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Onelers Gone Wild: Lisa Does Great Britain May 10, 2009

Posted by Onely in Bad Onely Activities, Everyday Happenings, Great Onely Activities, single and happy, solo travel, We like. . ..
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Copious Readers, Lisa posted via email from her solo travel adventure:

Hello from Cambridge, England!

 So my first Onely international trip is going pretty well — except for one thing: My wallet got stolen. In the restroom (or toilet, as the Brits call it) of a London bus station during a two-hour layover between buses (from Liverpool, to Cambridge). It only took a few seconds — I left the bathroom and realized almost immediately that my wallet was not in my hands – and by the time I turned around, the wallet was gone. I lost my passport, my debit card, about $75 (US equivalent), my KY driver’s license, a UK-unlimited bus pass worth $160 or so, and 25 postcard stamps (worth £15 or about $25!) with which I was going to begin mailing postcards today.

Luckily I followed the advice of my Let’s Go! travel guide and had made a copy of my passport before I left, and also took along another credit card, as well as about $100 in traveler’s checks, all of which I kept separate from my wallet, and which are the only reason I was able to get to Cambridge and also did not have a complete breakdown in London.

The friend I am staying with here in Cambridge pointed out that it was probably because I was alone that I had the momentary lapse of concentration and left the wallet behind. The bus from Liverpool to London was overnight, and so I was drowsy and frazzled, ready to get to my next destination — not to mention that I had a gigantic bag to manage as I maneuvered the tiny bathroom stall! My friend travels internationally all the time, and says that this specific problem is the thing that bothers her the most about traveling alone — there’s no one you trust to wait outside the bathroom with your bags. 😦

 Oh well. A trip to the American Embassy in London is now in order, bright and early Monday morning. Luckily I had plans to finish the last few days of my trip in London anyway — I just hope that this small excursion doesn’t detract from what will otherwise be a fun last few days of my holiday (also another UK phrase). Besides this rather upsetting glitch in the plans, my trip so far has been excellent — and I have only been truly alone a few days, thanks to having two friends to visit… I have been to the Isle of Man, all across Northern Ireland and parts of Ireland, and spent a very full and wonderful day in Liverpool.

 I’ll be back soon to add my regular two cents to Onely — in the meantime, hope all is well!!!


— L

P.S. Christina here. My stomach just plunged when I read this story. But Lisa handled the situtation so well! My version would have incorporated far more tears and swear words. (Maybe she edited those out; I don’t know.) I definitely agree with Lisa’s friend that having to haul all your bags into those bathroom stalls is soooo annoying, as well as a germophobe’s (me) nightmare. Does anyone else have travel horror stories? Were you travelling alone? How did your status as a solo traveller inform the incident? 


1. Singlutionary - May 11, 2009

Wow. I have never travelled alone internationally so I can’t comment but I would have been super duper stressed out by that situation. But things like this are good because they show you what you’re capable of. And make you more confident for future solo adventures! I am so proud of Lisa and can’t wait to hear more stories about our Onely Abroad.

2. Lauri - May 11, 2009

When I was in London a few years ago, I *thought* I had lost my ATM card, which was my only source of cash. Luckily I found it several hours later hiding in the wrong part of my wallet. But that feeling of being alone in a different country and losing something like that is awful! Luckily, you had your friends to meet, which I’m sure helped a lot.

Interesting that your friend made the comment about if someone had been watching your bag you wouldn’t have been so frazzled. Outside of some business trips and one trip in college, I’ve only traveled with another person once. Taking turns going to the bathroom was amazing! I remember how free it felt to leave my bag behind for a moment!

3. Singlutionary - May 11, 2009

It occurs to me that traveling alone is kinda like having a new kid. You go to do a simple thing like go potty and you’ve got to figure out what to do with the whole brood of baggage.

I hate carrying stuff and being bogged down. I used to like it but now I travel as light as possible. Of course, for an extended international trip light-as-possible is still a whole lot of luggage.

This is totally off topic but going places with my dog seems to be a no-win situation. I can’t always take her inside (a store, or my work, for example) but people get really offended when you leave a dog in the car (even with the windows generously “cracked”). They don’t know that its just a few minutes. But if I leave her home, she won’t get to stick her face out the window the whole way there. And we all know that for a dog, panting into the wind, is sheer bliss.

4. Rachel - May 11, 2009

I hope that the American Embassy was able to help you, Lisa! I am impressed, too, on how well you’ve handled this!

I am not so sure if this happened because you were traveling onely. My then-bf left his travel documents at the check-in counter of the airline. Neither noticed it until it was too late. Why? Because we were both tired… So, who knows, this might’ve happened if you’d been traveling with someone else. (Just thought I’d point this out since we sometimes attribute things to our onely status that might not have much to do with it…).

5. autonomous - May 11, 2009

When I was 22, in 1992, I traveled to Argentina and was pick-pocketed of my wallet and passport. It was so frightening! I didn’t speak Spanish fluently yet; was staying in a village at the base of the Andes with limited service so my parents had to risk sending me more money in the mail; Citibank refused to honor the power of attorney I signed over to my step-dad; they challenged the validity of the police report and refused for a year to reverse the fraudulent charges; a bus-trip was necessary to Buenos Aires and the American Embassy for a new passport. After jumping through all the embassy hoops, I got lost on the way back- I seriously didn’t know to cross the street to catch the return bus- and so was on that bus for 5 hours doing the entire city loop (including a rest stop for the driver at the hub) until I recognized the street corner I needed. It was the day after Clinton’s election win and I still have the newspaper someone left behind that I could barely read. I’ll never forget it and I know I’ll manage somehow if again I’m ever stranded!

onely - May 11, 2009

EGADS. I will boycott Citibank on your behalf!

6. bobby - May 11, 2009

Wow! What a stroke of shitty luck 😦 When I travel (it’s usually 10,000 miles a pop) I use a fanny bag. It stays on my person at all times. I found this to be a great way not to worry about my important documents getting lost or stolen.

I love the way you handled this Lisa, enjoy your trip 🙂

7. Monique - May 13, 2009

Wow, Lida definitively handled this well. I don’t know how I would have reacted. But thank God she ad made a copy of her passport and not carried all her credit card in the same wallet. That’s a great tip I’ll keep in mind for my next trip.

8. Lisa A - May 14, 2009

Man, postcard stamps are expensive! 🙂 I’m glad things worked out in the end.

9. onely - May 14, 2009

Hi everyone!!!! Thank you for all your sympathies and kind comments — I would certainly not attribute this mistake to the mere fact that I was Onely in the bus station in the middle of London, more that I was very tired. But it may have been helpful not to have to heave my backpack on my back before grabbing my wallet — if someone was outside waiting with my bag, then in the midst of all my exhaustion, I may have only had to concentrate on that one most important thing, the wallet…

At any rate, I am happy to report that I’m home, safe (the embassy took about 4 hours, and I had NO problems), and will make up a list of international solo travel tips for everyone based on my experiences… It was a rewarding experience — even losing the wallet was helpful b/c now I know that I can still survive it. Hell, and in comparison to autonomous’s story above, this feels like NOTHING!

I’ll be back to post regularly next week 🙂


10. Traveling Solo, Tips and Tales (Part 1 of 3): Best Things « Onely: Single and Happy - May 17, 2009

[…] from my earlier post, some of my experience was a bit more adventurous than I would have liked (my wallet was stolen in London), but overall, I am so happy that I decided to make this international trip a solo one. I’ve […]

11. Traveling Solo, Tips and Tales (Part 2 of 3): Worst Things « Onely: Single and Happy - May 20, 2009

[…] my story of the stolen wallet attests, sometimes it really would be nice to have someone nearby to hang on to your bulky bag while […]

12. Onelers devenons comme fous: Lisa fait Paris (avec la maman!) « Onely: Single and Happy - January 13, 2010

[…] means you have someone to watch your bags when you’re in the bathroom. Oh yes, as I learned when my wallet got stolen during my solo trip last year, this benefit cannot be […]

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