What to Do If You Lose Your Car Keys While on a Vacation

Whether renting a car on holiday or taking your vehicle, lost car keys on vacation trips are a significant hassle, but you don’t have to let that completely ruin your getaway.

Losing car keys is a very frustrating experience, worse still if it happens when traveling. Losing or misplacing car keys for the car you are renting can be even more stressful, especially if you have to fork out more cash to the rental car company for the lost car keys.

In this post, we look at the best way to handle lost car keys on vacation and help you get through this ‘road bump’ so it doesn’t derail your whole trip, and hopefully, you can still enjoy your holiday.

This post covers exactly what to do if you do lose your keys in order to retrace your steps to find them again and even covers searching for a reputable automative locksmith to help you.

Man's hands holding the keys to start the engine of a car
Lost car keys on a vacation is a major hassle, but don’t panic, you need to remain calm at all costs. Stress can be highly damaging to your health and will prevent you from thinking clearly.

Don’t panic

First of all, try to stay calm and do not panic. Although losing your car keys may mean cutting your trip short, avoid panicking because it only worsens your situation. 

Also, if you are frustrated and in a state of mind where you can’t keep calm, it will be more challenging to think clearly to handle the situation. 

Staying calm and composed allows you to retrace your steps and help figure out where you may have misplaced your car keys.

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• Stolen or lost goods
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Retrace Your Last Steps 

When you have calmed down a bit and have a clear mind, try to think about where you last saw the keys. 

When you got out of your car, and what you were doing. Were you holding other things in your hands, like your mobile, wallet, water bottle, or anything else? You might set your keys down somewhere because your hands were so full. 

You might have just misplaced them and forgot where you set them down and need to search the last few places you visited and stopped by.

Helpful Tip: I highly recommend using an Apple Airtag for your car keys to make them easier to locate if lost or stolen.

woman holding car keys, a water bottle and a mobile
If you were carrying a few other things in your hand, you might have set your keys down somewhere because your hands were full. Retrace your steps and you may find them again.

Ask for Help

You can always ring the places you last visited (restaurants, shops where you last visited and you remember your keys were with you) and ask the people there if they remember you and then if they can spot a set of keys around their store or diner.

It also helps to give the person you are asking for help from when you visited their store or diner to help jog their memory.

You could say something like:

“Hello, my name is [Your Name]. I was at [Store/Diner Name] earlier today. I may have left my keys at your establishment.

I’m the [description of your appearance/maybe the color clothes you were also wearing or your race] person (or mention your group if applicable). I was wondering if anyone has found or reported finding any keys.

 I really appreciate your help with this. If you happen to find the keys, could you please give me a call?”

If you are on a family vacation check what you packed, ask around, and try to search where you last saw the keys. 

Just know that there could also be a possibility that your keys have been stolen and not lost.

📖 Recommended Reading: If you’re looking for more useful information, check out What to Do if Your Rental Car is Stolen?

Give it a little more time

Before you say you have lost your car keys, give yourself more time to remember where you placed them or saw them the last time. Search everywhere, including in the car itself, if you have it with you, because locking car keys inside the car is a common scenario.

If you have lost the car keys for your rental car during your trip, that is more of an immediate problem. 

But still, wait a while. The keys may turn up, and the person you spoke to asking for assistance may contact you with the good news that your keys have been found!

Research a local locksmith

If you can’t find a spare key and retracing your steps doesn’t work, you may need to contact a local locksmith. 

Locksmiths can often make a replacement key or provide other solutions to help you regain access to your car. 

Be prepared to show identification and proof of ownership.

When you lose your car keys or your chain of keys (that includes your house keys, too!) when traveling or on vacation, that’s more of an emergency problem. That means you should search for a 24/7 emergency locksmith to help you out of the situation as soon as possible.

They can cut you a new key, rekey the locks, or replace your car locks. Ensure they are trustworthy, licensed, insured, and reliable before they change or rekey your locks.

Book Your Flight

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Book Your Accommodation

You can book your hotel, or resort with HOTELS.COM. OR, If you’re looking for a hostel or cheaper options, make sure to check out HOSTEL WORLD.

Get Travel Insurance

I always prioritize getting travel insurance before traveling, I use VISITORS COVERAGE (best for everyone).

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Check out this TRAVEL TIPS page for the best tricks to get the most out of your journey.

Keep the Contact Information for that Locksmith 

Scams are common, so you have to do a bit of background research before hiring a locksmith.

car keys white background
You may need to see a locksmith, but check their background first, and always call legit business. Avoid getting random people to handle your lost car key issue!

Even if you have spare keys, you must change the locks or rekey because you never know who found your lost rental car keys and can break into your home or car. 

Even after replacing your keys, ensure you call a locksmith to rekey your locks once you get home. This is mainly if you lose your house keys attached to a key chain with your car keys.

You can search for a locksmith in my area on Google to find a reliable professional nearby. It may also be good to file an insurance claim if you suspect your keys were stolen during your trip. 

lost car key finder apple tag

Top Choice

The easiest way to prevent losing your car keys on vacation is to use a key finder gadget

Get a key finder before you start your journey

Losing Rental Car Keys While on Vacation

Losing the keys to your rental car while on vacation can be a stressful situation, but there are steps you can take to address it and get back on track. 

Firstly, you should follow the same steps from above:

i) Stay calm and think clearly. Stressing out doesn’t help the situation

ii) Retrace your steps in your mind and think about what you were doing and if you were holding a bunch of other things in your hand the last time you had the rental car keys

iii) Ask for help from people who work or were at the last places you visited where you remember having your rental car keys with you

But instead of looking for a locksmith as the next step, you need to contact the rental car company if you can’t find your keys.

iv) Contact the rental car company immediately to inform them of the situation. They can guide what to do next. The contact information for the rental company should be in your rental agreement.

To avoid similar situations in the future, consider using a keychain or lanyard to keep the rental car keys secure, and make a habit of double-checking that you have them with you before leaving any location.

You can also check for Roadside Assistance. If your rental car has roadside assistance in the rental agreement, contact them to see if they can help you with a replacement key or lockout service.

man handholding a car keys
Check if your rental car company has roadside assistance before you sign the agreement. This could come in handy in case of losing your car keys on a vacation.

v) Contact your travel insurance provider. If you have travel insurance, check if it covers lost or stolen rental car keys. If it does, they may be able to assist with replacement costs or other related expenses.

As always recommended here at Travel Experta, taking out travel insurance before your vacation is a good idea.

I trust that the above steps will get you back on track if you face lost car keys on vacation, whether traveling in your vehicle or renting a car.

But below are some extra tips that should be very helpful, too!

Extra Tips to Handle Lost Car Keys on Vacation

Most of the time, you should be able to find your keys again, and most of the time, you probably will find them in the car itself, in the pockets or pants you were wearing, or at a table at a shop or restaurant you were visiting.

But if the car keys were stolen or you suspect they were stolen, you should file a police report (especially if you lost rental car keys). The rental car company or your insurance provider will require this documentation.

Also, be mindful that replacing car keys can be expensive, so be prepared for the associated costs. These costs can include locksmith fees, replacement essential fees, and potential reprogramming of electronic keys.

As an extra tip, you should try to keep identifying information on the keys. If you are traveling, you must ask those around if they have spotted your car keys. The better if the lost rental car keys have some identifying information on them, like a notable key chain.

An even better tip would be to use an Apple Airtag for your car keys or a similar device to make finding your keys easier!

Disclosure: This blog post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission for any purchases made through the links. Your trust is important to us, and we ensure that all products or services we recommend meet or exceed our editorial standards.

Last Updated on December 6, 2023

One thought on “What to Do If You Lose Your Car Keys While on a Vacation”

  1. We recently had our keys, lost or stolen in Costa Rica. Replacing the keys ended up costing many hours as well as $600. The company would not allow us to use a local locksmith nor even get a replacement from the dealership. They said only their key would work because it has some kind of a chip in it. Both AAA and Visa said that replacing that type of a key should cost between $200 to $300, but of course they marked it all up. Costa Rica requires very expensive car insurance about $500 for less than a week on top of other insurance, but it does not cover negligence, which includes lost or stolen keys. The key finder may have helped us. But what I really realized is that the company could have literally charged us anything they wanted, and we had no recourse. Which travel insurance covers the cost of lost and stolen keys in this scenario?

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