Losing your wallet while on the road during an RV trip. It was not something I had thought much about. Until it happened!
The day started normally enough. It was near the start of Week 2 in my long, long RV trip. I stopped for gas, got back in the truck and motored away toward my next destination.
I stopped for fuel again about 125 miles down the road. That’s when panic set in.
I reached into my purse for the smaller change purse that contained my credit cards and driver’s license and it was not there!
I searched everywhere in the truck. The small leather pouch was nowhere to be found. Somehow it either fell out at the last stop or my pocket was picked at the previous stop.
Some factors were in my favor. Nonetheless, I spent the next few hours in automated phone hell trying to get everything sorted out.
However, I discovered that I could have made things easier on myself, had I prepped in advance… just in case.
It could have been worse
What was most in my favor in this unfortunate situation was that I did not lose my ENTIRE wallet. That really would have been a nightmare to deal with, including AAA, health insurance, my Mexican residence card, several credit cards and debit cards, and more.
Thankfully, I had put my business and personal credit cards along with my driver’s license, and about $20 cash, in a small leather pouch for times when I did not want to carry a purse.
I was lucky. I did not lose much cash and I still had my ATM debit cards in another place, so I had access to money.
The biggest heartbreak was my brand new lifetime National Parks pass, which was also in the pouch. I had only used it once.
This is something I will replace, as it is an incredible bargain. If you are a senior, $80 for the lifetime pass gets you half-price camping spots at federal campgrounds as well as free admission to all national parks for everyone in your vehicle!
Dealing with the aftermath of losing your wallet while on the road
Turns out it was a wise thing to not always carry around all the cards you won’t need on a particular journey. Or all of your cash in one place.
Likewise, I highly advise travelers to edit the content of the wallet they carry day-to-day to the bare minimum.
Credit card companies are easy to deal with and will put an immediate stop to card activity. As I had past billing statements in my RV, I had the numbers to call. But if I hadn’t, it would have been that much more difficult (see tips below). Credit card companies will also express mail you replacements.
We checked, and whoever had found my cards, had not used them. I arranged for new cards to be sent to my friend’s house in Colorado, where I would be the following week.
The DMV on Friday afternoon proved far more difficult. Getting through to a party who could help with my dilemma proved impossible.
As much as I didn’t want to, I drove on without a driver’s license, vowing to deal with it as soon as I reached my next destination.
The following Tuesday things at the DMV had calmed down. I quickly got through to a live person and the problem was solved.
While the DMV will not mail out a duplicate license for security reasons (at least in California), you can get a paper certificate that will be a suitable stand-in until you can get back to your home state to get the license replaced.
Tips for dealing with and preventing a lost wallet while on the road
My experience with losing my wallet while on the road could have been much, much worse had I not implemented most of these tips. However, it could have gone smoother had I implemented all of them.
In fact, had I double-checked for my wallet before pulling out of that gas station, perhaps none of this would have been necessary.
- As stated above, NEVER put ALL of your cards, IDs, and cash in one place. Only carry with you what you need.
- Keep a list of credit card and card account numbers, and the numbers to call should they ever be lost. Keep this in your RV separate from your wallet.
- Keep a photocopy of your driver’s license in your RV. Or have a photo of it on your phone.
- Check to make sure your wallet is still with you before hitting the road after paying for things like fuel, food, tickets, etc.
- Keep your wallet in a place where pickpockets cannot get to it, and stay aware of your surroundings, especially in large crowds or when interacting with strangers.
I never gave this a thought, but great information and I’m definitely going to follow this advice. It would be nice if whoever found the wallet returned it.
My husband did the same thing in Alabama. The next morning we had a knock on door and landscaping crew had found his drivers license, passport on side of road. I guess he left it on side of truck and it fell off. Rest was cut up by lawn mower. It was crazy. Lucky I had my bank card and such but had to call bank and get new one mailed to our next destination..just a nightmare. When I get out to pump gas, I take only my card out to pay. Not wallet. If husband gets out I ask where is wallet before we drive off.
Add small fireproof safe and put your copies in it, along with emergency cash. Cash is king.
years ago i did much the same thing…left my wallet with credit cards laying on the gas pump at a flying j off i-75 in florida. about 45-min later my office back in illinois called and said that someone had found my wallet. huh? so we pulled over and, yup, my wallet was not where it should be. but how did the finder know where I worked? then i remembered i kept my business card in my wallet. my office gave me the fellow’s number, I called him, arranged a meeting, picked up my wallet and gave the good samaritan $50 to express my gratitude,
Lost mine one or two times. Now I have a small key case with slots for my cards and a few small bills. If I loose it I can’t go anywhere since my keys are attached to the “wallet”. I know I am close to where I lost it. So far that’s worked for me. Great idea to photo everything, will do that today.
I also put a “Tile” in my wallet. They make cc sized ones. Only time I’ve ever “lost” it was when it fell way forward on our coach’s dash out of sight. The Tile’s sound allowed me to “find” it. I’ve got Tiles on nearly everything. Even my bicycle.
My husband lost his wallet in Texas while traveling from Michigan. Like you it was easy to replace the credit cards. It wasn’t terrible to replace his driver’s license but we needed a fax machine. Local library to the rescue. We were worried about his other cards so he signed up for life lock. When we got home several weeks later there was a message on our land line. The wallet and money was found by the caller’s granddaughter. We told him to keep the $$ (it was under 100) and to mail it back to us. A few days later all was good.
I have a file of photos on my phone for everything that is in my wallet. Even pictures of my license plates. How many times has that saved me when checking in to a campground and they ask what is you license plate number. Everything. Insurance cards, medical cards, drivers license, plate numbers. Also, I have a separate wallet I use when traveling. Only one credit card and some cash. And I keep my wife’s wallet separate also with her credit cards.
Wow. We have travelled extensively and always follow these tips particularly when out of country. But my husband and I just looked at each other and said “wow! “. We immediately started “fixing” our poor security. Thanks for a very timely article
We have Capital One credits cards. Their app allows you to turn off each card if it is lost. Great feature if you find the card later and it hasn’t been cancelled yet. We also use Apple Pay for most of our purchases which reduces the number of credit cards we carry. We also have copies of the cards and electronic access to account information if needed.
I used my iPhone to take closeup pictures front and back of my drivers license, credit cards, etc., everything of importance in my wallet, then created a note in the Notes app and added all the pictures. Finally, I password locked the note. So, should I lose my wallet, something I have never done in 75 years, I can quickly show my ID and have all the numbers to call about the credit and debit cards, etc.
I like the idea of putting pics in a note. I didn’t know you could lock notes. Can you lock just that single note?
On an iPhone, at the top right corner of the note there is an icon of three dots in a circle. Click it and you get options of what to do with the icon, locking it is one of them. (If you forget the password you can’t open it)
I don’t know if it can be done on other systems.
Some good advice I’d never thought about. Thank you!
Great advice. Thank you.