Lost Hand Luggage & How Best to Avoid It

Social media pages and news sites carry amusing stories regularly about lost hand luggage – and how people leave laptops, sunglasses, cameras and even artificial limbs in hotel rooms, hire cars, train carriages, airplanes, and cruise ships. I decided to dedicate this post to experience I have gathered in nearly fifty years of international travel. Technology may have changed, but absentmindedness has been with us for almost half a century.

Avoiding Lost Hand Luggage Tips

Avoiding Lost Hand Luggage: Lost Camera at Leyton Station, 1970
Lost Camera at Leyton Station, 1970: Photo by Garry Knight / CC2.0

The biggest single cause of lost hand luggage is unfamiliar surroundings. If I misplace my car keys at home, I know the best places to look. Transpose the problem to a hire car with a battery of bins, or a cruise ship with a clutter of storage spaces and I am instantly out on a limb and panicking. Travel has also become frenetic as we chase connections. No wonder we get flustered and overlook the obvious.

Avoiding Lost Hand Luggage: Underground Lost Luggage
Underground Lost Luggage: Photo by Sarah / CC2.0

Lost Luggage in Hotel Rooms and Hire Cars

Hire cars and hotel rooms are relatively private spaces. The best advice I can give is stay away from hiding places, and leave non-valuables where you can see them. I only ever lock things away in car boots, glove boxes, hotel safes and wardrobes. This means I have fewer places to check, and never have to peer  for lost hand luggage under beds and car seats.

The checkout procedures for hotel rooms and hire cars are not as rushed as disembarking planes and passenger trains. I wake up in my accommodation early enough to double check my wardrobe, safe and surfaces like desks and vanities. I park my hire car in a public space and check for lost luggage carefully before I return it. Then I ask the receiving clerk to double-check it for me.

Trains and Airplanes

Airplanes and trains are another matter. We scramble to find our seat in a pushing crowd of other travellers, and quickly put things somewhere to make way for someone else. As the emergency drill begins or the train glides out the station we start having second thoughts. Did we leave our passport in the waiting room or is it in the storage rack?

A good tip on avoiding lost hand luggage is to have a policy and stick to it. My overnight bag goes into overhead storage, while what I need for the journey is in a small, robust canvas bag. I never put anything in storage spaces in seats. That is because if I have to go back for something everything looks identical like a retro dream.

Avoiding Lost Hand Luggage: Vintage Underground Tube
Vintage Underground Tube: Photo by Sarah / CC2.0

Cruise Ships – The Lost Luggage Solution

I love my cruise ships because there is no better way to ‘take off’ than slipping moorings, and destinations are always better when approached from sea at sunrise before the fog lifts. My little secret to avoiding lost hand luggage is to give a generous cabin tip – half after I settle in, and half on the evening of my departure.

The morning I disembark, I clear my room, put my cases outside the door and leave the other half of the tip beneath my pillow. Then I grab my laptop and my camera, give the cabin steward a nod and go off to breakfast. I always get a friendly ‘thank you sir’. Once I received my forgotten wallet and passport back. I believe you receive what you pay for when cruising. No lost hand luggage here!

Avoiding Lost Hand Luggage: Approaching Walvis Bay One Foggy Morning
Approaching Walvis Bay One Foggy Morning by Author

About Richard Farrell

Richard FarrellI tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time.My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast (30.7167° S, 30.4667° E). I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned.

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