My eldest daughter who is inter-railling around Europe, having finally got out of Romania (one train a day, always full, so she ended up on a nine hour bus journey where the man behind her puked all the way) she got to Athens where she was robbed.
It wasn’t violent, she was pushed and jostled as she got on a train, and she saw the hand dipping into her bag, but there was three of them, and she had no idea which one had her wallet.
She rang me right away and calmed down. But her wallet was gone, and with it, her only credit card and €100 in cash, as well as her Leap card and library card.
Then came the whole problem of what to do next. She was on her own in Greece with only the money she had the foresight to tuck into her bra, no card and no friends.
I rang her bank to get them to stop her credit card. The bank refused to accept anyone’s word except hers, meaning she had to ring them from a phone she had no way of topping up when she rang out of credit. The number to ring is on the back of the credit card, so it’s a good idea to take a note before the card is stolen.
So I couldn’t report her credit card stolen on her behalf, but surely I could find out how to get her another one, or get her money?
Er no. Everyone I spoke to in the Bank of Ireland told me there was no branch in Athens, and suggested she go to the Irish Embassy for help. The Embassy would lend her money, the bank officials assured me.
Just for the record, the Embassy is your first stop if your passport or travel documents have been stolen. They can issue you an emergency passport if yours has been stolen. They can advise you if you have had money stolen. They do not lend money to everyone who has had her pocket picked.
Check here for the list of Irish Embassies. Just remember that the Embassy is not a bank.
The first thing you need to do if you get robbed is to make a police report. There will be someone in the station who can speak enough English to take the report. Make a point of listing everything that was stolen. It could be the library card which will convict the thief. The police will give you the report you need for your insurance claim.
Luckily, because of the situation in Greece at the moment, my daughter’s hotel has asked her to pay in cash when she arrived, so she didn’t have to worry about that. But she was three thousand miles from home with no card and less than €100 between her and starvation.
Moneygram does not deliver to Greece, but Western Union does. You can send money via Western Union from the post office.
As she is planning to travel from Athens to Istanbul to Moscow and Copenhagen, sending a big wodge of cash didn’t seem like a good idea. It would take her bank at least a week to issue a new credit card, but I had a spare. Getting it to her was the problem.
DHL would certainly send it to her at her hotel in Athens, but would charge €92 to do so. An Post, however, would courier it to her for €32. They even provided the envelope. It arrived this morning and she now has a working card and is looking forward to the rest of her journey.
Tips for safe travel.
- Split up your money. Tuck some into your bra or your socks. Money belts are only useful if they are completely invisible under your clothes, otherwise they just advertise that you are carrying money.
- Keep a second card somewhere else.
- Don’t carry your passport around with you when you are shopping.
- Take note (or photos) of all documents, so that you have passport and credit card numbers.
- Keep a copy of all your documents in Gmail or online, so you can access them even if you have lost all your property.
- Report to the local police as soon as possible, and keep all receipts after that for insurance.
- It’s a good idea to have a second wallet, with library cards and some cash, which you can hand over if you are mugged.
- Don’t let it ruin your holiday.