How to deal with losing your wallet while on the road

Losing your wallet while on the road during an RV trip. It was not something I had thought much about. Until it happened!

The day started normally enough. It was near the start of Week 2 in my long, long RV trip.  I stopped for gas, got back in the truck and motored away toward my next destination.

I stopped for fuel again about 125 miles down the road. That’s when panic set in.

I reached into my purse for the smaller change purse that contained my credit cards and driver’s license and it was not there!


I searched everywhere in the truck. The small leather pouch was nowhere to be found.  Somehow it either fell out at the last stop or my pocket was picked at the previous stop.

Some factors were in my favor. Nonetheless, I spent the next few hours in automated phone hell trying to get everything sorted out.

However, I discovered that I could have made things easier on myself, had I prepped in advance… just in case.

It could have been worse

What was most in my favor in this unfortunate situation was that I did not lose my ENTIRE wallet. That really would have been a nightmare to deal with, including AAA, health insurance, my Mexican residence card, several credit cards and debit cards, and more.

Thankfully, I had put my business and personal credit cards along with my driver’s license, and about $20 cash, in a small leather pouch for times when I did not want to carry a purse.

I was lucky. I did not lose much cash and I still had my ATM debit cards in another place, so I had access to money.

The biggest heartbreak was my brand new lifetime National Parks pass, which was also in the pouch. I had only used it once.

This is something I will replace, as it is an incredible bargain. If you are a senior, $80 for the lifetime pass gets you half-price camping spots at federal campgrounds as well as free admission to all national parks for everyone in your vehicle!

Dealing with the aftermath of losing your wallet while on the road

Turns out it was a wise thing to not always carry around all the cards you won’t need on a particular journey. Or all of your cash in one place.

Likewise, I highly advise travelers to edit the content of the wallet they carry day-to-day to the bare minimum.

Credit card companies are easy to deal with and will put an immediate stop to card activity. As I had past billing statements in my RV, I had the numbers to call. But if I hadn’t, it would have been that much more difficult (see tips below). Credit card companies will also express mail you replacements.

We checked, and whoever had found my cards, had not used them. I arranged for new cards to be sent to my friend’s house in Colorado, where I would be the following week.

The DMV on Friday afternoon proved far more difficult. Getting through to a party who could help with my dilemma proved impossible.

As much as I didn’t want to, I drove on without a driver’s license, vowing to deal with it as soon as I reached my next destination.

The following Tuesday things at the DMV had calmed down. I quickly got through to a live person and the problem was solved.

While the DMV will not mail out a duplicate license for security reasons (at least in California), you can get a paper certificate that will be a suitable stand-in until you can get back to your home state to get the license replaced.

Tips for dealing with and preventing a lost wallet while on the road

My experience with losing my wallet while on the road could have been much, much worse had I not implemented most of these tips. However, it could have gone smoother had I implemented all of them.

In fact, had I double-checked for my wallet before pulling out of that gas station, perhaps none of this would have been necessary.

  • As stated above, NEVER put ALL of your cards, IDs, and cash in one place. Only carry with you what you need.
  • Keep a list of credit card and card account numbers, and the numbers to call should they ever be lost. Keep this in your RV separate from your wallet.
  • Keep a photocopy of your driver’s license in your RV. Or have a photo of it on your phone.
  • Check to make sure your wallet is still with you before hitting the road after paying for things like fuel, food, tickets, etc.
  • Keep your wallet in a place where pickpockets cannot get to it, and stay aware of your surroundings, especially in large crowds or when interacting with strangers.

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