What If … You Lose Your Car Keys, Passport, Wallet, or Phone While Traveling?
Keys in the toilet, one sign that you are having a bad day (Photo: Thinkstock)
Last week, when my teenage daughter and I were driving across the country, we stopped at Dairy Queen for just a few minutes to eat lunch and grab a bathroom break. Those few minutes turned into a long couple of hours when I somehow managed to flush the car keys down the toilet in the restroom.
Yes, I flushed my car keys down the toilet. Please don’t ask how. I’m still recovering from the ribbing my husband and children gave me.
Here’s what you should ask instead: What if this happened to me? How would I get them back — and get on my way?
We consulted Lynn O’Rourke Hayes, travel expert and owner of FamilyTravel.com, and Christopher Elliott, founder and publisher of Travelers United (a nonprofit consumer organization dedicating to helping travelers), for their tips on the best ways to cope should you ever lose your keys, your passport, your luggage, your wallet, your meds, or your phone — without losing your mind.
A good offense is a good defense when it comes to key recovery. Keep an extra set somewhere safe — and probably not in your luggage, which is likely in your locked car. Ask a companion to carry them for you, or stash the alternates in a different pocket in your purse or backpack.
This strategy is especially important if you’ve rented a car. For reasons that remain mysterious to most of us, the salesperson at the rental car counter will usually hand you a keychain holding two sets of keys — in other words, the backup set is now in your hands, on the same ring as the primary set. The rental company doesn’t usually keep a backup. Go figure.
What’s more, the company will charge you large to replace them. Hertz, for example, will bill “$200 if you lose or take the vehicle’s keys and the cost of delivering replacement keys or towing the vehicle to the nearest maintenance location.”
So here’s what you do. The second you get in the rental car, take a set of keys off the keychain and stow them elsewhere, just like you would with the keys to your own car. You might have to pay to replace one key, but you’ll avoid the other charges and — most important — be on your way.
Did your dog eat your passport? (Photo: Thinkstock)