Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Travel Mishaps: Lost Luggage

14 September 2014

[![The Amazing Disco Elevator with strobing lights. Burj Khalifa, Dubai, 2012.](/images/2014/09/disco-elevator-700x470.jpg)](/images/2014/09/disco-elevator.jpg)The Amazing Disco Elevator with strobing lights. Burj Khalifa, Dubai, 2012.

Eventually, if you travel long enough, you’ll lose a piece of luggage. Sometimes this results in the somewhat related travel phenomenon, the travel meltdown.
Rick’s take on these kinds of things is that it usually happens when you’re tired and it’s what he calls a stepwise disaster. No single step is bad, but at some point, something gets missed. Despite everyone’s best intentions, a disaster occurs.
In this particular case, Rick helped my mom bring her luggage down to the lobby, while I sat and watched Rick’s and my luggage. We travel together a lot, so we’re used to what each other carries. My mom, however, was carrying an additional piece in the form of a new bag.
The person who called the taxi asked for her to wait by the door to see if the taxi came. Then we all went to the taxi, inadvertently leaving her large bag behind. Sadly, we didn’t figure out what happened exactly until just after the ship pulled away from Lisbon. Since we weren’t returning to Lisbon, this left us with a problem. ## Ways to Ensure You Have All Your Things

I’m a numbers person, so I favor the numbers method: I’m making sure I have my three (or whatever number) items at any point. I ensure that I don’t take out or put away any items, so that the count remains constant through one segment of my trip (e.g., transferring items from one’s hotel room to a cruise ship stateroom).
Your method doesn’t have to be numbers. It could be colors of things: blue, purple, red, black. So long as you have a specific method that works for you.
Furthermore, check the count (or whatever your method) at every single point: leaving the hotel, what gets put into the taxi, leaving the taxi, boarding the ship, etc. Obviously, in cases where porters will take your luggage, your system needs to account for those pieces at that time.

Two Strategies

I’ve sometimes said that packing extra underwear in my carryon is a talisman against losing my luggage, but I say that jokingly. You’re far more used to having a carryon with you, and thus you’re both more likely (more opportunity) and less likely (because you’re using to having it with you) to lose it.
This leads to a more general solution to the problem: cross-packing. Take a packing cube and put one change of clothes in it with one or two changes of underwear. If everyone traveling (well, up to about four people) does this and one piece of luggage is lost, then you’ve got a suitcase with items from four people that’s lost, but everyone has at least three changes of clothes. This works best if each person’s packing cubes are color coded.

So What Happens When You Lose Your Luggage?

People on a round-trip usually pick up their lost luggage on their return through the same place. If you’re not going back there, generally it’s sent via some package service like FedEx, UPS, or DHL. On a ship, you can have it sent to the ship’s agent in a future port.
Except in my mom’s case, it was sent to the ship’s agent in Málaga, Spain, arriving the day before the ship did. Then the agent, whose business it is to receive things for the ship (and occasionally handle passengers and crew who miss the ship, as well as other duties like dealing with port charges, etc.) decided to refuse the package. So, despite having been sent from Lisbon, Portugal to Málaga, Spain, her suitcase is currently in Köln, Germany.

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