As winter started creeping up on the Southern hemisphere, I packed up my life in Sydney and scooted over to Singapore. As I disembarked from my Boeing 777, I was welcomed with a wave of humidity, coupled with a flurry of friendly faces. Feeling optimistic about the upcoming adventures, I sped through customs, and joined the crowed of eager passengers waiting around the conveyer belt for their luggage.
Unless I have a connecting flight, I usually stick around the tail end of luggage belts: that area is usually less crowded and people have taken off their suitcases earlier on, decreasing your probability of pulling down a look-a-like bag by mistake. On the flipside, I never gave much thought to the possibility of someone else standing right at the mouth of the conveyor belt, mistaking your bags for theirs, not checking the nametag and walking out with it.
That is exactly what happened!
After one lonely blue suitcase, which resembled mine but wasn’t, had made three rounds of the belt, I grew slightly worried. I found an airport staff person and told them that my hunch was that the owner of the lonely blue bag had taken mine home by mistake. I went to the airport office with her, filed an official complaint and went to my temporary home, without my bag.
Exhausted, I hit the bed. And that’s when I realized all the important stuff that was in my suitcase. Utter tiredness turned into a sleepless night because I was worried about never getting back all the precious things I had chucked in my checked luggage. I swore never to do it again if I got my bag back.
Taking a cue from my personal experience, here are some things you should never put in your checked baggage:
Hard drive: Yes, it’s a chunky piece of equipment, sometimes as heavy as a fifth of the weight you’re allowed in your hand luggage, but if something lives in the safety of your hard drive, it’s probably pretty important. So, don’t do what I did and make space for it in your hand luggage.
BA certificate: Since I am studying at three different universities, I carry my BA certificate to every new location, in case I have to present it to the university administration (and I have had to do so). But this beautiful, $40,000 piece of paper is too long to stay un-crumpled in my carry-on backpack, so I thought, “Why not? I’ll just lay it flat in the flap of my suitcase!” Bad idea!
Favourite postcards: In this digital age, there aren’t many paper memories that I treasure. The ones I do, I tend to take with me from place to place. Needless to say, I was emotionally devastated when I realized that I had lost all postcards and letters collected on my travels since I was 18.
All of your shoes: If you are going from a colder place to a warmer place, it might not be a bad idea to have a pair of flip-flops in your hand luggage. I wore my cozy boots on the plane and that’s what I had to stay in until my baggage arrived.
Yes, they found it. A bloke named Mr. Chen had indeed taken my bag home and when he opened it and saw my useless necklace collection, he brought it back to the airport in search for his. While I am extremely relieved to have my suitcase back, this experience has definitely taught me a lesson on being a better packer.