Forgetting Your Passport – A Cautionary Tale

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The night before my friends and I went to Sweden, a holiday was taking place in Cologne where everyone goes out drinking. We had an early flight, about 8am if I recall correctly, but I still wanted to go out with some friends for a while. So we went out drinking, but I knew I couldn’t drink too much or stay out too late. I went home around 9 or so, although I still couldn’t fall asleep until midnight.

My alarm went off at around 5 or so, and I groggily dragged myself out of bed. I had not previously packed, but I was only going for a few nights, so it wasn’t like I needed much. I made sure I had my tickets, I packed some clothes and toiletries and a thicker jacket. I then considered checking my “to pack” list which I keep on the computer (something I will post about later—it’s incredibly helpful).

I figured that I was only going for a couple days, so what could I really forget that was so important? I opted to not check my list and instead left my house. I met up with my friends on the train and we proceeded to travel to the airport in Düsseldorf. About halfway to the airport, it suddenly struck me that I had not packed my passport. I casually brought it up to my friends, and they seemed to think I was joking at first, but I had to stress to them that I was serious.

I wasn’t sure what to do. I have flown before within the European Union and not been checked for my passport before. But would that happen this time? I couldn’t know. We tried doing some quick googling on our phones, but we couldn’t find a solid answer.

I eventually decided to get out at the next stop. I hailed a taxi which I had him take me all the way back to Cologne. We got to my house and I dashed inside and grabbed my passport. My roommate was confused that I was back, and I told them what had happened so far. Not wanting to waste any time, I went back out, hopped into the taxi and we were off.

My friend had looked up train times, and there wasn’t another possible train to catch that would get me to the airport on time, so I was going to either miss my flight or I needed to take the taxi to Düsseldorf and hope he was fast enough. I settled on the latter and we took off on the highway. I remember watching the meter slowly get higher and higher. I kept thinking, OK, just don’t pass 100. OK, 120… let’s hope I get there damn soon… and so on.

We eventually pulled into the departures at the airport, and the total was glaring down at me from the ceiling. One hundred sixty-four Euros. Yes, 164€ .

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I grudgingly paid him (luckily he accepted cards, because I did not have that much cash on me), and went inside the airport. I had actually managed to get there before my friends arrived via the train, so I waited in line for them to drop off a bag my friend had.

After all that, I was actually hoping I would be checked for my passport, but as we went through security with our pre-printed boarding passes, I wasn’t checked for my ID at all.

We went to Sweden for the weekend (which I will post about next week), and then we came back. Again, I was not checked for my passport as we went through security at the airport. It was actually a little annoying that I wasn’t checked after spending so much money and causing so much stress to ensure I had it.

In the end, I could have not brought my passport at all. And considering the flights were only around eighty or so euros, I could have very well have just casually gone home, got my passport, and then got another flight. But since we only had a weekend and a later flight would have cut into that, I am glad that I still managed to catch the flight with my friends. Besides, you can always get money back, but memories are what’s valuable, and while this did hurt the wallet, it is quite a funny story lacking back on it.

I have traveled quite a lot and I have never forgotten the most important thing before—my passport, however I guess there is a first for everything. The take away message from the whole thing to me is that I will never not check my to-pack list before leaving for a trip again.

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