When Your Brain Falls Out Overseas…..

Rule #1 (really, the only one): Don’t panic. I barely ascribed to this simple tenet when I recently somehow, inexplicably, managed to lose my wallet on my first full day in Copenhagen, the first of an eleven day trip. But, once I realized the unfathomable actually did happen, I was thankfully able to maintain my composure with the help of some indescribably kind Danes.

Being that I am inarguably OCD, I rarely lose anything due to my somewhat (and shush, those who know me personally) mechanical habits. In addition to my naturally compulsive ways, I’m also typically incredibly fastidious when it comes to cautionary measures when traveling. Despite these tandem traits, somehow, my wallet disappeared from my possession at some point between Hotel Danmark near City Hall and my arrival at Amalienborg Palace, even given the fact that I didn’t use any money during that short period of time. I was astounded upon my attempted retrieval of my wallet at the Palace in order to take out a Krone coin to pay the deposit for the locker at Amalienborg, that my wallet had evaporated from my backpack. I kept taking deep breaths, optimistically and unrealistically believing it had to be there somewhere…in another pocket or underneath my research papers. But, lo and behold, it was nowhere to be found. To this moment, its disappearance seems to have been the work of aliens or caused by a break in the fabric of reality. More likely, it might have fallen out when I fetched my umbrella or hat on that fateful, rainy day. My only thought is that I was more careless than usual due to the rain and my attempt to rapidly employ my umbrella during a rain shower. Still, it boggles my mind as to how my bright pink wallet could have jumped out of the bag without my attention being grabbed.

One might suspect the work of gypsies who are so frequently at the root of European pick pocketing schemes… But in this case, I can’t believe that to be the reasoning for my wallet’s disappearance, since one thing I know is that I never, ever allow anyone close enough to reach into my bag (unless they have 10 foot long gumby-like arms). Plus, unlike many a Euopean city, Copenhagen’s gypsy presence was somewhat minimal during my visit. Regardless of what precipitated my wallet’s departure, it was gone.

Once I came to the reality that my wallet, along with my Visa and my bank card were no longer in my possession, and had the initial inclination to fall into full panic mode, one of the Amalienborg museum’s managers, whose name I believe to be Mette, stepped in to attempt to assist me. She immediately must have noticed the blood drain from my face along with the onset of hyperventilation and offered me a seat and a drink of water to help me maintain my composure. She helped me call both my bank and credit card companies to cancel both cards and attempt to request emergency replacement. My bank tried and failed (as I later received an email advising me that my replacement card would be delivered to my hotel the day after my cruise sailed from Copenhagen, even though I told them of my sail date and time). My credit card company was a nightmare to deal with, as their computer system was apparently down when I called and the customer service representatives were of little help.  I was told to call them back in two hours, but despite being kept on hold for an exorbitant amount of time, they later told me the system was still down and to call back in another two hours. When I did, I as again put on hold repeatedly, only to be told after being made to wait for an incredibly long time that I’d have to call back yet again since the system was still down and they couln’t complete the request if I wasn’t on the line. During this miserable ordeal, I did encounter incredible kindness by the museum workers, including Mette, in both Amalienborg and Christiansborg Palaces who helped me make phone calls, allowing me to hog their phones during my long hold times perpetrated by my Visa card provider. I was fortunate that I did keep my Copenhagen Card separate from my credit and bank cards and cash, so I was able to use public transportation and enter attractions without having to outlay money again. I was absolutely floored by the kindness of the Danish museum workers at both Palaces, not only with their concern, patience and offering of suggestions to find a way to minimize the effects of my folly, but especially with Mette’s kindness and concern for my wellbeing. She went as far as to offer me cash in case I needed anything in the immediacy. I explained to her that despite the inconvenience caused by my carelessness, I at least was astute enough not to carry all of my finance modes with me. As is my travel habit, I carried only one credit card with me that day. What upset me the most about this episode was my mistake of carrying my bank card with me, even though I had taken out a small amount of cash upon my arrival at Copenhagen Airport. Normally, once I take out cash, I leave my bank card behind at the hotel along with my extra credit cards and passport.

At the end of the day, the worst part of the mishap was the amount of time spent on hold with Visa, which turned out to be for naught since they were unhelpful and inefficient. So for those of you who may not be the most experienced travelers, and for those of you who are who can use a little primer that would have served me well in this instance:

  1. Never carry your a passport with you when traveling unless absolutely necessary for identification purposes. Fortunately, I left my passport behind at the hotel. TIP: Always take a photo of your passport and email it to yourself to an account you can retrieve easily just in case you ever do lose your passport, so you will have the document information available in the unfortunate event the need arises. It’s also a good idea to carry a hard copy of your passport with you.
  2. Only carry one credit card with you; leave additional cards properly secured in your hotel.
  3. (This is where I failed this trip in a way that I normally wouldn’t have.) Once you withdraw cash in the local currency from an ATM, lave your bank card properly secured in your hotel with your additional credit cards. If you need more cash than you originally withdrew, it’s worth the extra trip back to your hotel to avoid the possibility of losing your bank card along with your credit card. I knew better than to carry my bank card after making the cash withdrawal, but since I’d never fallen prey to this happenstance, I didn’t adhere to what I know to be best practice.

At the end of the day, this unfortunate happening could have been much worse. In all of my travels, this was the first significant solo trip I’ve taken (more on that to come), so that made this incident more impactful, as, obviously, had I been traveling with a companion, there would have been the option to have my travel buddy provide additional financial back up. But all said and done, my carelessness was not end of the world stuff. And to end on a positive note, I have to count my blessings as to how fortunate I was to encounter such caring staff members of both Amalienborg Palace and the Christiansborg Palace Ruins who offered the excessive assistance, and, more importantly, altruistic kindness…the type that makes one once again believe that there is much good in the world (well, at least in Denmark), when at other times, such an inkling might not seem plausible.


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