Central Baggage Office of the airline you were using.

Many suitcases have a contact card that you can fill out with your personal information in case your luggage is lost. Fill out your name and phone number, but don’t use your home address. You don’t want to broadcast the information that your home may be empty currently, so use your work address or a friend’s address.

“A travel insurance package will generally cover you for any lost, stolen or damaged baggage as well as personal effects. They will also help track your bags down if they don’t show up at the airport,” said Mueller.

Cash

Once your cash is lost, it is generally lost forever. When travelling abroad and using foreign currencies, try not to keep all of your cash in one place. Take the amount that you’ll probably need for the day with you, and leave the remainder in a safe place, such as the safe in your hotel room. This way, you will still have additional cash in an emergency situation.

In most cases, you will be able to transfer funds from your own bank account or another private source in Canada to another country by using a commercial agency. If you are unable to make this transfer, Canadian government offices abroad can help you arrange a financial transfer from Canada.

You can arrange for that transfer by contacting a Canadian government office abroad and providing the information on the source of the funds and where you can be reached. You must also notify the source of funds in Canada that you have authorized the transfer. Consular officials in Ottawa will then make arrangements for a wire transfer, and a consular service fee of $75 will be deduced from the transferred funds.