I broke one of my own travel rules not long ago. I panicked, and it wasn't pretty. People are forever asking me about my tips for travel and I frequently find myself speaking to everyone from close friends and family to total strangers about what I've learned around the world, where to stay, what to experience, where to eat and most importantly, what to do in an emergency. But, after a hellacious week battling Hurricane Sandy and a whirlwind work trip to London, I was THAT girl. Crazy out-of-town lady at the register who went to search for my wallet to pay for some fabulous items I wanted to pick up at Harrods, and BAM - there it wasn't. Money gone, credit cards gone, sentimental fortune cookie notes gone, driver's license gone and if there's one thing I learned yesterday, if you've got to have a meltdown, have it at Harrods.
The cashier was so sympathetic it hurt me to look at him- he took me aside and before I knew it, a concierge was there with her arm around me calming me down and walking me through my last few stops- where had I been, what did I do with my bag, and reassured me she was sure it was at the hotel. While I didn't believe a word of it at the time, I felt better and was whisked away somehow to an office where another fabulously calming person was waiting, ready with phone in hand to help me call whoever I needed to , to sort this. Credit card company, bank, family, you name it. While I continued my tirade about how I couldn't believe I was pickpocketed, he calmly recommended we call my hotel just to check. Sure enough, we got the right person on the phone and there it was. She was right, he was right, and I have never had such empathetic, proactive service. I blame the jetlag for leaving it behind, but if there's one thing I tell people when dealing with emergencies on the road, it's FIRST, DON'T PANIC. How did I let myself get to that state? Me, the girl who's stayed in remote tented camps with no electricity and all manner of wildlife roaming just outside...me, the girl who's flown on small 4 seater planes with duct tape holding the window together. No excuse except for the fact that I broke my own rule. It happens, just usually not to me and it caused me a very unnecessary heart attack-size horror show.
So, if I can pass on a piece of advice, I really do mean what I say when I say KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON if disaster strikes. Everything can be fixed- sure, it's horrible to lose money but I've been pickpocketed abroad before and American Express had a new card shipped to me the next day. I've been sick while traveling before, and most hotels around the world can find you a doctor when you need one. We usually can't see straight in a time of challenge when you're worked up and irrational so just breathe and remember, once everything gets fixed, it will make one heck of a story to tell you friends when you get back. And, a million kudos to whomever is in charge of training at Harrods, you've done well.