Ever watched a television documentary where someone has lost their passport and you think that would never happen to me I take better care of my important belongings? Guess what, it happened to me! Unexpectedly of course but after over 24 years of adult traveling on a simple short trip to the Netherlands on the 5th August I lost my passport.
There was nothing special about this journey, no rush, no delays, wasn’t our first trip to the Netherlands, it was just a normal 1 hour flight from Luton to Netherlands to drop off my 2 kids for a weeks holiday with my sister. So here’s what happened, whilst waiting outside the airport for the hotel shuttle bus my sister noticed that the zipper on my tote bag was open and she advised me to close it in-case something fell out. I casually sat down and thought now is a good time to put some flyers the kids picked up in the airport in my bag when I noticed the new funky passport cover I used was not in the bag. At first I looked around me in-case I had put it beside me, my pockets then I emptied the small bag to find 2 kids passports and a wallet only. Sheer panic overtook me, where is my passport? I looked at the kids hands, looked in their pockets, their shoes and at one point I evan ruffled though my hair (don’t ask why I thought my passport was in my hair) I started talking to myself at the same time racking my brain it was right, did someone brush past me, did someone open my bag, what else is missing? I cannot have lost my passport I am a group travel organizer I arrange manage trips with ladies, heck I don’t loose valuable items like a passports? That’s for people on Tv that don’t pay attention.
No –one every prepares for their passport to get lost and off course the first thing that crossed my mind was, oh my goodness what if my passport has been picked up by a shady character, they will have all my details, they can commit crimes in my name, they can travel in my name, do airport staff of immigration really look at the face on a passport, wait a minute how do I get home I need to be back at work tomorrow Monday morning.
My mind racing I recounted we landed at Schipol, passed through immigration, placed my passport in my bag then waited for our luggage.
We did not have much luggage I had a sling back tote with a zip and our 2 cabin bags were taken into easy jet cargo to free up space so really there was no other place I would have placed the passport except my tote bag but the passport is not in there. I don’t understand how has this happened. I am very very careful when I travel and am good at giving advice on how to keep safe through travel but here I was with 2 kids and no idea where my passport was. I always have a copy of my current passport in my emails under a code but this was a Sunday no government office is open are they. What about the visa’s for the countries I am travelling to next month oh God I need to get a new visa for China I have a private group to go with, who would go with them if I can’t get an emergency appointment, forget next week’s trip with the husband that money is now accounted for but yes my travel insurance will pay but the inconvenience and the excess to pay, I wonder if I can get back to England with my drivers licence (all thoughts running fast in my mind at this stage).
I remember my sister calmly talking me through some steps I usually talk people through. She said walk back the way we came and check the floor first then of course the airport information desk or lost and found. In a daze I wondered back though the airport looking downwards. Occasionally looking upwards at people’s faces with suspicion, have they picked up my passport and pocketed it. I walked slowly carefully looking around until I was about to enter the arrivals gate – you know the one that says no entry, I was going to enter I did not care but just as I was waiting for a passenger to come out so I could get back in, out comes a tall dutch police officer holding my passport – it was mine I know its mine, I was using a new funky cartoon passport cover he was not looking at me he was trying to read the African surname name I guess. I start shouting at him, its me its me here, here, he looked down at me did not say anything and I repeated my name, date of birth, passport number to him, he laughed and said okayyyy but no attempt to give me back my passport, another panic I quickly remembered I had locks when that passport photo was taken and I was just about to pull off my wig when he said well what happened? I quickly told him I must have been distracted with my two boys we had an early flight been up since 4:30am from Luton etc then he said Ah yes we saw on the system you were on Easy jet I was just taking your passport to information desk and then the whole of Schiphol airport would have known you have lost your passport when they call out your name (his attempt at humor). I have never smiled so widely as he handed me back my passport I smiled, thanked him and thanked God gosh that would have been a hassle. Thank the lord the passport was lost in the airport area with camera’s if this had happened outside who knows. Thank you to my sister Heather for prompting me to close the zip on my bag. I still cannot pinpoint how this fell out without me noticing but I am eternally to have this bag.
Lesson learnt from this experience: MAKE SURE YOU FULLY ZIP UP ANY BAGS/PURSE/HOLDALL THAT CARRIES YOUR PASSPORT AND IMPORTANT DOCUMENTATION WHEN YOU TRAVEL
So here’s my passport i.d travel tips for prior or in the event this ever happens to you
- Always keep on email a copy of your passport page with the important info
- Always have a secondary form of identification drivers licence etc in a separate wallet
- Take time to memorize your passport number in the event there is no internet access
- Stay calm and remember where you last used/had your passport including the time ,trace back your steps to where you last saw your passport/documents
- Make an official report to airport/hotel/authorities in the county visited and your consulate
- Make an official report to the police obtain a police reference number you will need to provide this in most countries to obtain a temporary travel document, your travel insurance company will also require this in the event you need to make a claim
- I recently found out you dependant on airline country you can actually fly on a copy of your passport provided you have the necessary police reports however, you will need this signed with the police/customs/country so having a copy passport on file will assist in the process* I will put a disclaimer that not all countries will accept this please check with your airline.
This is an account of my personal experience and this incident occurred on Sunday the 4th August 2019 at 9:30am, Schipol Airport.
No un-authorised reproduction of this work can be used without express authority & consent from writer/publisher Becky Chikaura.
Passport cover can be purchased here