Post Title: 5 lessons learned from having my stuff stolen while abroad

I definitely have a new number one when it comes to my list of worst travel experiences ever. Earlier this year, someone grabbed my backpack in a restaurant with my passport, many of my bank cards, electronics and a variety of other smaller items.

If only I had known at the moment I took the picture below that it would be 3 weeks before I made it back to the USA.You poor naive fool, you have no idea what you're about to go through!

I had been in London for a few days already and was meeting up with a friend that I hadn't seen in quite some time; I was so engrossed in our conversation that I didn't even realize until it was too late. I think I was in a state of shock, just looking at the spot where my bag was supposed to be and feeling helpless in a country that I was not a citizen of.

To make matters worse, this lunch was just supposed to be a quick stop on my way to the airport, so not only was I without my stuff, I also had to deal with the possibility of missing a flight. Here's 5 things I found most useful when faced with this situation:

      #1: Scan every important document

      Being in a foreign country with no passport causes problems, as you can imagine. I couldn't leave the country without it so I was definitely going to miss my flight that day.

      The state ID in my wallet wouldn't cut it when dealing with embassies and consulates but luckily enough, I had a scanned copy of my passport stored online that I was able to pull up on my phone as I explained the situation to officials.

      I was even able to provide copies of things I hadn't traveled with, like my birth certificate, which helped immensely. Scan everything that matters and store it securely online someplace you can get to!

      #2: Spread the love... or at least the docs

      While the thief did manage to get away with many important items, my wallet and phone were luckily both still in my pocket.

      I can't even imagine trying to navigate all this without my smartphone. In addition, my wallet had a few of my bank cards and, as mentioned above, my U.S. state ID. If I had put my wallet in my backpack, as many people do, then I would also have had no access to money! Keep some important items separated!

      #3: Know where to go (and who to contact)

      I found the location of my embassy using my smartphone (thankfully I was in London). Unfortunately, I couldn't resolve everything that late in the day; I would need to go back the next day, as I needed a whole slew of items to get temporary travel docs. I then headed to the police station to report the incident.

      I used my phone to book a nearby hotel for the night and checked in using my state ID. It also doubled as a place to drown my sorrows as at that time I still had no idea when or how I'd be getting home.

      Finally, I also spent a lot of time that evening calling banks and cancelling the flights that I was supposed to be on over the next few days.

      #4: Always file a police report, and check ALL your insurance policies

      I reported the incident to the police in the hope that my items would turn up - even if the electronics were gone, I just wanted my travel documents! A police report would also be needed when applying for a new passport and other documents.

      Unlike other countries, the U.S. isn't so big on travel insurance and I didn't have any for this trip.

      Although I didn't realize it when I had signed up, my U.S. renter's insurance covered situations like this. Having a police report was one of the key items needed for my successful claim so I'm glad I got one before I left the UK.

      Be sure to make copies and scans of the police report, I needed it many times even after I made it back to the USA.

      #5: Be nice and don't beat yourself up about it

      It's easy to get frustrated and angry in this situation and then to take it out on others. This was definitely a "you get more flies with honey" situation though.

      I dealt with so many people during this experience and in many cases they did things like waive fees, refund tickets, expedite processing and many other things not required of them and at no additional cost to me.

      I also spent a fair bit of time beating myself up for being so stupid to let it happen but you learn from it and move on.

This was quite an expensive ordeal for me when all was said and done. In order to get some of my documents replaced, I ended up having to take a trip to Barbados and then wait until everything was ready. Yes, I know, there's far worse places to have to take a detour to, especially in March, but it was over 2 weeks before everything was processed and I finally made it back to the USA.

If nothing else, I got to experience flying on the Upper Deck of the Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 and even managed to get a photo in the cockpit after landing in Barbados!

One final tip: Last minute tickets can be expensive but I managed to get around that by booking award tickets for a fraction of the cost of a paid ticket. You frequently have more options than you realize in these situations to cut some of your expenses.

I sincerely hope none of you find yourself in a similar situation, but if you do, I hope this helps.