Long story short, my wallet was stolen Thursday morning during a brief stop to pick up a friend near the beginning of a 750 mile car trip, and wasn't noticed until about 250 miles later when we stopped for lunch and gas. If it weren't for my friend being with me, I'd have been stuck 300 miles from home with no ID, no credit card, and no cash.
There is some traditional advice about what to do after the fact, such as get new credit card numbers, file a police report, report it to credit agencies, etc - there are a bunch of websites that list that stuff. However, there were a few things I noticed that could be done ahead of time to make things a bit easier in the event that it happens.
- Enter the phone number from the back of your credit cards into your cell phone. Without the cards to look off of, it was a few hours before I was able to get access to a computer and look up the numbers, and a lot of mischief can happen in those hours. Even if you're near home, 20 or 30 minutes is enough for them to make a couple of charges.
- If you normally keep all your money in your wallet, keep at least a bit of cash someplace else. By the time I noticed the wallet was missing, I didn't have enough gas to get back home, and I didn't have any way to get more. Just $30 stashed someplace in the car could have made all the difference in avoiding being stranded.
- Keep some phone numbers in the wallet. I had a small card with a list of phone numbers of family members in case I was in a car crash and incapacitated, but I ended up getting the wallet back (sans cash) as a result of someone finding it ditched in a parking lot 60 miles from where it was lost, and calling the contact numbers.
- Make a list of everything in the wallet - cards, information, etc. That way, you aren't having to guess about what you need to cancel or replace.