How to not be like the guy who lost $10 000 in the back of a cab in Thailand

(Photo: iStock)
(Photo: iStock)

American tourist, Jerry Hart can consider himself lucky thanks to an honest cab driver and a very responsive police force. According to The Daily Mail, Jerry was on his way to catch a flight at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand when he left behind something that most of us would really remember not to leave behind. 

Jerry left a bag with $10 000 (R141 648 at $1/R14,16) in cash in the back of the cab. 

Veeraphol Klamsiri, the honest cabbie, found the bag while cleaning his car out and relayed this finding to his local office who got in contact with the police who instructed him to drive back to the airport and deliver the money to a very relieved Jerry. 

This story ended up with everyone very happy but it would be much better if it didn't happen at all. We're all human and it takes no stretch of the imagination to imagine a scenario where you forget or misplace (or worse) your valuables. So read on and see how to stay safe and avoid being a Jerry the next time you're off exploring the world. 

SEE: SARS requirements for declaring valuable goods travellers need to know about

How to keep your valuables safe when travelling:   

  • Make a list of all your belongings and check the list off whenever you leave a place you won't be returning to (e.g. before heading to your return flight at the airport)
  • Centralise the location of all valuables (e.g. hotel safe, locked luggage)
  • Keep your valuables within eyesight. If 'out of sight out of mind' is true then the opposite must certainly be true too.  
  • Moonbags, money belts and fanny packs are your allies in the fight against losing valuables abroad. 
  • Keep all your original documents in a safe place and travel around the area with copies.
  • A good rule to follow is to only bring enough cash with you to cover your first 24 hours in your destination or until you find an ATM. Repeat this when leaving - only take enough cash with you to cover your last few hours before you return home. 
  • Related to the above, limit the amount of cash with you to only as much as you will need for the day/night.
  • Pay for larger purchases with plastic. Even better, make use of mobile payment options and use your smart device. Another great option these days is to keep a prepaid travel card which works like a credit card for withdrawals and purchases and can quickly and easily replaced. 
  • Make sure your bank knows you're travelling abroad so if the worst does happen it can be resolved with less difficulty. 
  • Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance before you leave home just in case the worst-case scenario becomes a worst-case reality.
  • Slightly related to the above, consider bringing a backup card and stashing it separately from your other valuables in a nondescript place like a toiletry bag as a sort of informal insurance.   

SEE: Indonesia, Germany, Kenya: How safe is your next destination?

The above notwithstanding, sometimes fate will just have it that the worst case happens and you find your valuables lost, misplaced or even stolen. In these cases, it is important to keep calm no matter how implausible that might seem at the time. There are ways to deal with such a situation - even without the luck of Jerry. 

Here's what to do if your valuables go missing when travelling: 

  • Act quickly...
  • ...but stay calm, retrace your steps and plan your actions step-by-step.
  • Contact the authorities - police, travel agency, cab company. It is always better to go in person but if this isn't possible - make those calls.
  • Contact your bank and credit card company. Inform them about the situation to avoid unauthorised charges. some banks may be able to wire you money or even send you a new card.
  • Depending on where you misplaced the valuables, contact the relevant organisation (Jerry should have contacted the taxi company).
  • Keep checking everywhere, you may think you know where you lost your valuables but the mind can play tricks when you replay a memory over and over again trying to resolve a problem.
  • Contact your travel insurance provider.

SEE: #TravelNightmares: What to do when you've lost your passport

Find Your Escape by searching and comparing flight prices here. You can also sign-up for the Traveller24 Weekly Newsletter – Subscribe hereOr download the News24 App hereto receive expertly curated travel ideas and deals directly to your mobile.

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