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How to survive the first 24 hours after losing your possessions in a foreign city

Reprinted from Traveltalk 09 Oct 2014
It does happen. Even to those of us who wear neon-green bum bags and those itchy money belts that you have to dig out from somewhere around your knees when purchasing anything. So what do you do after you’ve been robbed overseas?

Keep track of this checklist to ensure that you’ve covered all your bases and can get back to enjoying your travels.

Traveltalk spoke to Travel Insurance Direct’s Phil Sylvester who said travellers should obtain a police report within 24 hours of the incident. It may be a hassle now, but when it comes to claiming insurance, this will make the process a little easier later on, he said.

If you have trouble with the local police or if your passport was among the stolen items, contact the closest Australian consulate or embassy that can help you get a new passport, organise interpreters and offer advice etc.

Run through everything that was taken and figure out what needs to be replaced immediately and what can wait until you get home:

Room Keys
Most muggings are a one-time thing, with muggers happy with whatever loot they scored off you in the moment, but it’s best to play it safe and ensure they can’t come back for more. So if you’ve kept your room key with the room number on it, report it to hotel/hostel staff so that you can be issued with a replacement straight away.

Credit cards
Cancel all your cards immediately. If you’re in a country for a while yet, some credit card companies will be able to replace your card while you’re still there.

If you didn’t separate your money and cards and everything has been taken in one fell swoop, leaving you with nothing, you may need to get a Western Union money transfer from the folks at home (remember to send postcards back regularly to stay on their good side).

Cameras and computers
While your insurance will generally cover stolen items, if you’ll be on the road for some time and can’t wait until you get home for a crucial piece of technology then go ahead and replace it. Speak to your travel insurance provider for more details.

After you’ve gone through all the above, remember to stay positive. Don’t let the whole experience embitter your travels.

More tips for travellers
When it comes to proof of ownership, take a photo of the item, preferably with you in it, and get close up photos of serial numbers. It’s not proof, but it could help with your claim. Store the photos on a device at home (or in the cloud) not on the camera you’re taking away with you – for obvious reasons.
If you use the little safe in the cupboard in your room to store extra cash and other valuables, make sure it’s secure. Those safes come from the factory with a default security code – usually 0000 or 1234 – and some hotels don’t bother re-setting that. Lock your room safe (without anything in it) using your secret code, then check to see if the default codes work. You might be surprised. And make sure they’re actually attached to the cupboard.

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