I’m sure we’ve all done it at least once in our lives – either locking the keys in the car or forgetting the keys before leaving home through the self-locking front door. Well, this is the story of how our rooftop tent saved us from forking out a fortune to unlock our house after we left our keys inside.

Excitement makes you forgetful

It was a beautiful, summery Friday evening – we’d just got home from work full of energy and excited for the weekend! My dad was visiting us and we’d planned to take him out for dinner and enjoy the evening in his company.

Unfortunately, our excitement at the prospect of so many good things made us a little forgetful and perhaps more than a little careless.

We left home on foot with my dad and his girlfriend to walk into the city. We didn’t have a care in the world. After a lovely evening of trying international dishes at the twilight food market we started plodding home. 15 minutes later we were back standing at our front door with no keys in our hands!!!

That sinking feeling when you realise

Somehow we’d BOTH left our sets of keys inside. And stupidly enough, we hadn’t yet got around to creating a spare copy in case something like this actually happened. Cue frustration and agony!

We whipped the phone out and called around to see if any after-hours locksmiths would be willing to come and help us out at 9pm on a Friday night. 3 calls later and the cheapest quote we’d gotten was $380! Supposedly Friday nights are a popular night to lock yourself out of home.. and seemingly a night that locksmiths would prefer not to work. This combination isn’t good for a couple saving up to drive around the world as it means the prices for unlocking your door are hiked up quite a bit.

So what do you do?

We just couldn’t justify spending $380 (this amount could pay for an entire week of our trip) to open our front door. We didn’t have a spare key anywhere that we could fall back on and hadn’t left any windows ajar enough to sneakily break back in (which is great to know from a security perspective, but on that night we were kind of hoping we had).


This is where improvisation comes into play. Luckily for us our wonderful van was awaiting us…. but wait a second – those keys were left inside too!!! So we were left with finding a way to improvise using things we had inside our little day-to-day car (that thankfully we could get into) and whatever was in our yard or on top of our van. Thank god for the rooftop tent.

Rooftop tent to the rescue

While scrounging around in our day-to-day car we found a bottle of water, a phone charger, a light blanket and a jumper. We grabbed everything, took them to the van and popped up the rooftop tent. Although it was chilly outside, as soon as we entered the canvas canopy we were warm and comfortable. Add on the jumper, blanket and our body heat and we were quite cosy.


After a lovely night’s sleep we awoke to the sun and got about getting into the house. We trekked to the closest locksmith, told them our predicament and asked how much it would be to unlock the front door. Their first answer was $250. A little cheaper than the night before but still quite pricey for a budget savvy couple saving up for the trip of our lives.

Luck was with us, yet again

Luckily for us, the locksmith’s curiosity encouraged him to ask us how we managed to lock ourselves out in the first place. We proceeded to tell him the story and share how grateful we were that we’d had the rooftop tent to sleep in.

“Wait, wait, wait,” he said. “You did what?”

After telling him our strategy to escape the locksmith’s Friday night premium fees he replied with – “Most people just come in here hungover on a Saturday morning. Usually they’ve locked themselves out due to their drunkenness the night before. I’ll open your front door for $130. Sound good?”

What sweet music to our ears. 20 minutes later we were inside our apartment.

So the moral to this story is if you ever lock yourself out of home, just tell the locksmith you slept on top of your car the night before!