Stranded in Paris: A Lesson Learned in the Hard Way
Well, I learned that answer in the hard way: the photocopies will not even get you through the check-in point at airport. Airline will not issue you the return tickets since you don't have the official travel documents to enter your own country. What is the proper procedure if you do fall into this situation?
Here's the official website of U.S. Embassy in Paris for U.S. citizen services: https://fr.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/ Once you got an appointment on the website, you have to print out the confirmation page and bring it with you. Here we got another problem: no wallet, no money, where can you get the appointment letter printed? Ok, let's say you have some cash that was luckily left in your luggage. What kind of places will provide printing service in Paris? I have a couple of suggestions: 1. Hotels. Some large hotels have business center or printing service for a low fee. 2. Google Search "Internet Cafe". I tried the Internet cafe at Spain to print out train tickets, it was very convenient when you needed. (Beware the internet fee is charged by time, so there's no need to waste it on Facebook while you are at the Internet Cafe. )
However, in Paris, I ran out of cash, I don't have any money to print this confirmation letter for the appointment in the next day. I was desperate, and anxious. While I was wandering the streets with my husband trying to think what to do, there was this local business store, through the french windows, you can see a young lady sitting in front of her laptop with a nice shiny printer right next to her! My husband and I exchanged a look and wondered "are we really gonna do this?" It was the boldest thing we did: Two strangers walking into a store and demanding the lady to print out a letter for us!
Just kidding, we did not force her to do that, we kindly explain our situation and get her empathy about me losing green card, and poorly stranded in this country that I barely know any language of. Guess what? That young lady happened to study abroad in the U.S. before (what's the chance?!), and totally understood the despair and anxiousness when something like this happened. She printed out the letter, and wished me good luck with the appointment. My eyes were on the edge of tearing up and I couldn't stop saying Merci, Merci... Nice people are really god bless when you are in need. I will never forget that life-saving young lady.
Once you got all the paper work and talked to the consular at the embassy, they should be able to take care of your temporary travel ID from there. The only thing left to do is WAIT. It might take about 4-5 business days for you to get the approval letter, or a temporary visa in my case. If you still have some money left, it's a good opportunity to make full use of those waiting time to further explore Paris. But if you are like me, barely any money left in the pocket, those extra few days might be a little bit hard to get through. I was extremely tired from two weeks of traveling in Europe. My shoes were not happy about all those mileage that I put on them. So instead of rushing back to those touristy places, my husband and I went to free natural parks during the day and watch French TV shows at night. No fancy dining, just getting groceries at local supermarket.
|Here's me at the park, bored of all the waiting.|
I hope this blog will provide some inside look of how to survive when losing important document overseas. Hope everyone will travel safe, less hussle, and enjoy all the eventful journey and adventures ahead. Feel free to leave a comment here. I would love to hear your voices and amazing stories.