After 27 countries it finally happened, my first experience with theft abroad. Not exactly how I imagined my 2017 starting off. The single most important document you have while traveling was gone after a night out in Rome. Yes I’m talking about my passport. First of all I know what you’re thinking, “she went out with her passport?!?” Don’t worry I’m thinking it too. Being somewhat of an experienced traveler you’d think I’d be smart enough to not bring my passport out. Like seriously, what is this amateur hour? Sometimes (very rarely) you do need ID to get into bars, but that’s what a driver’s license and passport cards are for. Regardless of my own stupidity there is no excuse for someone to steal from you, but shit happens. Especially in Europe.
Friday January 6th, 2017
My friend and I took the train from Rome to Florence. It had been such a good day. A day filled with gelato, sightseeing, steak Florentine and wine. Ok, lots and lots of wine. It was time to take the train back to Rome and instead of relaxing like normal humans we decided to keep the party going. Little did I know the night would end with me ugly crying to the Italian military about how my passport was stolen. Did I mention how hot they were? No? Ok well if you’ve been you probably know what I mean. And if you haven’t I just gave you another reason to go to Italy. You’re welcome. And when I saw ugly crying I mean like Kim Kardashian status (if you don’t know what I mean by that Google it). When we got back to the apartment we still continued to drink… Getting ready for our last night in Rome while sipping on some more prosecco. At this point the only thing I should have been sipping on was water. But YOLO right? Also if you’re keeping tabs I now had red wine and prosecco in my system, a recipe for disaster.
The night continued at my favorite bar in Trastevere. One that I had frequently paid a visit to while I was studying abroad in Rome two years ago (sorry mom and dad). Knowing the bartender and making new friends that were generously giving out shots did not help my situation whatsoever (wine + prosecco + shots, I’m getting sick just thinking about it). So as you can imagine by the time I was leaving the bar I was pretty drunk. I’m not creating a good look for myself, I know. An altercation between my friend and I caused someone to pull us apart and we ended up heading off in separate directions. Somehow within the two minutes this took place my wristlet was taken and all I was left with was the strap around my wrist. The panic was almost instant as I realized my clutch was gone and so was my passport… I was now by myself, drunk, no form of ID, no keys to my accommodation and a dying phone. Definitely worst case scenario and probably one of the scariest situations I have been in while traveling. My only saving grace was knowing where I was (thank you study abroad) and knowing the military was near by. I ran up to the soldiers having a panic attack, screaming in my half-assed Italian that I had lost my purse and passport. They gave me a portable charger and tried to calm me down. Amongst my drunkenness I then decided it would be a good idea to call my family back home and stress them out for the night, horrible I know. I was going to call them regardless, but now was definitely not the time. I stayed with the military for about two hours crying on and off until the police finally came to drive me back to my apartment. As bad as this sounds I almost felt I would have been safer walking home alone than riding alone with the two male Carabinieri that picked me up. I breathed a small sigh of relief when I made it back into my apartment and locked the doors.
Saturday January 7th, 2017
It was close to 6 am when I finally got back into my apartment. My sleepless night continued with countless phone calls to friends and family back home in the states and the U.S. embassy in Rome. Of course all this happened on a Friday and guess what’s closed Saturday and Sunday… If you guessed the embassy, you are correct!! Just my luck right? I was supposed to fly home Sunday afternoon, but that clearly wasn’t going to happen. I spent all day retracing my steps and even took a trip to the embassy in hopes for a miracle. After speaking with the U.S. officer on duty over the phone, I felt a little better when he told me I would be able to get a new passport within an hour on Monday. It was now time to start my search for a new flight home. The cheapest nonstop flight from Rome to New York Monday afternoon was $1,800…. for one-way!! I’ve never even spent that on a round trip flight, but for someone who wanted to be home as bad as I did I was realllllllly close to booking it. I took a second to think and then used my travel brain. I looked up roundtrip flights from FCO to JFK figuring it would be cheaper, and it was. $1,400 cheaper, thank you travel brain. Of course a cheaper flight comes with sacrifice, and by sacrifice I mean a 12 hour overnight layover in London. I know you’re thinking that’s no sacrifice, 12 hours in London sounds good right? Not so much.. I’ll explain later.
Now between no sleep the night before and wandering around all day, exhaustion had really set in… It was back to the apartment for some much-needed rest and hydration.
Sunday January 8th, 2017
Monday January 9th, 2017
When my alarm went off at 6 I was already awake. I barely slept as my anxiety kept me up tossing and turning all night. The embassy would open at 8 am and I wanted to make sure I was one of the first ones there. I jumped out of bed and started getting ready. I knew I would be taking a new passport picture so I had to make sure I looked my best. My old passport photo was awful, so if anything good came from this it was the fact that I would be able to take a new one. At first when my passport was stolen I felt alone. I felt I was the only one going through this, so I was surprised and weirdly felt a sense of comfort when I saw 3 other people trying to get a new passport as well. After filling out my application I started talking to this one woman. She told me that her entire wallet was stolen and the group she was with unfortunately had to leave to go home. She was alone with little to no money and no form of ID other than a copy of her passport. I quickly realized that even though my passport was stolen my situation could have been a lot worse. I luckily still had my debit card, emergency credit card, NY state ID and cash. Over an hour after arriving at the embassy I had my new temporary passport! You can imagine my relief when they handed it to me. I honestly almost cried… and maybe I did… just a little. I hugged my new friend goodbye and headed to my hotel to make sure I had my shit together and of course to call my family and tell them the good news. I WAS COMING HOME!!!
I walked around for a few hours, had some lunch and then it was off to the train station and to the airport. Time to start my 23 hour journey home…. yikes.
I boarded my flight to London and at this point I wasn’t event thinking about the 12 hour layover from hell I was about to endure, I was just happy to be on my way home. Well that happiness was didn’t last very long. Since I was having the best luck ever on this trip (total sarcasm) I arrived in London only to find out there was a tube strike that was making it almost impossible to get around. Greeeaaaattttt. I spent the next 12 hours sitting in a chair watching movies (thank you Amazon prime) and fading in and out of sleep. Oh and did I mention it was absolutely freezing inside the airport, thank god for blanket scarfs. I was too nervous to fall completely asleep because I had all my bags with me. Since I had such a long layover I had to retrieve my luggage and I was not able to recheck it until the next morning. In fact I was unable to pass through security until 6 am. This is what nightmares are made of, no seriously. I don’t know what was worse, being sleep deprived or the smelly homeless man seated near me who decided he wanted to smoke a cigarette…inside the airport.
Tuesday January 10th, 2017
When I was finally able to go through security I headed straight to the bar. Now you would think that since alcohol is what got me into this mess I would avoid drinking, but I totally deserved a bloody mary and a beer (or 2).
It was time to board my flight New York. I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to get on a plane….until about 2 hours into the flight. I was seated on the aisle and I’m not being dramatic when I saw the couple next to me asked to get up about 100 times. Ok that’s a little dramatic, but I was relieved when there was turbulence and the captain turned on the fasten seatbelt sign. Now I could watch my movie without pausing it every two seconds.
Before I knew it we were landing at JFK. My trip home from hell was nearly over and I was more than ready for a shower and some MUCH needed sleep in my own bed.
Saturday January 21st, 2017
When my passport was stolen the first thought in my head was “holy shit I just lost 27 countries worth of passport stamps” where a normal person would think probably think “holy shit how the hell am I getting home.” It was a little over a week since my trip, and even though I was happy to be home I couldn’t stop thinking about my missing passport. Well that’s when I received the best email I’ve ever received in my life.
Yes you read that right!!! Someone in Rome found my passport on the street and returned it to the school I studied at in Rome (thanks again study abroad). The person who stole my stuff clearly just wanted the designer clutch and small amount of cash I had. But that was ok because I would be getting all my stamps back. It’s like a travelers version of happily ever after.
Although I brought most of this upon myself I’m thankful everyday because there are people who get into worse situations abroad. If you can learn anything from my story it’s to always be extra careful while you are abroad and drinking. Control yourself. Don’t be a slobkabob. You never know what could happen in an unfamiliar place surrounded by unfamiliar people. And most importantly DON’T BRING YOUR PASSPORT OUT!!!!!!!