Losing things is an occupational hazard when you travel. No matter how careful you are, sometimes there are just too many things on your mind – or your mind is in too many places.
I have left my glasses on a wall in Portofino, Italy, while I rushed to catch a boat, and my prescription sunglasses in the seat-back pocket of an aircraft in Kenya. A few hats have gone amiss here and there; earlier this year, I left a purse on the counter of a bakery in Switzerland, before rushing to catch a train to the airport. Another pair of expensive Ralph Lauren prescription sunglasses disappeared between Zurich and Vienna. A lovely Canon camera was stolen from my suitcase in a hotel in San Francisco.
Some stuff you get back. My passport, which I’ve lost at both Abu Dhabi and Muscat airports, was predictably returned to the authorities there on both occasions – impressively, in Abu Dhabi, a green-uniformed police chief had stored it in a zip-lock plastic bag under lock and key in his personal safe. The purse and the sunglasses in Kenya, yes. The camera and the pictures I had taken on it in San Francisco were never seen again. In Italy, again, no such luck, and I spent several days and nights wandering the Cinque Terre with only my prescription sunglasses to aid my vision, waiting for the slow-moving opticians in the nearest large town to replace the missing glasses. Hours – if not days – of my holiday were wasted, and much of it was spent in darkness.
My favourite watch disappeared after I absent-mindedly left it in the robe pocket of a luxury-hotel spa in Abu Dhabi. A favourite comfy skirt fell foul of a Dubai hotel stopover on the way to Khasab, where I also lost the best bikini I ever had. Two years ago, I left two beautiful new dresses in a wardrobe in a hotel in Orlando. When I touched down in Oregon that night and called the previous hotel, they claimed not to have seen them. It’s too bad that Toast doesn’t stock those dresses any more.
And just recently, in London, there was another conundrum. Because I hate shopping, I tend to buy multiple pairs of the same thing to save time.
Thanks to Etihad’s new reduced checked luggage allowance of 23 kilograms for the cheapest economy tickets, I only visited three or four shops on this trip, but from one store, I bought a total of six pairs of trousers the day before departure.
These were carried back in my hand luggage and not unpacked until I reached Abu Dhabi, where, alas, I discovered that there were only five. One pair either went missing at the hotel or the shop, but neither leads have so far proved forthcoming.
Believe it or not, over the years, I think I’ve become better at not losing things when I travel. Sometimes I’m amazed at how many bags I can haul across the planet – suitcases, laptops, cameras, paperwork – without losing a single item.
But travel also teaches you to let go of stuff that, at the end of the day, is just stuff. If you got hung up about every little thing lost along the way, you would start to lose the value of the trip. Though I still miss that darn bikini.