Smarter Travel Reader Stories, Part 2

Here are some more contributions from the Smarter Travel 'tell us the worst thing that you ever lost when traveling' competition. 

 - I was with my daughter and family in China this past summer.  They were adopting two Chinese children.  We landed in Shanghai first to pick up our little boy.  We went shopping and I found a beautiful hand fan for myself to remember the trip.  It had panda bears (which I love) and pink flowers made of bamboo.  Well, some where a long the way I lost my fan.  I am so upset because I can't find another one on line and I will not get to go back to China to purchase another one.  I know this is not much but it meant a lot to me. Thank you for reading my sad story.



 - As a 5 year old, I was the ultimate girly girl who treasured my Beauty and the Beast purse. I would take my purse everywhere with me because it made me feel like a grown up! I kept as much stuff as I could fit in it, from my cherry flavored lip balm to stickers to my life savings of a whopping $11. One day, my dad took me to a huge toy store while on vacation and I was fascinated by the bright lights, colorful displays and walls of shiny new toys. Towards the back of the store, there was a kid’s arts and crafts table where you could draw and try out some of the toys. I happily sat down and started drawing at the table, while my dad chased after my younger brother who liked to take off whenever he got the chance to. I took off my purse and sat it right next to me so that I could draw without the purse strap getting in my way. Before I knew it, my dad came back and told me it was time to go. I proudly showed him my creation and then reached over to get my purse, but it was gone!


 I was so absorbed with creating my masterpiece that I didn’t realize someone stole my beloved purse. I felt like I lost everything and immediately started crying. My dad tried his best to console me, but it was no use – I was too upset. We wandered around the store talking to different sales employees, trying to find my purse, but we never found it. I remember that day like it was yesterday. The horrible feeling of having your personal belongings taken from you without you knowing is something I would never want to experience again. I was taught a hard lesson and to this day, I am always protective of my purse. I make sure to hold it in a certain way so that it is securely against my body when I walk and I never leave it unattended when I sit down at a restaurant or in a public area. 


- This may not be the worst ever in terms of how everything worked out in the end.  It is a true story.  My boyfriend Darren was on a small Thai island on December 26, 2004.  He was backpacking and had just off-loaded on the beach with his backpack case.  Long story short, the tsunami came and swept Darren out to sea.  Thankfully, he was able to cling, fight, swim (you name it) and managed to get back onto land.  He lost everything, including his shoes.  All his travel documents including US Passport were swept away.  Amazingly, some 8 months later, his local congressional office contacted him that they have found his backpack case (san content) and arranged to send it back to Darren, but I digress…….  Darren was able to call me from Southeast Asia (I was back home in San Francisco) and I was able to help arrange emergency provisions for him, as wells contact the US State Department on his behalf.  Darren was more battered and bruised then anything, but IS completely recovered.  Darren did lose everything in the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and well, I can make the case that had Darren been wearing the Clever Travel Companion boxer briefs (too hot in Thailand for long johns J), then all his important stuff, including passport would have been on him, and not easily lost


 When considering these stories and in choosing your winners, I hope you will find Darren’s experience compelling.  Better yet, if you do chose Darren’s story as a winner, please consider awarding an extra pair to his girlfriend, who submitted it.  J  



- Prior to a business stay at an upscale hotel in downtown Philadelphia, I always traveled with my passport as a backup means of identification in our nation’s increasingly security conscious travel environment.  Shortly after returning from this trip to the City of Brotherly Love, I was on the phone making an international airline reservation when the agent asked for my passport number.  I reached for my briefcase to retrieve it from the compartment where it was always kept only to find – to my utter amazement – that it was missing.  I put the reservation on hold and began a mental review that ended up back in that Philadelphia hotel, where the passport was definitely in my briefcase.  I’m not one to make wild accusations that I can’t support, but I’m absolutely certain that the passport was in my briefcase at the hotel and was missing just days later.  A call to the hotel management was met with sympathetic concern, but nothing more.  Realizing that it was unlikely that my passport would be found and returned, I went through the time consuming process of reporting it lost or stolen.  I was under added pressure because my upcoming international trip was just weeks away, necessitating payment of an additional fee for expedited service.  In the end I learned a valuable lesson that has stayed with me to this very day: I only travel with my passport when I actually need it, and I make it a point to secure it in the hotel room safe, or, at minimum, in a locked compartment of my briefcase or backpack when no safe is available.  And while it might be overkill, I have avoided staying at any of the hotels in the chain to which that particular Philadelphia property belongs.     


- On Why I Need Idiot Strings on Important Belongings

 Usually I don't travel with anything that is irreplaceable – grandma's ring stays at home, I have an extra eyeglass prescription on hand, and fancy handbags don't fit with my style of travel. After a week in Papua New Guinea, someone took from my table at a restaurant a friend's small digital camera I had borrowed. The camera itself wasn't a huge loss to me. I had a larger SLR with me, but it hurt to lose the photographs I had taken with the small camera. Its diminutive size allowed me to be casual and inconspicuous. Just before losing the camera, I had been invited to play a game with some local girls where we were staying in Kimbe. I do remember their smiling faces, but gone were the photos that would have filled in the details. Gone, too, were the shots of the airstrip tableau with the tiny plane that carried people, newspapers, and baby chicks to the further-flung reaches of the islands. Disappeared were the shots where the guide had us paint our faces in traditional patterns with red clay at hot springs. I am sure that the traditional patterns he showed us could be translated to “gullible tourist” but it was also one of the rare times my husband let me commit to “film” him looking incredibly foolish. Lost was the evidence of that escapade and with it my ability to bribe him and mortify him in front of our children.

I did manage to get some good photos with my other camera, but they lacked the spontaneity of the ones from my point-and-shoot. Regret may be a useless emotion, but I still felt it intensely as I mourned the loss of the photos from the small camera. I also had to endure my husband's chiding about losing something that wasn't even mine. I did feel bad, but it meant I would be getting my friend a new one, one a few model years newer and so a huge upgrade. Hell, I had done her a favor by losing her camera! But I couldn't get back my images, and my memory is in need of the occasional jog, and now I haven't got the photos from that camera to do it for me. That kind of loss, keys to memories or mementos, is the worst kind.

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