Standing at Bangkok’s baggage claim, I wonder how many hours, and in how many cities, I have spent praying for suitcases to appear.
For me, lost luggage is rare, but the fear remains. In the 1980’s, a video game was made about this common traveler dilemma.
To be separated from your clothing in a foreign country is a cold and lonely welcome. And in destinations like China, where the women are doll-sized, I’m forced to buy extra-large everything.
Once, after being rerouted through Hong Kong instead of Seoul, the airline lost track of one of our bags. My husband imagined shopping for underwear and shirts—or worse—the more expensive shoes, socks, and pants. Even though our bags eventually showed up, my husband changed his packing routine. He stows complete outfits in every bag.
Another time, a lone plastic tub held what looked like a turquoise body bag. It rounded the conveyor belt six times before I dared to peek inside. Sure enough, it was my mutilated luggage. Some mechanical monster shredded the suitcase—a Briggs and Riley meant to last a lifetime. Luckily, the gaping hole was on top. I wheeled my exposed bag to the taxi stand, stuffing wayward bras and underwear.
Carry-on luggage does not eliminate problems. In Texas, my husband raced from the rental car garage to the airport. That day, his suitcase wheels shattered, spitting black plastic shards in all directions. The wheels were nonexistent by the time he reached his seat. The bag became a true carry-on.
Now, I chat with my former seatmate and scan the luggage carousel for my basic black but distinctively shaped bag that resembles a doghouse. My friend locates one of her two bags. I look for my bright orange Florida Writer’s Association luggage tag. She snags her second bag and waves goodbye.
I get closer to the luggage chute and regret not packing less and ferrying my bag onboard. Will shops in Thailand have my size? Do they carry more than flip-flops? Finally, like a loyal companion, my doghouse trots around the corner.
With one crisis averted, I grab my bag and face the next traveling unknown—a taxi with the rare set of working seatbelts.
What are your travel fears?