Last month I shared my Playa Del Carmen travel guide with y’all, and while I had a fantastic time, the first two days were pure chaos because I had lost my passport. Let me just lay out this disclaimer, I am a VERY responsible person. I don’t lose anything and rarely ever forget to do something that I’m supposed to, so losing my passport was never even a thought to me.
I landed in Mexico, sorted through customs and stopped at the duty free liquor store for a bottle of Don Julio in order to begin my birthday turn-up. All I had to do was make it through the last checkpoint and my driver would be outside waiting for me. But of course, I get pulled to the side for a random inspection at the last checkpoint and once I zip my luggage back up, I realize my passport was gone. I immediately feel sick to my stomach. I’m not playing, I could’ve thrown up. So I force myself back through security to ask if anyone had turned my passport in. That was utterly unsuccessful as Mexican security shrugged their shoulders at my questions and shooed me out of customs. I know I just got here but I’m thinking, how in the hell am I supposed to get home? How? How? How?
Luckily, the lady at the front desk of our hotel was willing to jump through hoops to help me figure it out. Within a few hours of checking in, she had called the nearest U.S. Embassy and Consulate, the closest police department since I would need a police report, and a friend of hers who drove a taxi to get me where I needed to go because of course I had no cellular service. Unfortunately, by the time I figured out what I needed to do next, the American Consulate was closed, which meant I had to wait until the following Monday. Fine, I was set to leave that Monday (my birthday) so I would’ve had to suck it up and spend all day braving a line at the nearest consulate trying to get an emergency passport before my 6 p.m. flight. But guess what? That Monday was a Mexican holiday and the Consulate would be closed! ohmygod. I’m never getting home. Let me clarify what this meant… I was going to have to extend my hotel stay, change my flight, miss another day of work during an event week and spend $250 + photos on an emergency passport. Easily an additional $1000 I’d have to spend on a mistake I made and not a pair of shoes. Why me God? Whatever lesson you’re trying to teach me, I get it. I was SO stressed y’all.
Luckily, the following day the sweetest woman from Minnesota contacted me on Facebook telling me she had found my passport and was trying to get it back to me. She literally changed her profile picture to say “Courtney, lost passport?”. We coordinated and I was able to pick it up just in time to make my flight home on Monday. They even greeted me with a birthday card. Won’t He do it? *sidenote we’ve kept in touch and Ann is such a cool lady. She travels often and is a writer too. She even wrote about this exact passport story.
In hindsight, here are some things that would’ve helped me in the event that my passport never turned up that I suggest for anyone traveling abroad –
- Create a contact card to tape inside of your passport that has every form of contact available. Your telephone number, email addresses, social media handles (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram too). That way if someone does find it and contacts you on any of these, you’ll be able to check every time you connect to wifi. Once I got home I saw Ann had also tried to contact me on LinkedIn and Soundcloud just based off of a Google search.
- This may seem extreme, but travel with a paper copy of your passport. It makes the replacement process much easier since the only identification most people travel with is a drivers license and not a birth certificate or social security card. I made enough copies to place in the front pocket of each of my suitcases so I’ll have one no matter which luggage I take.
- On the back of your passport copy, have the number to the U.S. Passport Agency. Even if you don’t have any phone service, the front desk at your hotel will be able to call outside of the country on your behalf. They can tell you (in English!) where to find the nearest consulate or embassy, what time they open, what you will need before you arrive and where to find it.
- If you don’t already have a Passport, when you go to take your passport photos – request copies. They require passport photos in order to get an emergency passport. So instead of having to run around an unknown place looking for a place that takes passport photos, you’ll have two ready to go. Keep these in an envelope with the copy of your passport and you’ll be able to breeze through losing a passport.
- If you’ve lost your passport, don’t panic about long replacement lines or scheduling appointments. All U.S. consulates and embassies take walk-ins for emergencies and will be happy to expedite the process if you can show them a travel itinerary.