How To Enjoy Your Vacation with Lost Luggage

Hey y’all, I am a first-hand experienced traveler when it comes to lost luggage. It happens! That is the first thing you have to remember when it happens to you for the first time (because if you travel a lot or even occasionally, then it WILL eventually happen to you). The worst experience I had with this was when I was headed to my honeymoon with my wonderful husband.

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We flew out of Nashville on Monday morning, had a layover in Houston, and landed at the Liberia, Costa Rica Airport where we came to the dawning realization that our luggage had been left behind at the Houston airport. With everyone expressing the “Pura Vida” mentality of not sweating the small stuff, we had a difficult time dealing with the broken English of the airport workers. After many tears and mixed Spanish and English discussions (Spanglish, if you will), we realized that our luggage would not arrive to this tiny airport until 3 days later. Cue mental breakdown on my part. There was nothing we could do at that point. So we got on the bus to our resort, got lost in thought for the 1.5 hour bumpy drive over rocks and mud, and arrived to our resort in the middle of nowhere, Costa Rica.

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We tried to explain the situation to the resort staff, but if you have never experienced that no-stress mentality, then it is hard to comprehend how chill to the extreme these people were. They said they would call the airport and ushered us off to our room. When we got into the room, everything hit us. We have no luggage. We are on our honeymoon at a beautiful resort on the beach and have limited clothes. What would we wear to dinner? There was literally forest around us; there were no stores. We had no toothbrushes (sorry honey, don’t think we can kiss). The thoughts kept pouring in. This was the turning point though – time to take action and make this work since we were sitting in a beautiful room with a bed strewn with flower petals.

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We went through our carry on luggage and gathered together the small amount of clothing we had. Oh boy. Since there was a dress code at all the restaurants at our all-inclusive resort, we had to get creative. The first few nights, we had to make do with what we had. I was wearing jeans, a black tank top I had worn under my clothes on the plane, and a necklace I had luckily thrown in my carry on at the last minute.

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Alec was wearing jeans and a t-shirt that he wore on the plane. We found out around this time that they would be attempting to fly our bag to another airport in CR and send it by taxi to the resort 8 hours away. We knew these clothes would be getting unsanitary soon though so we washed our clothes in the 3 inch shallow sink. At this point we had lost all hope of our luggage actually ever arriving.

Tuesday started out lovely when the staff wouldn’t let Alec come into the breakfast area wearing a tank top (mind you, this was one of his 2 tank options). Luckily, they had an overly used polo shirt that paired wonderfully with his blue basketball shorts! Who knows how many people had already worn this spare shirt that they had hanging at the hostess stand. He was really happy about it as you can tell below.

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After that, we broke down and bought cheap, overpriced clothing items at the convenience store of the resort. We also bought sunscreen after already having sunburns from walking down to the beach after literally 1 hour. We had to at least purchase these essentials other than the few goodies like toothbrushes, toothpaste, bath soap, etc. that the hotel had given us. They even sent us flowers and gift certificate for me to get services at their spa to let us know they felt bad for our situation!

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Such a nice goodie basket and beautiful flowers below from the most helpful and favorite hotel staff member, Fabian (yes, that was his name)!

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We decided to make the most of the beach bum life and live with what we had. Then, the resort staff, who we were pretty sure had forgotten about us other than the goodies and flowers (thank you FABIAN), brought sets of men and women’s waiter and waitress clothes for us to wear to dinner. Alec now had nice khakis and a flamingo waiter shirt (all he needed was a towel over his arm!) and they offered me a very large pencil skirt and wide-sized, white polo. I think he got the better end of the deal. Instead of wearing a huge polo, I used one of my nightgowns and tucked it into the pencil skirt. We were working our make-shift dinner attire and were actually having fun trying to figure out where our next outfit would come from! I can’t even count how many times we said, “this will be really funny later for sure,” and we were right!

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Notice I’m still sporting the original tank from the night before under the nightgown #resourceful

We learned a lot from losing our luggage and actually enjoyed solving the problems that arose as we went through the honeymoon. Since we started out our marriage working through a trial, then it must be a great sign for the future!

After being put on a plane to the San Jose, Costa Rica Airport and then placed in a taxi for 8 hours, our luggage arrived in one piece at our hotel room on Wednesday morning. We were surprised and shocked so see it. We could not have been more thrilled to see this soiled, large, blue duffel bag. From that point forward, it was all smooth sailing into honeymoon bliss.

As we gear up for our trip next week, we intend to be much more prepared with options packed in our carry-on luggage. It is always a good idea to make sure you have the following in your carry-on with you – especially if you are going international:

  • A change of clothes
  • An extra pair of walking shoes
  • Everything you would keep in your purse
  • Phone and charger
  • Camera and charger
  • Magazine/Book
  • Universal adapter plug
  • Essential toiletries
  • Snacks and water (At least an empty water bottle to fill up after security)
  • An extra jacket (depending on location)
  • Anything you would absolutely die if you lost!

For our Icelandic adventure, I think we will be making sure we have enough in our carry ons to get us by if need be. 🙂

 

 

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River Rafting on the Ocoee

We walked towards the Ocoee River as the mist dampened our skin and hair. We carried the rafts down to the edge of the frigid, angry river that moved gallons upon gallons of water down the river every second. The frothing and churning water deafened us to any other sound. Our guide had told us this would be the worst part, and I thought, “so glad it’s the first time I’ve white water rafted since I was 7!” The 4 of us and 2 guides braced ourselves and took the plunge with our raft into the Ocoee River. We were off. We sailed through the fast-moving, white rapids as muffled directions were being shouted from behind us. Forward 3! Forward 2! Backward 1! Lean! These were the commands we had been taught to follow less than 15 minutes prior to our adventure. It signaled which way and how many paddle strokes we should take. There is not a lot that can prepare you for any type of extreme sport. It takes a lot of common sense and adrenaline to make it to the other side of white water.

We made it through the first rapid with no casualties. Then we arrived at a class 4 rapid further down the river. As we arrived at this rapid called The Washing Machine, we were given a general route we’d follow through the water and headed in with our raft. Within 10 seconds, the commands stopped. We kept pushing through the rapid, and then I turned around and realized with a shout, “They’re gone!” We were on our own – 4 semi-novice white water rafters. At that moment, a boulder caught the raft and started to tip us over. We all reacted on instinct by leaning and scurrying to the other side of the boat. We started shouting out commands ourselves until we had pushed off the rock that had caused our unusual event of almost capsizing. We paddled our way fiercely out of the rapids until we found our guides who had been washed downstream along with their paddles. They had been literally whirled around like a washing machine – the name of the rapid was no joke. Talk about an experience. It lit me up with energy and prepared us all to make it down the rest of the river without any other men falling overboard.

Even though we had a high adrenaline trip at the beginning, there were moments where we floated down the calmer portions of the river to see a rainstorm coming up the river towards us. We were only in the rain for about 30 seconds while it beat down on our tense muscles, but after we passed under the rain cloud and turned around, we could see the departing dark, rain cloud moving down the river and breaking through the sunshine as it traveled. The scenery down the Ocoee River is filled with tall, thick tree-covered hills growing up out of the choppy, blue water canyon below. Sadly, we were not able to take an pictures rafting down the river for fear of losing our phones and cameras to the unforgiving waters!

I would definitely recommend rafting down the Ocoee for anyone who is looking for an exciting place to white water raft. If you want to do it on a budget like us, we used a Groupon! Have fun and hold on tight!

Chatt