Solo Traveler: Screwed Up!

Solo Traveler: Screwed Up!

Not too long ago, I wrote about money security and how easy it is to lose one’s debit card in machines that “eat” them.

Well, now on a trip through Belize, I made the mistake of not retrieving my card, so I lost it. What a shock that was! But it’s just the sort of thing that can happen to anyone.

A few days ago, I went to an ATM in Ladyville, sandwiched between the bank and the grocery store. It was 4 p.m. I tried to get a thousand Belize dollars. The machine said I didn’t have enough in my account, which wasn’t true. I tried a smaller amount, then an even smaller amount, each time the machine gave the card back without any money.

Finally in frustration. I tried to ask for help at the bank, but the guard inside was locking the door, they closed at 4 p.m. A woman who had just finished getting money explained that the machine will only give $500 the first try, then if you try again, it’ll give $300.

Of course there’s no sign telling you that, it’s just something all the locals know. So I got $500, then $300, but forgot on the last transaction to retrieve the card. Of course I didn’t discover the missing card until a few days later when I tried to get money again. I hadn’t followed my own advice to pay close attention any time money is involved!

I was a bit angry at the lack of signage, at the bank for closing so early, and at the fact that I had to go through the ATM process over and over. I made a classic traveler’s mistake. I didn’t pay attention because I was emotionally worked up. Knowing this sort of thing could happen because it has happened to so many people I know, I had another ATM card in my luggage.

It’s awful to screw up on a trip, but even more terrible if you have no contingency plan. Fortunately, the backup plan was in place, and I’ll be just fine till I get home. Unless, of course, I screw up again!

Editor’s note: Sherry Hardage lives in Los Alamos and has been traveling solo in the Americas, Europe, and Asia since she retired from Honeywell in 2009. She is a photographer, writer, and guide who organizes tours of Chiapas, Mexico through her website:

Follow the continuing adventures at her blog:

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