When We Became Pitkins Without Passports

Travelling is amazing.

We’ve been so lucky to have had enjoyed so many incredible experiences and create so many memories on this trip. However we’ve also had our fair share of challenges and a few days ago we faced our hardest time yet.

After a great day visiting some of Tulum’s best cenotes, Dos Ojos and Casa Cenote, then having nachos and guacamole by the beach (when in Mexico), we discovered that we’d lost yet another GoPro. We’d left the restaurant, headed back to Tulum, arrived in the hostel, then realised it wasn’t there. In a panic we rushed back to the restaurant and Casa Cenote, looking for the orange dry bag which had both the GoPro and Joe’s mobile phone inside.

No luck.

We searched everywhere, even offering the staff money if they managed to find it.

Still no luck.

Feeling defeated and very emotional, we went along to the police station to report the loss then went back to the hostel. We’d only been back half an hour when our next nightmare began.

I’d had a quick shower, got changed, and decided to sit with Joe in the chill out area outside our room (a cabin style hut with a straw roof). I was out the room for 10 minutes when Joe went back to get the police report.

“Fran, I think we’ve been robbed!”

My heart was in my mouth and all I could think was, please let this not be true.

When I went into the room there was a huge hole in the roof – the palm leaves had been pushed in and there was debris all over the floor. When I looked down next to me, my handbag and our other dry bag was gone.

I just lost control and was totally hysterical. It was like an out of body experience, I became a wild, crazy woman. I ran to the hostel owners, screaming that we’d had everything taken. All of our valuables were gone – our passports, both our wallets, my camera, our passport holders with extra cash in, all our bank cards, everything. Our hire car keys were in that bag. Our magnets and other souvenirs were in there too. We didn’t have a single peso.

The police came and to be honest, they were pretty useless. They asked us what was missing and reported it up the chain, then took us to the local Ministeria Publica to get a police report. That was it. We ended up speaking to the same officer as earlier when we reported our GoPro and phone missing. It turns out that the 300 peso ‘fee’ for our earlier report was a bribe and when we pulled him up on it, he wouldn’t return the money. We didn’t even have money to get back to the hostel, the officer had to give us a lift.

And we were in for a long night. Because the hire car keys had been in my bag, we were worried that the thief would come back to take the car. When we tried to contact the rental company, we realised the 24 hour emergency number was on our documentation in the car. We had no other choice but to sit on the doorstep of the hostel until 7am and watch the car.

7am became 1pm because the spare keys for the car were in Cancún, so someone had to find the keys and drive the 2 hours to Tulum to meet us. Getting rid of the car after spending 14 hours on the hostel doorstep was such a huge relief.

Among all the chaos and emotion, we had some amazing support from family, friend and strangers. At 3am UK time, my parents cancelled our bank cards. My brother rang up the consulate and banks to find out if they could help us. Joe’s parents, sister and brother-in-law tried to find ways to wire money to us. While we were waiting for the car rental company to meet us, our Aussie pals Bonnie and Brittany came to our rescue with nuts, chocolate and some pesos. And Lucia, the lady working in the hostel, sat with us during the night and even gave us 200 pesos to pay for our bus tickets to the consulate in Cancún. Other people from the hostel offered us money, lent us phone chargers, and kept us company. We couldn’t have got through it all without the help and kindness of these people and our loved ones. Thank you to you all, from the bottom our hearts.

Pitkins With Emergency Passports

So what happened next?

The next few days weren’t easy. Trying to get money, even through money transfer shops like Western Union and Moneygram, without a form of ID is practically impossible. We had to rely on the help of an American couple in our hostel to receive a money transfer on our behalf. Then we booked an Air BnB in Cancún (because we could pay online using our bank card at home rather than needing cash) and headed there to visit the British Consulate.

After a couple of visits (and having to convince the passport office I am who I say I am because my new photo was so different to my old one), we were given emergency passports valid for our flight back to the UK from Mexico City. As of this morning, we’ve been able to get more money through Western Union using our new ID.

The past week has probably thrown more challenges at us than we’ve ever had to deal with but we finally think things are looking up and we’re looking forward to the next 3 weeks exploring more of Mexico. However, our priorities have changed and we’re going to have longer stays in less places, and take everything a bit slower. We’re definitely ready for some proper relaxation time!

Have you ever been robbed while travelling? Do you have any advice? We’d love to know your tips so please leave us a comment. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for more travel photos.


    • It was awful and I hate to have regrets, but I can’t help thinking back and wishing we’d done something differently – stayed in the room or at least taken my bag with me. At least we’re ok, that’s the main thing!


  1. You only find out the hard way that you need to email yourself a scan of your passport and other important docs (such as flight tickets) so that if they go awol/robbed etc, you can log onto email and prove who you are to consultate etc….. i was done in Namibia…my blue passport was stolen and i was given a red EU one instead by the British High Commission….next nightmare was at the exit border into South Africa, i was told i had to go back to point of entry to get an’entry stamp’ even though they could see that my passport was issued only days before in Namibia… the guards refused to give me an entry stamp…. after much cogitating i realised i hadnt passed a brown envelope to the guard, so i went to a different border point, put $20 in the passport and the guard gladly stamped an exit stamp and let me pass…. be prepared to do the same!


    • I know, it’s so hard when these things happen! Luckily we had a scanned copy of our passports and have been uploading our photos to the cloud, but we lost a lot of photos from Nicaragua and Guatemala unfortunately. We’re the same in that our entry card was in our passports, so we might have issues at the airport when we leave. Hopefully they accept our police report which says we got them stolen!


      • Glad you had scans of passports…. make sure you have some currency inn case of bother at exit point! im loving your blogs and im defo inspired for Guatemala…. take care..


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