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Lessons Learnt From Losing My Luggage

As soon as our plane touched down in Kenya I turned my phone off from flight mode, eager to quench my social media addiction and check my emails. But immediately my excitement about arriving in Nairobi we obstructed…though we’d made it safely to our destination, my luggage had not and it was still in London…
It had never happened to me before and I was totally gutted, thinking about everything that I’d carefully planned and packed…I didn’t even have much with me as I’d packed light due to having to take several small aircraft during this trip. How did my little hold all of only 12 kg not get on board? Despite my dismay, I comforted myself with the knowledge that important items such as my laptop and camera were in our hand luggage and all the chargers were in Mr Silver’s bag. Perhaps most importantly we’d also packed the malaria tablets in his bag.

So all that was in my bag was all my clothes, underwear, toiletries, make up, shoes…you know just the necessities…

Disheartened we stepped off the plane to talk to a member of staff at Jomo Kenyatta International airport about getting my bag back. Honestly I was still mystified as to how it happened, we had once again used our air miles to travel First Class with British Airways meaning my bag had a yellow priority tag on it.
It was already 9pm at night and after an eight hour flight we were quite ready just to go to our hotel, but we headed to the lady in charge of dealing with such matters.

‘Don’t worry’ she said, ‘we’ll have your luggage in Nairobi by tomorrow night’
‘Thank you, but we’re leaving for the Masaai Mara first thing tomorrow’ I said worriedly…

There was nothing left to do but give the lady the details of where we’d be staying in Maasai and head off to find our transfer to Hemingways Nairobi hotel. By now it was nearly 10pm and nothing was open from the airport to the hotel. I crossed my fingers that there would be a shop there when we arrived…There was. But of course it wasn’t open. 
Hemingways was beautiful but it was difficult to muster my usual enthusiasm with the knowledge that I had no clean clothes for the next day…
Fortunately they had left us a very good bottle of South African Sauvignon Blanc which did do some way to easing my pain… Mustering up my travel blogger spirit, I had work to do as I was collaborating with the hotel for an Instagram Stories take over…but as soon as my work was done it was bedtime. We tucked our selves into that beautiful four-poster bed though I had a mild feeling of dread for the next day.
I woke up early to take all my photos of the hotel in the daylight, have a quick breakfast and then it was off  to Wilson Airport for our early morning flight to Maasai Mara. I was wearing the same dress I’d worn on the flight (thick wool), a pair of Mr S’s underpants (which fit scarily well…), I’d brushed my teeth with the tooth brush I’d got on the flight and of course my face was bare of makeup. I know that many people wouldn’t be phased by having no make up but for me I felt I was lacking my armour, and my face felt naked and a little vulnerable. My finger were crossed for a shop at the airport as there was no time to stop off anywhere else.
But when arrived at Wilson Airport is a small domestic airstrip and there was one small shop selling sarongs and other souvenirs. I hadn’t expected a Clinique counter but I had hoped to buy a toothbrush…With no other choice, I boarded the small aircraft out of the city and into the wilderness…
On landing our greeting from the staff at Angama Mara was incredibly welcoming but I felt embarrassed about my lack of make up and dishevelled hair. We explained the situation to the general manager who took the docket that we’d been given at the airport.

‘Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it,’ he said with a confident smile. We were taken on a tour of the hotel but I couldn’t wait to see if I could buy a change of clothes in the boutique, but when we got there all they had were t-shirts, beautiful beads and artwork.
All stunning keepsakes but nothing that I could make into an outfit, and not even any swim wear. I resigned myself to another day in my wool dress. 
Feeling quite ready for lunch and a glass of wine, we headed to the hotel’s guest pavilion for food. Though I was hanging my bare face in slight shame I soon realised all the other guests were incredibly causal and no one really cared whether I was wearing make up or not, and being a small hotel there weren’t many people anyway. I soon relaxed and began to enjoy myself a bit more, after all the hotel was exquisite and I couldn’t let my lack of possessions ruin my time here. Though when the general manager came to introduce herself, the first thing I blurted out was:

‘I don’t usually look like this!’

Our first safari was glorious, it was just a shame that I felt rather hot in my dress! And at sun down we headed back up to Angama Mara for dancing and a sunset drinks party.
I felt uncharacteristically shy but after a few drinks I soon got talking to the other guests who were so kind about the situation and lent me perfume to use instead of Mr S’s Lynx…

With a safari at sun rise the next day, we were up early. I looked at my dress folded over the back of the chair…we meet again. And though the hotel offered a free laundry service I had nothing to wear while it was being cleaned leaving me wearing the same thing three days in a row. Fortunately, Mr Silver had enough clean underpants for both of us and I once again wore some under my dress.

We headed off on our safari with hope in my heart that the bag would be there when we returned. Our morning safari was utterly thrilling and I soon forgot my worries as we enjoyed breakfast in the wilderness and spied elephants, zebra and giraffes.
But when we returned to the lodge we were greeted by the general manager.

‘It’s in your room’ he said, having been on the case for the last two days, he’d kept in touch with the airport ensuring a smooth delivery of my bag. We hurried back to the room and I zipped open my bag breathing in the crisp smell of my clean clothes. I was sooooo happy to have it back. After a long hot shower, I was put on a cool, clean and fresh dress and put on my make up, probably slightly more than necessary for the wilderness but still…
Owing to my neuroses I had instructed Mr S to not take any photos of me in my unkempt state, but now I as ready to make the most of this beautiful back drop with a few shots. Honestly, if I hadn’t got my bag back by then I was quite ready to fashion a new outfit out of one of Mr S’s t-shirts. By then I’d slightly got over not having any make up but I was desperate for some clean clothes.

I was so happy to have my bag back but the experience certainly taught me a few lessons. Bearing in mind I wasn’t in Paris or New York without my case, I was in the wilderness with no shops for miles around. That being said I thought I’d pass on a few tips that I’ll definitely be following next time.

1. Have essentials in your carry on bag

  • Clean underwear (just in case your husband’s / partner’s doesn’t fit you)!
  • Toothbrush and travel sized tooth paste
  • Make up items that you can’t live with out, though do be aware of the liquid limits for hand luggage.
  • Vital medication. This seems obvious but as malaria tablets weren’t absolutely vital to us we packed them in our checked luggage, I’m just so glad that they were in Mr S’s bag!
  • If you’re going for work, keep essentials with you.

2. Keep your valuables with you

I was so relieved that we had my laptop and camera in carry on luggage. Not only were they my most valuable items, they were also vital for blogging. I can’t quite imagine my first few days on safari could have been captured so well on my iPhone!

3. Keep in contact with the appropriate people

We were given a case number and docket to keep regarding the incident and we were told to be close to our phones in case they got in touch. Obviously this was a little harder in the wilderness so a huge thank you to the manager at Angama Mara for keeping lines of communication open as my bag had to go on both the international flight and a charter flight!

4. Relax and embrace it (a bit!) 

If it does happen to you and even if you are caught out in the wilderness bear in mind it’s still really just a #firstworldproblem and there are worst things that can happen. When I lost my bag the first thing I thought was but I’ll have no make up but after three days I realised it really didn’t matter all that much!

5. Know your Rights 

Check the airline website for the terms and conditions regarding lost luggage. For example:

  • In most cases your bag will be returned free of charge though you may need to fill out a customs form.
  • My bag was delivered straight to our room but this may not always be the case. Check the country’s laws on this matter.
  • You may be entitled to make a claim especially of anything is lost or damaged.

6. If you want to make a claim 

Make sure you check the rules of your airline. By way of an example here’s the guidelines from British Airways:

  • Report a missing bag within 21 days.
  • Report damage within 7 days of receiving the bag.
  • Check your insurance policy.
  • You can claim for essential items, damage to the baggage, damage to the contents, missing contents or a bag missing for more than 21 days.

As you can see I didn’t have the right to claim anything. But I’m a firm believer that these things happen and it’s how you solve the problem that’s important. My bag was returned to me promptly with very little fuss so there was no real need to make it into a bigger deal than it was. But I will know what to do for next time!

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Have you ever lost your luggage?