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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!

PIN FOR LATER:

Have you ever lost your luggage? 

  • What a nightmare, Angie! Thank goodness this has never happened to me (it happened to my husband in Japan though but he got his luggage the next day) but I always take a spare pair of clothes in my hand luggage (and any designer items) ‘just in case’! I didn’t think of medication though so that’s a good tip!

    • I will always pack the just in case stuff! I didn’t even have my contact lenses with me!

  • Ahh that does put a bit of a dampener on things. My sister is a walking talking travel disaster, miraculously around her flights are cancelled, her bags are lost and she ends up sleeping on airport floors but because it does seem to happen to her so often, she’s completely unfazed by it all!

    • That’s awful but good on her for getting on with it! I could not cope with sleeping on the airport floor.

  • Oh no, loosing luggage is the worst feeling ever. I’m so glad you got yours back fairly soon and had all the belongings intact. I lost mine twice, once coming back from the States. Ironically, I saw my suitcases on the tarmac right by the airplane as they were boarding us, but they mysteriously didn’t make it onto the plane with me. Thankfully, Turkish Airlines was very efficient in getting the luggage back to me in a day. Although I didn’t loose my luggage while flying on Ukranian Airlines to Barcelona, both my mom and I found our bags had been opened and jewelry taken out (it was fake, but I guess they thought it was real) upon arrival to the hotel. I was so mad! Since then I carry all my valuables in the carry on.

    • I generally don’t take many valuable things with me but that must have felt awful to get your jewellery taken. Even if it wasn’t valuable, it’s pretty horrible to feel violated like that.

  • that was a tricky situation!luckily you got your stuff before the end of your trip.

  • What a nightmare, I’m glad you finally got your bag back. I’d always rather travel with just hand luggage but Paul likes to take a suitcase and I fear this could happen to us one day. To be fair, we always carry the camera equipment and laptops in our hand luggage too

    • Yeah, I do prefer to take a suitcase but the annoying thing was my bag was so small I could have easily taken in as hand luggage!! Thank god I had my camera.

  • I have almost had to borrow Pumpkin’s underwear too once…then found one last pair in my own but I feel a lot more reassured knowing that the thought of borrowing his doesn’t make me sound to weird if needed in the future!! After our 4 hours in the immigration queue in Tokyo, I also learned to always buy a water bottle once you’re through security and save some or to keep one of the ones the airline gives you because you never know just how many hours you might be standing in an airport queue without a drop!

    • Ha! And same back. That is so true, I’ve been left thirsty in a queue. Plus Mr S won’t let me go to the loo when get off a flight in case we end up at the back of a queue!

  • I will definitely be putting some essentials in my hand luggage after this! So glad you got your bag back reasonably soon – how kind of the manager to be so helpful!

    • I would highly recommend it! I’ll alway have a tooth brush with me. The one from the flight was hard and horrible.

  • Losing my luggage is my worst nightmare, I’m always most panicked standing at the luggage carousel.

    Victoria x

    FlorenceandMary.com

  • Haha Angie I love you but bloody hell I thought you were going to say you’d actually LOST your luggage, not been without it for a night! The same thing has happened to me a couple of times, bloody annoying I know but I’m always grateful to get it back! Worst time was mine and Michael’s first night of our 5 week Central America tour with no comfort of knowing if we’d ever get it as they couldn’t track it! We wore the same sweaty shit for 3 days! Agree on valuables though… I do that the best I can but then stuff I should still have in my carry-on I put in my suitcase otherwise I’d literally be carrying 30kg of electronic goods… Glad you got it back anyway! Love AP xo

    Andrea’s Passions

    • Ummm it was two nights :p !!! OMG your Central America saga sounds awful!! Thanks hon, yes it was such a lesson to me.

  • Oh Angie, I’m so sorry but this was actually one of the funniest things I’ve read in some time! My boyfriend is always fastidious about making sure we pack a basic change of clothes in our carry on, I used to do it begrudgingly but now I will always, always listen to him!

    • I actually hoped people would find it funny, especially the underpants bit…I actually I asked for a bigger hand luggage bag for Christmas so that I could pack more in it.

  • Not getting your bags is the worst. I swear they see my name and toss my luggage off the plane I don’t get mine that often! The first time it happened to me I was in high school and attending a conference in Mexico and had to try to cobble together a nice outfit from the other girls on the trip who weren’t my size haha. Since then I always pack some spares and my favourite outfits in my carry on, especially when I go back to NY in the summer as it’s always much hotter and that’s when I rarely get my bags!

    • I kept thinking I wish I was with a girl and then I could borrow something! I can’t believe it’s happened to you so many times.

  • My worst nightmare! Seems that you made the best of the situation – wearing Mr. S’s underwear made me laugh. Been there, definitely had to do that once or twice! 😀 😀 😀

    • Ahhh glad I made you laugh hon! I really hope there’s more shops around if it happens again.

  • Francesca

    So sorry this happened to you! ? Especially given where you were, but I have to say o work in travel insurance claims and I cannot stress enough to anyone who sees this not to put your valuables in your hold luggage! Always keep them with you in hand luggage because they won’t be covered in any damage, loss or theft otherwise! Good luck for all your future travel, I’m so glad BA helped you get it back asap

    • That’s so good to know Francesca, thank you so much for letting me know! I generally don’t bring much of value with me but I would be devastated if anything happened to my camera.

  • I have always worried about this when traveling!! What a bummer that you started your trip so stressed out, but I’m glad it finally got to you!

    • I know! It’s like you’re so excited for it to start and then you feel deflated!

  • I am always worried about this, especially when we were traipsing round India. If I fly with work it is always carry on only and the hotel does my laundry. Otherwise my little longchamp bag is perfect for one day’s stuff!

  • OMG this reminded me of when you almsost lost your engagement ring as well! I’m glad that and your luggage got back to you, though! =)
    My grandma’s grandma’s wheelchair was lost once and when the airline sent it back it was okay. However, one time my cousin’s luggage was left and when we got it back it was a different person’s bag! The agony of waiting to hear back from the airline can be really stressful but I’m glad you got yours okay in the end! =)

    • Yeah!! The silver lining is a great story for the blog ;). That’s terrible about your Grandma’s wheelchair and cousin’s bag!

  • My grandad taught me well, we always used to mix up our clothes on family trips so there was always a spare set of clothes in someone else’s suitcase. I still insist we do it to this day. Of course, it doesn’t help if both/all get lost but I’m a superstitious creature and we haven’t lost one yet. You can guarantee though that as soon as we don’t do it, that’s when it all goes wrong.

    Lisa | Not Quite Enough

    • I’ve had this tip a few times from people, I’d never thought of it before but it’s definitely something that I’ll be doing!

  • Kavita

    Like some of the other commenters we always split clothes between two cases (unless we are only taking one between us). This way it’s a slightly less nightmare scenario if one case goes missing, though it’d still be a pain. The rest, such as crucial did in hand luggage, is what we do too though sometimes it’s hard to balance against too much hand luggage!!!

    • Yes! And also the rule with the liquid make it easier to put toiletries in your suitcase! Hard to know what to do!

  • Lucy

    This would be my idea of hell you did very well to keep happy and go with the flow. I’m glad that it turned up and you only had to wait two days. The scenery and beautiful setting I’m sure made up for the stress and upset Lucy x

    • Yes! Mr S kept telling me off for moaning and I reminded him some people wouldn’t even leave the hotel room without make up.

  • Haha, I actually had to wear my husband’s underpants once on holiday due to lost luggage, so I totally feel your pain. His were too big for me, though, and I had to manage them under my ridiculously tight skinny jeans! I also know exactly what you mean about the makeup, especially when you’re expected to take so many holiday photos and feel like your face is a big, blotchy mess! Ah, the shame of it all XD xx

  • This is a great post Angie, I really enjoyed reading it as a kind of “behind the scenes of blogging” post alongside some indispensable tips. Hooray for Mr S’s underpants! Hope you have a lovely time celebrating your meeting anniversary 🙂 xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua | Life, Travel, Italy

  • Rob Cherry

    Whenever we travel we split our clothes into 2 and put one pile in the others suitcase. So far, so good.

  • Siân

    I was so pleased when I got to the part where your bag had been found! I had a lost suitcase once in deepest darkest 90s Russia and my friend lost hers as we were flying to Peru to go trekking. Since then, I always carry the items you’ve listed in my hand luggage too. Along with a swimsuit. My husband thinks this is nuts! But swimsuits are hard to replace if you travel off the beaten path. I feel the same as you about make up & so that’s always in there, even on a short weekend break. By the way, I think airlines are supposed to cover essentials while your bag is delayed.

    • You’re totally right! In the end we didn’t have time to use the pool or anything before I got my stuff back but I would have been incredibly frustrated not to have a bikini if we did.

  • Oh the joys of travelling ?

  • I’ve never lost my luggage nor had it delayed, knock on wood – the very idea of being separated from my hair tongs, makeup, skincare, and carefully curated outfits for the trip would be a First World Disaster! I laughed at Luxy for having a spare set of clothes etc in her Cuba hand luggage “Just in case” but you know, I think she has the right idea…x

    My Complete Skincare Collection, Day & Night Routine, and more… – Posh, Broke, & Bored

    • You’d be fabulous with or without the carefully selected outfits!

  • ninegrandstudent

    This is my absolute worst nightmare!

    NINEGRANDSTUDENT: A Lifestyle Blog

  • Oh hun this is such a nightmare when it happens! Thankfully I’ve only experienced it once (three years ago when I last went to Lima) but it’s happened to my colleagues sooo many times. I now always take two changes of underwear and a set of fresh clothes and pjs in my hand luggage – I always take 1 wheeley and a handbag and basically always stuff my wheeley full of clothes and toiletries to take on board lol! So pleased everything was safely returned to you!

    • That’s such a good idea lovely! What was so frustrating was my bag was so small it could have easily been hand luggage!

  • Tilly Horseman

    Arghhh….nightmare! I can never relax fully on a hol or trip until I have my luggage at the other end! I have only had my luggage lost on route home, so I wasn’t too bothered as I had everything at home! But I have always packed 2 days spare underwear, a spare top, toothbrush and paste, all chargers and valuables and of course medication etc, in my hand luggage, so I feel I am always prepared! Another great tip is if you’re travelling with friend, family member etc, always switch an outfit or two with them in their luggage, so should one case go missing, you have spare clothes in the other case and vice versa…
    Fingers crossed it never stops happens again hey?!

    • I’m definitely going to do the switching trick next time! Such a useful tip.

  • Melissa Beare

    That’s terrible! I always keep my toothbrush, extra underwear, one extra t-shirt and some makeup essentials with me in my carry-on (concealer, mascara and lip gloss). My other tip is to save sample sizes of perfume and hair and skin care products you receive and that can be brought in your carry on – that can really help you feel somewhat normal until you get your usual things. Also, big sunglasses come in handy if your makeup goes missing!

    • That’s such a good idea to have the little samplers! I didn’t even have sunglasses!! Such a nightmare.

  • Oh Angie how annoying!! I would be the exact same as you without my make-up – I hate being caught off-guard without it! So glad to hear you managed to get it back in the end!
    Lauren xx
    Elle Bloggs

  • oh my gosh, nightmare. It’s never happened to me (yet..) but my mom always told me to keep some make up, a tooth brush and a change of t-shirt and underwear. A friend of mine had that happened when we moved to Europe for a year, his luggage took nearly two weeks to arrive, it was the worst!