Vacation – it is a time when the worries of life are temporarily forgotten as reality is placed “on hold” for a brief period of mental and emotional rejuvenation. From May 27 to June 5 of 2018, I took the vacation of a lifetime in the form of a 10-day tour of Paris, Provence, and Barcelona with EF Tours, an educational tour company that caters to student travelers. While on my European tour, I fully expected to lose all of my emotional baggage from the stresses of life back home; vacation is meant to be stress-free, and this trip was no exception. However, what I had never counted on was losing my physical baggage as well. That’s right – the airlines lost my luggage for the entirety of the tour. If there is one thing that can be taken from this experience, it is this: if I – a 17 year old, 21st century female – can last 10 days in Europe without my physical belongings and still enjoy my trip to its fullest extent, anyone can do it.
Unexpectedly traveling without physical baggage is an obvious hassle, but it does not have to ruin the trip! When my group first discovered that our luggage was missing from the airport, we immediately filed a “Delayed Luggage” report with the airline in order to begin the search process. Then, with nothing but the clothes on our backs and our carry-on items (which luckily consisted of a few essential items), we went on our way to find the rest of our tour group. My first piece of advice for travelers in this situation: do not spend excessive time worrying! Once the report is filed, everything is in the hands of the airline. Obsessing over various scenarios regarding the loss of luggage is pointless in that it will do nothing to truly improve the situation; the only thing it will do is hinder one’s ability to fully enjoy the trip.
When traveling without luggage for an extended period of time, one will inevitably end up having to buy essential items such as clothes, underwear, and toiletries while visiting the travel destination. Luckily for me, my tour’s first destination was Paris, France – a haven for shoppers, or, in my case, luggage-deficient tourists. The streets of Paris are lined with clothing stores and pharmacies that typically exhibit sales for prospective buyers. ZARA became a savior for me during this trip – from this store, I was able to purchase several clothing items to last my entire trip without breaking the bank. While shopping for essential items in this scenario, remember to keep all receipts – most airlines are legally responsible for reimbursing a person for any essential purchases made during the period in which his or her luggage was lost.
The loss of physical baggage during traveling often results in an acquisition of emotional baggage; however, this does not (and should not) have to be the case. One thought that constantly ran through my mind during this experience was, “I’m in Europe.” This is a simple phrase with obvious meaning, yet it genuinely helped to hold together my sanity; I was in Europe, seeing things I had only ever read about and visiting places that most people will never experience in person. At that moment, my luggage was unimportant in the grand scheme of life; it was the experiences and the memories that truly mattered. Traveling – with or without luggage – should be about learning and growing as a person – not worrying about whether my outfit looks good or my makeup is flawless.
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