Robbed Abroad: What to Do

Photo credit: Matis Jaramillo


What To Do If You're Robbed Abroad

There are few things scarier than the notion of being stranded in a foreign country without your phone or money. Thankfully, when it happened to me in Barcelona, I’d already been living there for a while, and knew my way around enough to get back to where I was staying.

I was super broke at the time, and along with my purse, the people who mugged me also stole the only 60 euros I had in my life, my bank card, my ID, my phone, and the hundreds of pictures in my phone I hadn’t uploaded anywhere else yet. Oh yeah, and my makeup, but I didn’t care about that as much.

However, I handled the situation pretty well after the fact, and it could have been a lot worse.

Speaking from experience, here are a few things you can do to lessen the chances of getting robbed abroad:

Photo credit:  Marco Verch

Photo credit: Marco Verch

1. Don’t walk around in dimly lit areas late at night.

I know this seems obvious, but when I got mugged, I was walking through a park at 3 a.m. with my friend. I thought it was fine, since I wasn’t alone. I was wrong.

Whenever possible, walk with others, in well-lighted areas, and keep an eye on your surroundings. If you’re carrying a purse, keep your hand on it and put the strap across your front instead of just on one shoulder. If you have a backpack, wear it on your front - not at all times, obviously, but when walking around at night or in crowded areas, it’s a good idea.

2. Don’t carry all your cash on you.

Whenever you leave your accommodation, only bring as much cash as you’ll need for the activity you’re about to do. For example, on a night out, only bring as much cash as you think you’ll need for drinks and a cab back to your accommodation if necessary. Leave the rest locked away somewhere safe. Which brings us to...

3.  Lock your valuables away.

Most hostel rooms and hotels have a locker or safe you can store your stuff in. Leave your cash, passport, and any other valuables locked away when you leave the room.

4. Do not bring your passport out with you.

If my passport had been in my purse when I got mugged, I would have been so screwed. Make sure you have an alternate form of ID to bring out with you and keep your passport somewhere safe.

5. Don’t flash your possessions in public.

This is a good idea for life in general, not just for when you’re traveling, because you never know, but if you have a Smartphone or another expensive device, only take it out when you absolutely need to use it. Don’t just walk around holding your phone out, and take a quick look at your surroundings before you do. Not getting your phone stolen is worth your friend Emily back home not getting that Snapchat selfie of you waiting for the train in Prague.

6. NEVER leave your stuff unattended.

Whenever I’m at a bar or restaurant, no matter where I am, I keep all my stuff in my bag and I keep my purse on my lap. If you have to go to the bathroom, take your bag with you! Never set your phone or wallet down anywhere.

7. Keep that guard UP.

If an area feels sketch, take another route. If you see someone eyeing your bag, move away from them. Better safe than sorry.


Photo credit:  colorblindPICASO

Photo credit: colorblindPICASO

And if you do get robbed abroad, here’s what to do immediately after:

1. Cancel your bank card.

When my bank card was stolen in Barcelona, I couldn’t call my bank in California, because my phone had also been stolen. I was able to use someone’s phone when I got back, but it couldn’t make calls - it could only access the Internet when connected to WiFi. So, I Facebooked my poor mother and asked her to please call my bank ASAP to cancel my card.

If your bank card is stolen and you can’t call your bank, use a computer or someone else’s phone to reach out to a trusted friend or family member in your home country as soon as possible and ask them to do it for you.

2. Change any passwords the thieves might have access to.

I had my Apple password written down in a note in my phone - I know, I know, super dumb. When I was able to get to where I was staying and use my friend’s phone, it was already a good 40 minutes after I got mugged, and I saw an email from Apple alerting me that my Find My iPhone had been turned off - so, the thieves had logged in and turned it off. Very clever.

As soon as I saw this, I logged in and changed my password and also erased the phone from the site so they couldn’t do anything else with it.

3. File a police report ASAP!

It probably won’t do much, but it can’t hurt! In the event that whoever took your stuff uses your information to try to steal your identity, it would help for the police to know that there was a robbery. Use a computer or someone else’s phone to look up the closest police station to you and go as soon as you can.

Any tips we might have missed? Share them in the comments! Stay safe out there, ladies!

Robbed abroad pinterest.png

Like it? Pin it!

FTC Logo

We are a team of four feminist travelers coming together from different parts of the world to share with you what we have learned from traveling, living, loving, and exploring all over the world. Join us and tell your story about female solo travel, relationships, mental health, city guides, or whatever else comes to your mind.

Jessica Nemire loves budget travel, nachos, sunsets, and collecting stories wherever she goes. She's been a vegetarian for almost her whole life. Also, if you see a girl somewhere around the world in a cow onesie, there's a good chance it's her. 

Jessica Nemire loves budget travel, nachos, sunsets, and collecting stories wherever she goes. She's been a vegetarian for almost her whole life. Also, if you see a girl somewhere around the world in a cow onesie, there's a good chance it's her.