I should’ve listened to my mom

Disasters, Living Abroad, Roma

Last week I made the mistake of forgetting my wallet in a foreign country and in that moment, I recalled my mom’s wise words of always keeping emergency cash on me.

As I transition into real adulthood, I’ve come to the realization that my mom really is wonderful. So why is it always so hard for me to (begrudgingly) acknowledge when my mom is right?

When I left for college three and a half years ago, my mom told me to always have cash stashed away somewhere, just in case of an emergency. And every time I visit home, she always reminds me of this very thing.

So on the advice of those wiser than me, please make sure to:

  1. Have emergency cash tucked away somewhere in your purse, jacket, shoe, anything.

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    Mom, I should’ve listened to you earlier. Emergency cash is a must.

  2.  Check that you have enough cash before ordering. Or check if the place takes card. – Natalie Kennedy, blogger of An American In Rome

Many places in Italy are cash only and you really don’t want to be in the situation I was in. Gif created by HenryK788 on Imgur..

Let me be clear. Liz and I were not trying to dine-and-dash. I don’t know if it was the exhaustion, forgetfulness, or both, but we somehow both managed to forget our wallets on that fateful Wednesday. So here we were, sitting outside at a corner table of a café in Monti, unable to pay a €6 bill.


Our coffees that totaled out to 6 euro

Liz nervously laughed at our unfortunate predicament. I was terrified of what would happen to us. Would we have to wash dishes in the back? There wasn’t enough time for us to go back to our apartments and come back to Monti to pay our bill before class.

The older Italian woman with the red hair stood behind the register, menacingly communicating to us in Italian. She did not speak English and we had no clue what she was saying. She pointed to my phone and I proceeded to hand it over. Her intent was to keep my phone until we came back with the money, preventing us dining and dashing.

A few days later, I was sitting at a different café, Er Baretto. I asked George Eskindar, the waiter, about situations like these. “How do you know if they [the customers] are lying?

“From the eyes. The eyes say everything.”

Luckily for us, the other waiters talked the red haired woman into letting us go. They were extremely kind and told us not to worry about it. To this day, I still wonder if it was the terror in our eyes or our distressed demeanor that softened their hearts to let us go.

Nonetheless, I have managed to learn from this horrifying experience. After talking to expert traveler Natalie, I’ve come up with a checklist of what to always carry with you.

Before you leave the house, please double-check that you have:

1. Cash and/or a bank card

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I know it’s rare to carry cash on ourselves back in the States, but it’s crucial to have cash here in Europe

2. Various forms of ID

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This means a passport or passport copy, your license and/or student ID (being a student comes in handy in many places,) and your approved documentation that states you’re legally allowed to be here.


3. Your keys

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“Locksmiths are ridiculously expensive. I mean, 300 euro to come on a weekend? The one time this happened to me, I waited around until Monday to pay just 50 euro. I also never forgot my keys again.” – Natalie

4. Your phone


Self-explanatory really. I can’t even count the number of times where I absolutely needed to get in contact with my parents and they didn’t have their phones on them.

5. A metro/bus pass

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Because minimal walking. Also please make sure to have the receipt for the bus pass with you.

Now that you have this list and the wisdom of the more experienced, go forth and hope that you don’t repeat my mistake. Remember to actually apply your mom’s advice to your life and give her a call soon. I know I’ll be calling mine this weekend.

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