What To Do When You’ve Been Robbed While Traveling

What To Do When You’ve Been Robbed While Traveling

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Any seasoned traveler will eventually run into some sort of problem. When you have all your possessions in a suitcase or a backpack, getting robbed abroad while traveling can be devastating. However experienced you are, such an incident will rattle the best of us. The thing is – you rarely get the full picture on social media. Once it’s done, people just play it off in an all too casual, “Sooooo….I got [insert misfortune] today” type of post or just ignore it completely and forge on with posts of pretty photos. It’s not meant to be paranoid or sound parental, but it’s good to talk about the bad stuff and those experiences in detail, so you’re better prepared for it.

Accidents and bad stuff happens can happen when you travel.

bleeding from glissading accident

I’ve lost things, I’ve gotten hurt and I’ve had things stolen, but luckily I’ve never been robbed directly. Even if you’re not drunk and flaunting your wealth, just being a foreign tourists makes you a target for opportunistic crime. From the thief’s point of view, you must have enough money if you’re traveling, and in a way they are right. You’re probably carrying at least a pretty decent smartphone, possibly a nice camera, and in cash-only type of countries, you’ve probably withdrawn at least a good chunk of cash after your latest ATM visit.

Realistically, you’re not going to have much luck retrieving any of the things you’ve lost – even if you go to the local authorities and report the crime. Chances are you’re not around long enough for them to do anything, and from my friend’s experiences, they simply just don’t care enough. Especially in places with many incidents of petty crime, no one is going to launch into a man-hunt to retrieve your wallet or phone – unless it’s easy enough.

Don’t Resist Or Chase

I hate the idea of meekly backing down, but in that flight or fight type of moment, you are in shock and your thinking might be compromised. Your possessions are never worth getting hurt over. You don’t know the mindset or desperation of the thief/assailant. You also may not know the local laws. If you fight back, and somehow come out on the winning side and hurt the a**hole who started it, there’s a chance that you’ll still have to explain yourself to the authorities depending on the outcome. Stay calm and take in the situation so that you can give as much detail as possible when you go to the authorities.

File A Police Report

This will come in handy and almost always required if you need to file a claim for the travel or equipment insurance (that I hope you’ve bought and strongly recommend) that you have. This will be your best way of recouping your losses. Give them as much detail as possible and get everything documented in writing. It’s better to get some kind of seal signature or way of certifying that the report is legitimate and not something that you can just write-up on the computer yourself.

If possible, go with a local person, who can better translate for you and explain the process. Some countries will have more complicated paperwork, so it’s best to know what you are agreeing to and signing.

That being said, don’t expect miracles or hold out hope for most petty crime. Some cities will have many similar incidents, and the local police may or may not care about you “rich” foreigners who can afford the losses. I know it’s not fair, but it’s just the truth. This is not true of every place, nor do I want to suggest that the justice system there does not carry itself with pride. Just manage your expectations.

Document Your Valuable Possessions

It’s good to have proof and some kind of paper or digital trail of the things you own and have now lost. I like to lay out all the items I take with me and take a photo of it with my phone when I get to my first destination on my trip. Most phones will have built in GPS data, so it proves that you had these items with you AFTER you’ve left your home. For more expensive items, I take individual closer up photos to show the conditions they are in. Just in case, I also take a selfie with all those items on the floor. It’s a good practice and gives you photographic evidence along with time and location.

Keep this ready accessible, because it will also help with your police report to show exactly what your missing items look like, and that they actually belong to you.

Do Not Go After The Thief Yourself

So you’ve turned on “Find Your iPhone” and somehow you’ve got a ping-back with the location. Screenshot that immediately and go to the authorities. Follow their procedure. Do not go after the item yourself and put yourself into a situation you are unsure about.

Let me know, have you ever been robbed on your travels. Share your story in the comments. I’d love to hear how you dealt with it.

Updated on September 13, 2020


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