Losing your stuff while traveling blows, especially when it’s your own fault. I’m definitely not talking about theft. I’m talking about absent-mindedly leaving your stuff behind. Facepalm.
The stuff I end up leaving behind is usually a layer that I’m using while in transit – a cardigan or a zip-up hoodie. I’ll warm up and end up taking it off, shoving it down by my feet and forgetting about it as I exit the plane, train, or bus. Like when I recently left my new raincoat on the plane while leaving Belize.
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I’ll tell you the story real quick.
I flew in a tiny Cessna from Punta Gorda to Belize City, which takes about an hour and makes 4-5 stops. On the day I was headed out of the country the weather was pretty bad (and I had a fever!) and the airline I flew did not have the proper instruments to navigate through the clouds. The pilots used line-of-site only!
So, they had me switch to another airline one stop away from Punta Gorda, which was thoughtful — I like safe flying practices. But, the plane with the second airline – and all four of the other passengers — was already there waiting for me and it was a 15-minute flight.
Once we landed at the next airport to make the switch, a heavily-accented Creole attendant rushed me off the original plane, engines still rolling, and onto the next. I didn’t even realize my raincoat was missing until I arrived in Belize City. I hope someone is putting that jacket to good use now!
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Stop Losing Your Stuff While Traveling
Despite this story I just shared about losing something, I make sure to ALWAYS know where my belongings are by using the following tricks proven to work (while not feverish). I hope they help you, too!
1. Put things in the same spot every time.
You won’t misplace your wallet or keys if you put it in the same pocket of your purse every. single. time. Consistency is the key here. Keep your hotel key card in your wallet. Always keep your passport and tickets in the same notebook/folder/fancy passport holder. You get the idea. Put this into practice with all of your stuff when you travel and you’ll be sure to never leave things behind.
2. Use small bags or packing cubes.
This will help you stay organized while on the road. I keep all the small, easily misplaced items together, like charging cables, toiletries, jewelry, medication, snacks, etc. Corral similar items into one bag and always put that bag in the same pocket of your suitcase or backpack.
Confession: I don’t actually use packing cubes, but I’m sure they work wonders and totally understand why people rave about them. I would absolutely use them if I received them as a gift! I don’t think they are a necessary purchase, though. If you’re on a budget, use Ziplock bags or other small bags you have laying around, or get some used ones from a thrift store.
Update: I recently used packing cubes on my 3-month trip around New Zealand. Now, speaking from personal experience, I can say that they are truly an organized traveler’s dream!
3. Don’t unpack.
This one won’t sit well with everyone. I know quite a few people that unpack their suitcases as soon as they check into a hotel, using every hanger and drawer available. I prefer to leave stuff in or around my suitcase, neatly tucked away in its little bag and in its assigned suitcase pocket.
4. Look, point, and speak when you are leaving an area.
This one will work no matter where you are – hotel room, restaurant, waiting room, airplane, subway – wherever. After you collect your things and right before you run out the door, first look around the space you are leaving. Second, point to the places where you collected your belongings from. Then, say out loud “Nothing here” or “Got everything from here” or something similar.
Doing this employs your sight and hearing and pointing engages you physically. You’ll be sure to catch that pair of sunglasses you left under your napkin by mistake.
5. If you’re traveling with friends, quiz each other.
Before you go on a trip with friends agree to check in with each other about your belongings, especially the important/expensive stuff. If you don’t talk about it before you leave, though, your friends could perceive your questions about their stuff as a jab at their life skills, so make sure everyone is on board. It could even be kind of fun, like “I’ll show you my passport if you show me yours.”
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