The title says it all doesn’t it – forgetting your wallet is maybe even worse than losing it or getting it stolen – it was right there in your home and you could have taken it but for some reason or another, you forget to bring it along with you! Well, it happened to me and the moment that I realized I had forgotten it, I panicked a little bit.

It just so happened that instead of going to the hotel that I usually go to (and more importantly, that I have a very good status with), I was going to a hotel that I have been to but rarely go – it’s more expensive and it’s farther away than other hotels. I’ll come back to the status later but essentially with any hotel, you need ID and you need a credit card to check in – I had neither.

Luckily, the hotel I was staying at managed to check me in through a third party authorization form – someone fills out a form with a picture of their ID and a picture of their credit card and their card is charged while you get your card. The one thing I didn’t really understand is why a third party is able to do that and why you aren’t able to just fill it out with your own information – I could have gotten a picture of my ID and a picture of my credit card and then I wouldn’t have to go through a third party …but I digress.

My partner alerted me right away to the fact that I had forgotten my wallet – fortunately for me, she put it in the mail to send it to me right away.

As I thought about this experience, here is what I would do differently:

No ID? Double check!

I didn’t think I had ID but afterwards, I realized that I had my ID for my client (which also requires government ID to get). I could have used my work badge and that’s a lesson learned for next time and a useful tip for other business travellers – you may not have your drivers license or passport with you but maybe you can use your work badge as a temporary ID.

Keep a spare credit card in the luggage

I try to keep duplicates of many things in my luggage – I have toothbrushes, toothpaste and other toiletries in a separate bag that I keep with my luggage and then at home, I have another toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. that I use so that I’m not spending the mental energy trying to pack all the toiletries I need in and out of my luggage each time I travel. I however did not do this with credit cards and I have now learned that keeping all of my eggs in one basket (i.e., keeping all of my credit cards in my wallet) may not be the best idea. Of course, you also want to be secure – what if your credit card in your luggage or your luggage itself is stolen? It just so happens that I have a particular credit card that you can lock and unlock online – a very handy feature. Keep the spare credit card locked until you need it in an emergency.

Status matters?

I put a question mark because I haven’t had this kind of experience at a hotel I have good status in. I’m willing to bet money though that my experience would have been different – I may not have been able to check in but I think they would at least waive policy or provided an exception on the basis that I pay things by a certain date. I’m sure the policy is in place to protect the hotel from something but I can’t figure out why they would uphold the policy for business travellers who made an honest mistake.

It’s during challenging times where you can see good vs. great customer service

Once I had learned I had forgotten my wallet, I called up the hotel to see what could be done or whether I had to do some back up plan. As I called the hotel, I was told that they would make an exception (which is great) and that they could see what they could do for payment. I had my phone with me, and I knew that I could use the debit function on my phone through Google Pay but what I didn’t realize was that there was a $100 limit. The gentleman on the phone then said that this is an exception and that they normally need ID and a credit card to check in. I’m sure he meant well but saying that to someone that made an honest mistake was, I am pretty sure, not the right thing to say. I told him that I didn’t purposely forget my wallet – but I really don’t understand why he would say something like that – I can only assume that he’s reading from some script rather than actually listening and empathizing with the customer. I’m sure you can guess which hotel I won’t stay at unless I have to for next time.

Make a checklist, check it twice

I had installed a packing app on my phone and had even set up the list to my preferences but I don’t think I had even used the app even once after installing it. Everybody, I’m sure, has ways of keeping track of what they are bringing and making sure they haven’t forgotten anything and my way is to make sure I have the main things rather than using an app / checklist. I have been burned many times before (I’ve forgotten underwear, socks, gym clothes) which means that I should really be getting into the habit of checking off things in a checklist so that I don’t have to spend a tremendous amount of energy thinking about what I have packed and what I may have forgotten.

You can figure it out

Lots of things can happen. Some things you can control like not forgetting your wallet. But then there are other times where you just can’t control what will happen. The airline loses your luggage. Your wallet gets stolen. The trick is to minimize the ‘damage’ when these things happen – have backup documentation or take pictures of IDs and passports so that in extenuating circumstances, you are able to do something at least. Just don’t forget your wallet