This guest post was written by Alaina Whitney, my friend who traveled with me to Italy and Greece.
I got my phone stolen in Greece.
It was about four pm, and I was sitting with Jess at a table in front of the Ice Queen gelato cafe in Athens after spending a few hours outside at the Acropolis in the scorching hot sun. We were exhausted from the heat, so we decided to relax in the shade and cool off.
I had set my phone down on the table right in front of me, just as in the photo above, when a teenage boy approached us. He had a laminated piece of printer-sized paper with a paragraph written on it in a foreign language that wasn’t Greek, and he proceeded to speak to us in what I assume was that same language. By this point, we had already experienced our fair share of beggars, so we immediately denied him and tried to get him to go away. But this kid was adamant, and kept shoving that paper in our faces.
When we finally got him to go away, I saw out of the corner of my eye that he went for the woman sitting at the table next to us, giving up pretty quickly since she was ignoring him, and then disappeared around the corner by the metro station. Within a minute of him leaving, I went to grab my phone and realized it wasn’t on the table anymore. In my confusion, I continued to look around for it for a few seconds before I realized what had happened: that kid had used his piece of paper to distract us by holding it over my phone in order to cover his hand as he swiped it off the table!
In a panic, I shot up and ran around the same corner I saw him disappear behind, hoping I’d be able to catch him trying to make his escape. When I didn’t see him on the streets, I ran down the steps into the Metro station and, again, couldn’t find him. On my way back to the surface, I spotted a police officer, yelled for help, and quickly told him what happened.
At that point, I knew in my head I most likely wasn’t going to catch him, but I refused to give up. I did NOT want to give that little shit more time to get away, so I continued to run up and down the surrounding side streets for a few minutes, searching, before finally admitting defeat.
Feeling disheartened, I went back to where Jess and I had been sitting, and she informed me the police officer suggested we go file a police report at the Tourism Police Station a few blocks away.
As I waited in the lobby of the tiny station, I could not believe what had happened – the way that it happened. Jess and I had been so careful of pick-pockets the whole of our trip, and the one time we let our guard down… I couldn’t help but think about all of the things I lost by having my phone stolen; now I didn’t have access to a clock or alarm clock, a map, my trip budget, or my awesome photos (I had disabled iCloud for this trip in order to have more space on my phone), not to mention all of the personal information I had on there.
Luckily, I had purchased travel insurance through worldnomads.com prior to our trip, which was my saving grace, along with the fact that Jess and I had printed physical copies of all of our tickets and itineraries, so I didn’t have to worry about not being able to access the information I needed.
In the end, everything turned out fine. I was able to navigate my next city, Paris, without technology by relying on paper maps and the kindness of others. I had also packed a backup digital camera so I was still able to document the rest of my trip. I got home safe and sound without many issues, and now I have an even better phone!
It could happen to you, too! My tips on how to prepare and prevent getting your stuff stolen while traveling:
- Buy travel insurance
- Always be alert
- Keep your phone/camera in your hand or hidden away if you’re not using them
- Keep your passport and money in a money belt (a hidden fanny pack that goes under your clothes)
- Print all of your travel documents, tickets, and itinerary information, including your lodging information, addresses, and any phone numbers you may need
- Stay positive and have fun!
To see more about Alaina Whitney, you can visit her website at alainawhitney.com