Today, more than 136 million Americans carry a passport. That’s the most ever, far eclipsing pre-9/11 numbers. And that means another record is sure to follow: The number of passports reported lost or stolen.
Losing such an important document while in transit or traveling abroad is a horrifying experience. After all, it’s virtually impossible to return home without it. Several hundred thousand U.S. passports are lost each year, according to the State Department, and the reasons why range from sheer stupidity to bad luck.
Some of the most common places people have lost their passports (or had them stolen) include airports, bars, and restaurants. However, some of the more interesting places include climbing Mount Everest, in the catacombs below Paris, during the running of the bulls in Spain, and while skinny dipping in the Amazon River.
Here are a few more examples of doomed passport adventures.
A woman reported that while posing at the edge of the Grand Canyon for a photo – proudly holding up her passport – a sudden gust of wind blew it out of her hand into the vast depths below. She watched it drift happily through the canyon until it was no longer visible from her vantage point.
A man on a cruise ship who had one too many cocktails admitted that he stumbled to the side of the vessel and threw up. But, as he leaned over his passport slipped from his shirt pocket and tumbled into the sea – never to be seen again.
Trapped in Limbo
A nightmare for an American traveling from England to Italy last year began when he left his passport in the seat pocket on the plane. By the time he deplaned and realized his mistake, it was too late. He wasn’t allowed back onto the jet, which promptly took off and Italian officials wouldn’t let him into the country.
He managed to keep his wits and, with help from sympathetic customs staff, arrange for an emergency replacement. Of course, he had to spend the first night of his Italian vacation in an airport cell.
Another man was at a Helsinki restaurant when he left the table to use the bathroom, leaving the bag containing his passport in his chair. Of course, it was promptly stolen.
The Singapore citizen then discovered (to his dismay) that his country has no embassy in Finland. He, too, had to spend a night in a detention cell until his frantic calls for help paid off.
Needless to say, losing your passport can happen to anyone, anywhere.
So plan ahead, and be a savvy traveler. Keep your passport secure, either in a hotel safe or money belt, and always have legible photocopies of your passport and other identification on hand – just in case.
For more information on quickly replacing a lost or stolen passport, contact Swift Passport Services.
Laurie Lee is co-founder and CEO of Swift Passport and Visa Services. A Chicago native, Laurie loves adventure travel, especially to the Caribbean. She enjoys writing for the Swift Post, as well as for her personal blog, Spare Parts- www.sparebodyparts.com.