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Lessons Learned From Lost Luggage: How to Cope With Traveling Mishaps

Everything happens for a reason. Right? Well, that's the motto I live by. It may or may not be true for you, but it works for me. It helps me put things into perspective and see everything in life as a learning opportunity.
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Everything happens for a reason. Right? Well, that's the motto I live by. It may or may not be true for you, but it works for me. It helps me put things into perspective and see everything in life as a learning opportunity.

I went on an international cruise with my family not too long ago. There were 10 of us, so it took quite a bit of coordination. I have always wanted to take a trip like this, so I can't tell you how excited I was - especially about showing my kids parts of the world most people never get to see!

We flew from Detroit to Toronto. And then Toronto to Barcelona, Spain, which was our first stop. We're waiting at the baggage claim. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 bags arrive. Then the conveyor belts stops. Uh-oh. Not good!! Anyone who has lost their luggage can relate to the "pit in your stomach" feeling that you get when you realize your bag didn't arrive. Yep. It was mine. Everyone got their bag but ME.

So I marched over to the lost baggage office and filed a report. They said it would arrive two days later at our first port. Nope. Then the next port. Nope. Then the next. Nope. After that, I figured it would never arrive in time, so I just called and told them to send it back to Detroit. They assured me it would arrive the day we got back. Nope. And do you know when I finally got it back? Over two months later. And most of that time, the airline had no idea where it was. Huh? Interesting. Not sure how that happens in this day and age when everything is electronically tracked. But it happened! I still can't believe that I actually got it back. I had just resigned myself to the fact that everything in that suitcase was gone forever. Believe it or not, this wasn't the first time that an airline temporarily lost my luggage. I even had it happen on my honeymoon!

My traveling mishaps don't stop with lost luggage. I've had other things go wrong too, like having my credit card declined in Italy. Apparently, you have to tell the credit card companies that you are traveling internationally so they don't think the card or your identity has been stolen online. On one hand, that makes complete sense! On the other hand, it was quite unfortunate when I didn't have any foreign currency and couldn't charge on my credit card. If I didn't have my family there, I am not sure what I would have done! Because of that, I did some research on how to prevent a problem like this in the future - because I was planning to see a friend of mine who was going to move to the Middle East for a job. Good thing I learned my lesson before it happened again!

I've also had many other friends who have had traveling mishaps. Some examples include having crazy things happen while doing adventure travel (such as thrill-seeker Ryan Kannett), not being able to go on a trip because of illness (and no insurance), and showing up to your summer apartment in London and having it being filthy dirty. But the good news is that these things can be prevented with a little bit of planning.

The reason I'm telling you all of this is because anyone who has had traveling mishaps has three choices:

(1) Let it ruin their trip
(2) Try to plan for/prevent it
(3) Laugh about it

#1 and #3 are all about attitude, because there are some things that you just can't plan or prevent (like lost luggage). During my mishaps, I always chose #2 and #3. How did I laugh about it? I just did. I cracked jokes. So did all of my traveling companions. It was simply a decision. It could be either tragic or funny. It was better for me to choose funny.

I always look upon these happenings in life as an opportunity to "practice what I preach." I frequently teach and write about changing your thinking and attitudes. And I'm put to the test in life (as we all are), and so I choose to respond the best I can.

Even though traveling mishaps aren't fun, I still always enjoy my vacations when they do occur. Do you know why? Because there are a LOT worse things that can happen. Sure, I was not happy that I packed all my favorite clothes in that lost bag (lesson learned - don't do THAT again!). But at least me and my traveling companions are all happy and healthy and have great memories. Yes, even the "lost luggage" memories can be good. Because in retrospect, it makes for a better story that way. Right?

On the even brighter side, I also came up with a lot more to write about because of these experiences (not that I am ever at a loss for something to say!).