You’ve been walking around a tiny French town (or a massive French city, ahem, Paris) taking in the sights and learning the history of the place. The people are charming and everyone you’re travelling with is in high spirits. You and your travelling companions sit down to a leisurely French lunch, enjoying the scenery and the superb people-watching. Then, a few hours later, the check comes and you reach for your credit card. But, it isn’t where it was this morning. As you frantically dig through your bag and rack your brain for where it could be, a realization hits: you’ve lost your credit card in the middle of your French holiday. What are you going to do?

Don’t panic

The first step is to take a really deep breath, and let it go. Panicking clouds your judgement and won’t help get your card back. Don’t beat yourself up either: no matter how careful and prepared you may have been, any traveller can get ripped off or have their items stolen. A positive attitude can make all the difference in the world.

Ask for help

If this happens and you are less than confident in your French language skills, try to enlist the help of a local English speaker to help you make phone calls or explain what happened to the officials. Oftentimes people working in hotels or at tourism offices will be able to help you out.

Report to local police

As soon as you can, find a police officer and report the loss or theft. A police report can help you down the line to replace your credit card, and is an absolute must if you file an insurance claim. In addition to helping with a police report, they may be able to point your to a local traveller’s aid office like the Red Cross.

Gather important information

In the best-case scenario you will have photocopies of your important documents (like your credit card information) on you in France. This may help speed up the process of getting your card replaced. Remember, as technology advances there are new ways to store information like this, and now there are even applications that have been created solely to store important travel and financial information.

Call your credit card company immediately

If you don’t have your bank’s contact information, look it up online. Retrieve information you’ve stored online and be very careful about emailing credit-card numbers. If at all possible, do not send the information electronically, and speak to representatives on the phone instead. Let them know your credit card has been lost and you are travelling abroad. They will be able to put a hold on your account, let you know if anyone has used it recently and then work to get you a new card rushed to you in a day or two.

Ask About extra services/options through credit card company

While you have them on the phone, be sure to ask if there is anything they can help you with in the meantime. More times than not, they will be willing and able to wire cash directly to you or to pay for your hotel room directly. You won’t know how they can help until you ask.

Make the best of the situation

Trying to get everything straightened out and replaced can take a long time, a long time during your already planned, already happening holiday. Don’t let losing your credit card ruin your entire holiday and instead try to be flexible and patient. If you don’t have the money to go to an expensive museum or see a fancy show, shift your itinerary to take advantage of free events that are available throughout the country. TimeOut is a wonderful resource for wild and fun events that are usually free.

While losing your credit card while travelling is never a fun experience, if you are prepared, stay calm and follow our tips above, you will come out of it alright. Remember an age-old travel saying: tragedy + time = comedy. At the very least, you will have a great story when you get home. To protect your holiday, your belongings and yourself, tailor your travel insurance plan with Cover-More to fit your exact needs.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Ken Hawkins.