After a difficult start to my trip to Ireland a couple of weeks ago, I found myself reconsidering how I travel. So, I’m checking in with some tips for travelling in France (and anywhere else) as smoothly as possible.
Whether it’s for work, holidays or getting home to see your family, the more you travel the greater your risk of falling victim to cancelled flights, delays, lost luggage or petty theft. My most recent experience travelling back to Ireland, though, took the proverbial biscuit, or in this case, it took the macaroon.
After a long and stressful bus ride to Paris Charles de Gaulle, the chocolate, tea, and macaroons I was taking home for friends and family as well as my PHONE were pinched from my table at Starbucks. I wasn’t really a witness to the crime as I was glued to my laptop but when I looked up from my screen to grab a charger I noticed straight off that something wasn’t right.
Since I like to keep my handbag organised (especially when I travel), I was able to do a very quick check to see exactly what was gone and whether any of the essentials (passport, boarding pass, money) had also disappeared. Luckily only the food and my phone had been lifted and although I was close to tears at the thought of being alone, phone-less and facing filing my first ever police report (and doing it in French!), I felt much better being able to reassure myself rapidly about the rest of my stuff. At least I wouldn’t have to sleep in the airport overnight or Iive there like Tom Hanks in that film. Although, if I had to get stuck in any airport, CDG might be the one because, well, macaroons.
Ok, back on track now.
Hours later after speaking to almost ten different airport employees, filing a police report, having my photo taken by a police officer, and making a couple of attempts at using a payphone, I arrived at my destination. In one piece. And, a little wiser.
Here are the top tips that I’ll have running through my head next time I’m travelling in France (or anywhere else).
Yup, most of this whole incident could have been avoided if I had chosen a different outfit. No pockets = nowhere to put your phone = stupid decisions like leaving your phone on a table in a high risk environment.
Choose Life. Choose pockets.
Deux: Stay calm. Think step by step.
Ok. So you wore a dress or trousers with no pockets. And now you have no phone. It’s not the end of the world. But you do have to deal with the situation.
Everyday situations can become stressful, even panic-inducing when you’re travelling. Having my personal belongings stolen left my already tired head in a spin. If the same happens to you, take a deep breath, check if those items really are missing and if anything else is missing, then make a plan and then put it in action. Here’s what I decided to do.
Firstly, alert the people that are already on the ground – talk to the cleaners, the sales-assistants at food stalls, and of course the security officers. Tell them what is missing. Retrace your steps and try to talk to people who might remember you, the cleaner you said hello to as you were exiting the toilets or the guy corralling the luggage trolleys.
Secondly, you might want to warn your friends and family, you can tell them later that they won’t be getting their macaroons or fancy chocolate but they might need to know now that they won’t be able to contact you by phone. You can do this by payphone. Be warned though, they often don’t accept cards, are pricey and can be hard to find. Leaving you to wonder…
Thirdly, contact the police to make an official complaint – having a copy of this report may be useful for your service providers. Next, alert those service providers – credit card company / bank / phone network. Anthony cancelled my phone line within an hour or two of the theft but a 10 minute international call had already been made – it was just 5 euro but had the phone remained accessible, the cost could have been truly significant.
And, then, finally, once you have done everything you can, forget about the incident and enjoy the rest of your holidays. If you are in France sans phone, you can buy a basic one for under 20 euro in a supermarket and with your passport as proof of identity get a sim for 10e
Trois: Get comfortable, but not too much
If you’ve had a long day or are at the end of a busy holiday and you have a long wait ahead of you, just get the security part done and head through to duty-free. If you’re in an airport you know well, don’t hang around in your comfort zone (me in Starbucks) because you will naturally lower your guard and become easier prey for unscrupulous pick pockets. Once you’re through security, you are sure that you’re in the company of fellow travellers and less likely to encounter habitual pick-pockets or unfortunate people who have to prey on tired travellers for phone access and food.
Quatre : Keep Up Your Good Habits
My carry on luggage ( a big tote) was tidily packed and zipped up which might have discouraged those wandering hands from straying there too. And, as I said I try to keep my handbag well organised while I travel. My Mum gave me a colourful passport cover a few years ago which makes my passport easy to find and I assign other important items ( phone, credit cards, boarding pass) a home. That way a quick scan of my bag is all I need to run through my mental check-list of belongings.
This is typically how I sort my things before I start packing my handbag, hand luggage or full-sized case. Everything gets laid out where I can see it so that I don’t feel I have to check ten times whether I forgot something or other. And the smaller items are all laid out on the little pouch they’ll go into – this particular one was made by a creative Cherbourgeoise and was a Christmas gift from Anthony. Browse her creations here.
I usually slide the colourful passport into this transparent pouch along with all my other travel documents (train tickets, boarding pass etc).
Smaller items ( card case, coins, keys, hair clips and elastics aswell as a pen) go into this pouch which keeps them all nice and tidy while travelling (and makes changing bags rapid and easy the rest of the time).
Cinq: Travel in style
Just like a cappuccino in Butler’s Café or Macaroons from Ladurée bring some glamour to modern day flying, lip balm and hand moisturiser are things that mightn’t make it into your handbag everyday and that will keep you feeling fresh as you travel. Especially with the dry air in the airplane.
This is “honey dream” lip balm by Nuxe. They have a whole range of products enriched with honey and the lip balm and hand cream are sold together in this travel-sized little sachet. The lip-balm is long-lasting and really hydrating. The cream is rich but it doesn’t leaving your skin feeling greasy and both the lip balm and cream have a slightly citrus-y perfume which is ultra fresh.
And, all of these things that make the trip smoother and sweeter are kept in my O bag. It gets all the heart eyes from me. You’ll definitely be hearing more about it from me….
I’m curious what you’ve learned from their travels. What makes the whole process more relaxed for you ? What makes it more fun for you?