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How to Lose Your Passport

And completely derail your vacation...or not!

Thanks to Jennifer McCormick Birnstihl from BargainHuntingMama for contributing this post to GoGirlfriend. We’re a community-based travel blog and we welcome submissions from everyone. Whether you’re a budget-baller or a first class only kinda traveler, we’d love to hear from you. Visit our Writer’s Guidelines and learn how you can share your travel advice, stories and adventures!

Suitcases packed. Check. Rental cars, hotels and airline tickets confirmed. Check. Passports in hand. Check...

Living the life of travelLoving the life of travelI often stay at multiple hotels in one trip, flitting from one to another as pass from one conference to another. And leaving something important behind is a constant, niggling fear. Although I've only left inconsequential, replaceable little things behind, I know it's only a matter of time before something big is forgotten.

Jennifer McCormick Birnstihl forgot something very big during her dream vacation to Europe. This is Jennifer's story.

Falling in love with Europe

In 2003 my husband and I were fortunate to take an amazing whirlwind European tour visiting 8 countries in 14 days. Behind the wheel of our rental car, our adventure started in Paris, France and took us through Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein, Belgium before handing over the keys in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

This was my first time overseas and I instantly fell in love with Europe, soaking up the history and beauty of the many places we went. I knew that I would be back...

Exploring SwitzerlandExploring SwitzerlandOn about day 7 we arrived at a sweet little chalet called Switzies in the Swiss Alps where we stayed for 2 nights. After enjoying the majestic beauty of the mountains, we set off for the rest of our tour.

Three days later, I called home to touch base with my parents. I immediately knew something was up as my dad asked if we were OK. "Of course we are," I said, but then he asked me if I knew where my plane tickets and passports were, which I thought was very strange. He then proceeded to tell me the story about how my brother had been awoken to a serious phone call three days earlier from a Mr. S from Switzerland who had found my brother's business card in my wallet.

"Do you know a person named 'insert my name" here"?" Mr. S inquired, immediately causing my brother to assume that he was contacting next of kin and that my husband and I were laying dead in the alps. Mr brother was somewhat relieved to find that Mr S. was only calling to report that he had in his possession my wallet, plane tickets, ID, etc that I had left while staying in his Inn. Panic spread quickly back at home as my brother promptly called my parents, who called my husband's parents who all felt helpless as they had no way to contact us or help. (this was all before cellphones)

Jennifer and her husband in EuropeJennifer and her husband in EuropeFast forward three days when an innocent phone call home to say "Hi Mom and Dad!" turned into a storm of stress. As my Dad told the tale, I tried hard to keep my cool as my husband stood clueless beside me, unaware of our plight. Three days and three countries later, the reality that our airline tickets and passports were in Switzerland as I stood in Germany almost made me sick to my stomach.

Tucked away for safe keeping

Then I remembered that while staying at Switzies I had placed my wallet and important papers in the night table drawer beside my bed to "keep them safe". A feeling of dread washed over me as I also realized that I had NOT taken them out of the drawer before we had left. Oh No - how stupid of me! We now had a major problem on our hands caused by my forgetfulness and now I had to confess my mistake to my husband who had put me in charge of the tickets and passports.

We stood quietly beside the phone booth assessing the situation as I delivered the bad news. I was scared and convinced I had just ruined our trip. What we were going to do now? How would we get home? Would we have to purchase new airline tickets and could we even afford it? I was a rookie traveler and had royally messed up.

Do miracles happen?Do miracles happen?We needed a solution and fast.

After a few minutes, a look of calm came over my husband's face as he retraced his steps and remembered taking the passports out of my travel wallet (without telling me!) and keeping them in his fanny pack for better safekeeping. What a relief, and I wasn`t even mad that he hadn`t trusted me... But we still had the airline tickets to deal with..

A call for help is answered

At first I thought we could have Mr. S courier them to us in our last stop - Amsterdam - but it seemed to be cutting it too close as we flew home in less than four days, and worse yet, we didn't even have an address. We then decided to let an expert handle it and called our travel agent back in Canada. She was incredibly helpful and was able to reissue our tickets for a fairly nominal cost of under $100 for both. All we had to do was check in at our airline desk at the airport and we had no problems. 

A vacation is rescued!A vacation is rescued!I was so relieved and also surprised how easily the problem was solved! I thought for sure we would have to buy new airline tickets but at the time, electronic tickets were new on the scene and the problem was solved electronically. We continued on our trip with minimal worry and felt very fortunate.

A few weeks later, a package arrived from Mr. S including my wallet and important papers so in the end, it was all good but while in the middle of the situation, the stress was overwhelming. I have not yet returned overseas but when I do, you can bet I won't be putting anything in the night stand again!

Jennifer's lessons learned..

1. NEVER EVER place anything in the drawers while at a hotel. For forgetful people like me, out of sight is out of mind.

2. Bring your travel agent's business card with you if possible for emergencies.

3. Let my husband keep all important papers, keys, tickets, ID, passports in his possession while travelling as I have a propensity for misplacing things.

About Jennifer McCormick Birnstihl

Jennifer McCormick BirnstihlJennifer McCormick BirnstihlJennifer McCormick Birnstihl is a freelance writer who loves telling stories. A married mother to three beautiful children, she is also a blogger, bargain lover and pop culture junkie with a weakness for reality television and potato chips. When she catches her breath from domestic goddess and mommy duties, she enjoys scrapbooking, travel and dreams of travelling the world one day. 

She writes a lifestyle/bargain blog called Bargain Hunting Momma where she shares her passion for saving money, affordable family fun and 'living large live on less' with the world. She also writes a general blog called Gemini Momma where she shares her love of story telling and observations on life.

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