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Left backpack at Berlin Train Station with our iPad in it.

We are usually very careful people, but in a moment of inattentiveness, we left our backpack with our iPad and GPS in it at the Berlin train station. The train from Berlin to Prague was late. Instead of having 10 minutes time to board the train and get settled in, as soon as the train arrived, everyone was rushing to get on the train. As soon as we got on, the train started to pull out. It was only then we realized we didn't have our backpack. Without our iPad, we did not have access to a phone, email, or internet for the rest of our trip to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest. We had downloaded all our travel information on it - maps, schedules, etc. For the next 12 days, we managed to do everything we had planned to do. It was perhaps not as efficient, but we managed. Berlin Train station claims that they did find our backpack, so we will wait and see if we will get everything back. This was about the "worst" thing that happened to us with the exception of the taxi cab driver in Prague who took the "long" way to the train station - which cost us US$5.00 instead of US$3.00. We had a great time.

Posted by
8417 posts

I hope you get everything back. At least you didn't let it ruin your trip.

This kind of thing happens more often than people might think. When you are in a new place and out of your comfort zone, dealing with distractions and other things that take your attention away, it is too easy to walk off without something. I did it in Barcelona, where I left a bag next to my table when having dinner. I remembered it when I was on the metro. I went back to the restaurant the next day on the off chance they had it, but no such luck. Fortunately it was only a blow dryer and hat that were easily replaced. My brother set his day bag down in front of the train station in Bruges and walked away to get his bearings. He called me in a panic because when he turned around his day bag was gone. His passport and other important items where in it. I suggested he first check at the train station and if no one had turned it in there he should contact the police. He was very lucky that the police had it and everything was still in the bag.

People who say things like this can never happen to them should never say never, and take all precautions to make sure they never lose anything important.

Posted by
3901 posts

Our first trip to Italy in 2008, we were at a train stn with our luggage, hubby put the computer bag on a bench...then we heard an announcement that the train was coming in at a diff track...so we popped up and were heading for the other track when we realized that we had left the bag sitting on the bench. This was before ipads and such, and I can't rem what was in it, but that made us a little more hyper-aware of where our bags were at all times. It is so easy to get distracted when you are rushed...

Posted by
21332 posts

That is tough. Hope that at least the ipad was locked with a password so that it could create some challenge for the next user. Just out of curiosity how many separate bags did you have?

Posted by
137 posts

I had one rolling suitcase and my shoulder strap purse and my husband had one rolling suitcase and his backpack.
We were just plain distracted/careless - we sort of panicked when everyone was rushing toward the train and clamoring to get on because the train was late and my husband forgotten that he had taken his backpack off as we waited for the train.
He also did something he never did before: he had placed the backpack on the empty seat away from our vision as we watched towards the direction the train was coming in from. He usually puts it between us or at his feet or on top of his rolling suitcase. It was just one of those things that happened in a moment of inattentiveness/carelessness. Lesson learned, period. We did have a password for our iPad, so don't know if it has been already stolen from backpack and password has been decoded.

Posted by
10344 posts

Dee,
Sorry to hear of this. But my guess is that most on this forum have lost, or come close to losing, items on a European trip. So be easy on yourself and your husband. It's so easy to become distracted when you're rushed/excited/tired.

Posted by
455 posts

Here's a good example of distraction.

We rented a couple bicycles in Dresden from a stand off the edge of the main square, behind the cathedral a couple years ago. I needed to get the access code for the bike locks from an email sent to me by the bike company. After logging in to get the codes for the two bikes I set the iPad in the basket of an adjacent bike. We unlocked our two bikes, threw the day bag on my back and away we went for a nice tour off the square and along the river.

An hour and a half later I wanted to check something else on the internet so was fishing around in the day pack for the iPad. It wasn't there, and it wasn't in either of our baskets, so I tore off back to the square where we rented the bikes. I arrived before my wife and was looking on the ground around where we picked up our bikes (I had a vague memory of setting it on the ground). My wife arrived and helped look around and just as we were giving up she caught a glimpse of something in the basket of an adjacent bike. Sure enough, it was there all by itself for an hour and a half!

We were absolutely just lucky. I'm bringing the iPad again on our next trip this Fall and will be paying much better attention.

Posted by
2169 posts

I have my important travel info entered in my iPhone, but I also have it on paper that goes in my carry-on plus a brief itinerary in my suitcase in case it goes astray.

Posted by
137 posts

This was the very first time we planned to use our iPad. Luckily I did print copies of our airline reservations, train tickets, and names, addressees, phone numbers and emails of our hosts with Airbnb, as well as numbers for credit and atm cards, passport, and insurance policies. (I would have printed out more stuff if I had the time to before we left for our trip. I confess I am one of those people who always worry about things go awry and want back up.) We were depending on our iPad for maps, directions, access to phone, email and internet. While it was a bit inconvenient, our trip turned out fine. We were very lucky, we did not have any real emergencies come up. We are dinosaurs and need to join the 21st Century - plan to buy an iPhone soon. Another lesson learned is that renting an apartment through Airbnb has it downsides. While there is wifi, there are no land lines or computer available at the accommodations. We were not able to call or email our hosts.

Posted by
8417 posts

The most important thing is that it didn't ruin your trip. I'm of the mindset that I don't like to put all of my eggs in one basket, so to speak. I have information stored on my iPad and iPhone, but I do bring paper backups of the most important information.

Posted by
16878 posts

Thanks for sharing your experience! It's nice to know that you can have a fairly major set-back and still find solutions on the road. It's great to plan ahead and bring information with you, but information can also be found locally, through hotels, tourist offices, bus/train/metro stations, etc. Some hotels will have a lobby computer where you can check email or e-docs in the cloud, or a few internet cafes still exist, but those options are dwindling as Wi-Fi and personal devices take over. (Although it's old-fashioned, I still print out paper copies of any actual reservations I have made, and enjoy using paper books or pieces cut from them. Recently in New York, where I was relying more on my iPad, I found it frustrating that I had to chase the Wi-Fi signal all over the hotel.) If you need to replace ID or credit cards, see general advice at http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/theft-scams/losing-it-all.

Posted by
12400 posts

Hi,

Maybe this might too late, maybe not. Outside of Berlin Hbf is the Meininger Hotel where you can use their computers, usually 30 mins for 50 cents. If you want to go an Internet cafe/call shop, there is one at Savignyplatz in Berlin-Charlottenburg. From Hbf take the S-Bahn to Savignyplatz, exit on Kantstrasse out of the station, it's located on Kantstrasse 132.

Posted by
137 posts

We are already back from our trip to Europe and are now waiting to see if our backpack will get back to us with everything in it. We are not very high tech/savvy people - but now we have learned that there are internet cafes and hotels where we could have used to email or go online. We didn't know where to go or where to find them and didn't want to spend too much of our vacation time looking for them. Everything worked out in the end and we learned some lessons along the way. Thank you all for you kind words and helpful suggestions. The world has changed since we first traveled to Europe 28 years ago - when just making a long distance phone call was a challenge. We are old dogs that need to learn new tricks. Our kids think we are clueless and in some ways, we are!

Posted by
12400 posts

Hi,

How's Orange Co. and the art festival coming up? In July?

Yes, totally, traveling has changed from the way it was 28 years ago. I was traveling then in W Germany too. About just :"dropping in" to use the computers, anytime you see the A &O Hostels (there are several of them), you can use the computers, regardless of your being a guest or not (they don't know). I've done this. At the front desk buy a ticket to use the computer, usually in Germany 50 cents min for 30 mins. Internet cafes and "call shops" have computers, aside from telephones for trans-atlantic calls, the cheapest way, for you to access, If you stay in the Savignyplatz area, a couple of internet cafes I know of are located on Kantstrasse near the one listed above.

If your "stuff" got to the Fundbüro (the lost and found office) at Berlin Hbf. then you just may be in luck.

Posted by
18 posts

Before I left home (SF, CA ) a friend who is a tech pro told me about an app called Find iPhone, you can register your phone, computer, iPad on it for free. It uses GPS technology to locate your device. You sign into iCloud.com and you register your devices. If your device gets stolen you can see its location and you can erase everything on it to protect yourself. Hopefully, you won't need to but we all know that absent mindedness can happen when you're in a rush, in jet lag, have a person at the station posing as a railway helper in a foreign language
Etc etcetera etcetera!!

Posted by
137 posts

Hi Fred, Yep, Art Festival in Laguna Beach should be in full swing by July. Best part for us is that there is a free trolley that we can take to all the events, so no need for us to drive and and find and pay for parking! Anyways, we will be returning to Europe in the future and will take with us the info you and others have given in case we find ourselves in a similar situation (hope not!). We wired the money to Berlin for them to ship back our stuff, so now we have to wait to see if everything will be returned.

Hi Janet, Thank you for the tip about registering our electronic devices to be able to track them. Seriously, my husband and I are stuck in the 20th Century (like in the 1970's). Time for us to get with it, otherwise we are going to be extinct! Grew up without videos, answering machines, GPS, etc. Had one land line in the house, LP record player (not even cassette player), and transistor radio. We are dinosaurs...

Posted by
12400 posts

Hi Dee,

Yes, that art festival in Lagune Beach is a very enjoyable event; ages ago, ie, 1974, I went to it since my cousins live in Orange Co. I know exactly what you mean in the references to the 1970s (exactly !) and traveling like that. Most of the information you listed as "lost" when you left the iPad at the station, I list on 3x5 cards, which I think are imposible to lose. Never say never, in case I did leave it at someplace or just lost it, I do have a back up duplicate set in the luggage. The 3x5 cards rubber banded, stay in the front pocket, about as important as the passport for obvious reasons. All the planning, time schedules, dates, etc are on the cards.

If any hostel has computers for the guests, you can access them, no need to be a guest. When you tell the desk you want to use the computer and are ready to pay, you won't be asked if you're a guest at the hostel. I've done this numerous times, was never asked. (I wasn't , just walked in to use the computer)

"transistor radio"...didn't Van Morrison mention that in his "Brown Eyed Girl?" and didn't Connie Smith refer to that in her song? On my trips to Europe I carry a transistor radio to listen to the local broadcasts.

Posted by
137 posts

Hi Fred, Do kids these days even know what 3x5" index cards are? I just signed up for electronic delivery of my LA Times (been subscribing for 43 years since I was 18). I am going through withdrawal symptoms. Rough to get through the morning without flipping through a real newspaper with ink and all. I still love my paper maps, too. Since our GPS was in the backpack left in Berlin, we have been driving around without it since we got back from Europe. We got lost the other day and husband asked if I had any AAA maps in the car. I turned to him, most likely rolled my eyes (like our kids to) and said, "No, not since we got the GPS." Putting those maps back in the car. Dee

Posted by
12400 posts

@ Dee,

One more point to illustrate having maps when the GPS is gone.... without monopolising: On this last trip in May I was going from Berlin to Hamburg Hbf, It was announced (only in German) on this ICE that something had happened up ahead and that the train was not going beyond where we were at the moment, a town called Bergedorf. They told us in repeated announcements (only in German) that everyone had to get off at Bergedorf, otherwise you could sit there w/o knowing how long.. So, amidst the confusion people started to get off and head for this shuttle or other means to get to Hamburg Hbf. My first reaction was where am I?? I knew I was close to Hamburg, somewhere in the suburbs of Hamburg. There are a ton of them. I don't use/carry a GPS, wouldn't know how to use it. So, once off with the luggage, I pulled out the old AAA map of Central Europe. Bergedorf isn't that far from Hamburg. From a local I found out the S-Bahn connection. to Hbf,. Good enough.

Posted by
9 posts

We forgot our binoculars on the train from Garmisch to the Zugspitz. My son had taken them out to look at the mountains as we were traveling from Garmsich, he put them on the table between us and we both saw them. Then when we got to the Grainau station and had to change to the Zugspitz train, there was mass confusion and clamor, we did not want to be left behind so we got off the train with all the Germans. We did not realize we had left them behind until we were going up the Zugspitz and wanted to use them. There was not enough time between trains on the way back to check in at the station to see if they had been found, so we chalked them up as lost. Fortunately they were not expensive ones, but were compact and fit well in a day bag. We learned from that lesson and will be more careful of our belongings the next time we travel.

Posted by
796 posts

I am so sorry this happened to you and glad it didn't stop you from having a great time. I hope you get everything back! We always have our travel info in several locations from my purse to our luggage. You could use internet cafes in Prague, Vienna, and Budapest to get access to email and the internet and can purchase cheap phones as well.

Posted by
2 posts

We just returned from an Alps vacation that we took with a tour group. There were several times when one of our group left something behind in a restaurant, tour stop, etc, but it was noticed by another member of the tour group and the item was retrieved before leaving the site. I guess this is one advantage of traveling with a group - there are more sets of eyes watching over things. I'm glad you continued to enjoy your vacation, and I hope this memory fades in time compared to the happy experiences you had while traveling.

Posted by
137 posts

Yes, traveling with a group does have its advantages! Safety in numbers, companionship, and sometimes meeting life long friends/travel buddies! One friend and her husband almost got stranded in a remote mountain village at night because the bus back to town left without them while she was in the restroom. Fortunately, another (attentive) person on the day tour bus (a stranger) realized they were not on: "Hey, where is that couple that sat...?) and had the bus driver turn around. So, not only personal belongings are retrieved, so are "missing"people!

Posted by
137 posts

Backpack finally arrived from Berlin with everything including our iPad in it after nearly 5 weeks and paying US$65 for shipping.
On another note, we had purchased travel insurance through Travel Guard and we have to give their customer service credit for helping us in the process of getting our bag back. Also need to give big thanks to our Airbnb hosts in assisting us as well.
A happy ending!

Posted by
12400 posts

Hi,

Great news. I know you must be relieved at everything being there. German train stations use these words to indicate the "Lost and Found"......Fundservice or Fundbüro. Next time keep the 3x5 cards handy....lol

Posted by
137 posts

@Fred - Yep, bringing 3x5 index cards next time...lesson learned. Brings back memories of study aids during old school days. Will also take photos of all our luggage before we leave for our trip - our backpack was blue - but what kind of blue: navy, indigo, royal, cobalt, sky, dark, medium, light, more teal, more purple, etc. Hard to describe to another person - every one has a different concept of a color. A photo would have helped. Dee