Back in 2013 I embarked on not only my first solo long haul flight, but my first EVER long haul flight. Up untill that point I had only ever been as far as the Canary Islands. I was going to Canada to meet my friend who was studying over there. We first started talking on Tumblr in 2010 and quickly became close. Cut to three years later and I am flying halfway around the world to meet her. Of course, the start of my journey did not go without hiccup. With explaining to customs officers that Yes, we met online. No, not a dating site. Tumblr, we both just really like Harry Potter.  I can look back and laugh now but missing luggage on my first solo trip led to a stressful few days.

missing luggage

When my parents dropped me off at the airport I wanted to get through as fast as possible. Just as I was walking through the gate I turned around to see my mum in tears. I was only going to be gone for 3 weeks but that was longest I had ever been away from home at this point. I remember rushing through secruity and as I was scrambling to get everything back into my hand luggage.Shaking so much that I  I was dropping everything. Trying my best to appear calm and collected because god forbid someone see I am a novice traveller? How embarassing!

Goodbye Scotland, Hello Canada

The trouble started in Toronto. I was stading at the baggage claim and one by one everyone collected their bags and left. I had a connecting flight to catch and didn’t know how much longer I could wait. When I noticed the steward had started taking the remaining bags off the belt I went over to check if mine was there. Nope. The people are the help desk were no help at all. They basically told me to sort it out in Montreal . I filled out a form with my details and had to run to my connecting flight. By this point I am trying not to have a nervous breakdown in the middle of the airport, and I also have a splitting migraine.

Missing Luggage
Journal entry from travel day – it’s good to be able to look back and laugh!

The woman at the Montreal airport could not have been nicer. Her name was Amelie and she was the best. I had prepared myself for the same difficult airport staff from Toronto but she was so helpful and reassuring that they were going to find my missing luggage She also spoke French which I was so impressed by that I forgot I was angry. Turns out when you have a 50 minute layover in Amsterdam and your flight is delayed, chances are your luggage won’t make the trip. They were going to fly out my luggage as soon as they could (which took 3 days). But in the meantime I was given an allowance of $100 to buy any essentials for the next 3 days. Shout out to WestJet for still being the best airline I have ever dealt with!

Lost and Poor in Montreal

Montreal

After finally making my way to the Bus Station, getting lost and accidentally spending £20 on roaming charges I settled in and waited for Hannah to arrive. From there we made our way to our Hotel – Auberge & Hotel Montreal Espace Confort – which was super quaint and lovely. After three days of exploring Montreal and trying not to think about my missing luggage I got a call from reception telling me my suitcase was downstairs.

Missing Luggage
My cute family being supportive ha!

It was definitely nice to feel like a person again with my own clothes, toiletries and make up! To be honest I can’t really remember what we did in Montreal for those 3 days. I know we had an awful lot of Tim Hortons, and went to some massive mall that was underground? (did I dream this?) But it was only 3 days of a 3 week trip!

Honestly, I’m happy that my first solo travel experince went this way. I lost my luggage, got lost myself and survived 3 days on limited funds in a new country. I geuinely believe it gave me a much more chilled out approach to travelling. Yes, things will go wrong. But it’s not the end of the world. Just take a breathe, deal with it, and enjoy your trip.

Read Next: Women Who Wander: Meg’s Solo Expat Life in Malaysia a new blogger series that shares fellow solo female travellers stories. If you would like to submit a story for the series please e-mail me at youngandundecidedblog@gmail.com

Missing Luggage

Linking up on #WanderfulWednesday this week with Snow in Tromso and #FarawayFiles with Untold Morsels

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61 thoughts on “Missing Luggage on my Frist Solo Trip”

  1. Very similar thing happened to me on my first time alone when I was 18 going to Peru! A lot of airport and flight changes combined with a nice little hurricane meant my bag had somehow ended up in Colorado despite none of my flights leaving or arriving from there! Eventually got it about 5 days later after it took another detour to Chile. LAN and Iberia were nowhere near as helpful and I didn’t get any sort of allowance 🙁 But luckily my first-time traveller over-thinking packed almost everything I needed in my hand luggage so I was good to go until it arrived. Like you though I’m kind of grateful it happened. Definitely toughened me up for the next few years! Also, how bloody great that your first trip was to meet a Tumblr friend!

    1. It is not a great thing to have to deal with but Yes I am so thankful for Westjet for being so kind to me! I unforunately was the kind of traveller that basically only carried books and documents in my hand luggage. Rookie mistake! haa

  2. Wow! That seriously sounds like such a pain but at least you can look back at it with new eyes. We have been fortunate to not lose our luggage…yet. But we’ve had some horrible food poisoning when traveling to other countries and I left my wallet at a train station traveling solo once. Fortunately someone turned it in!

  3. I’ve been so lucky so far that I’ve never had a bag lost or damaged when I’ve travelled. But you’re right, these experiences are what you make them and it’s refreshing to see that you turned what for some people is a negative into a positive! Travelling is so much easier if you have a laid-back be-it-what-it-will-be approach. Happy travels 🙂

  4. I always worry about my luggage not making it to my destination with me. It sounds like you handled it well and perspective really is everything. A great man once said “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light” 🙂

  5. That sounds like such a pain, I guess you just have to try and not panic if your luggage doesn’t turn up. At least it did in the end though and you also got that $100 to get a few bits. Also I hope you enjoyed Montreal. I’ve been there and loved it.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  6. Such a great attitude to traveling! Sorry it happened to you, but now you can handle pretty much anything haha. And yup…those Canadians love their Tim Hortons!!

  7. It happened to me once because my first flight was delayed and I only had 30 minutes to catch my second one but luckily I was visiting my parents so I didn’t really need anything. The staff was really friendly in my case too though – I guess they completely understand how stressful it is to arrive without your baggage on your vacation!

  8. Lost luggage is the worst! As are migraines – not a great way to start a trip, but that’s always where the real adventure begins – when things go wrong. I’m glad it all worked out for you in the end.

  9. What doesn’t break you makes you stronger! I think travelling throws up these challenges and when we inevitably overcome them we think – yeah! I can do this. I broke a tooth on a solo trip to Bali and had to get emergency dental treatment. Well I was freaking out and luckily could call my brother who speaks fluent Indonesian to speak to the dentist about anaesthetic as the tooth had to be removed. Turned out to be pain free and the cheapest dentist visit ever – $15!! Thanks for joining us on #FarawayFiles

    1. Oh how luckly that your brother was fluent in Indonesian! My friend recently moved to China and about a week in needed to get her wisdom teeth removed. Luckly her neighbour that she had made friends with came along to translate!

  10. Lost luggage and theft of items from luggage are the two main reasons why I only EVER do carry on. Regardless of country, length of trip or whether my three kids are accompanying me, we all only ever do carry on. I feel in control and oh, well, yes I am impatient at arrivals and just want to get out and get started. I don’t know how I would go losing my luggage. Good on you for managing this hard situation on your first long trip 🙂 Annette #FarawayFiles

  11. Missing luggage is the worst!! Good job dealing with it on your first solo trip. A few years ago I packed fragile Christmas presents in my carry on and all my necessities in checked luggage and of course it went missing… which led to a few shopping trips and a lot of frustration.

  12. Oh god, what a nightmare! But you’re right, when things like this happen it makes you put things into perspective a bit and realise you can cope with curveballs! I’ve definitely had my fair share of these. Thanks for sharing such an honest and realist story!

  13. Oh Chiera, on your first big trip too! I’ve had that awful sinking feeling waiting for my luggage to come around the carousel too – I hated being without my stuff and don’t think I handled it nearly as well as you seem to. But you’ve got the best attitude and you’re so right about realising that you can deal with it and getting on and having the best time anyway. Great to read this on #FarawayFiles

  14. I don’t usually check in my luggage, the first time I did it was in a Japan trip but I didn’t pay for it (the sponsors did) so I had no problem. When I returned to my country from Taiwan though I decided to check in my backpack because it was so heavy I swear my back was going to break.

    Anyway, I can only imagine the feeling of losing a luggage. I’m pretty sure it’s a horrible thing to happen.. Good thing that it’s returned to you. You had a pretty interesting story on your first long-haul travel.

  15. Man, lost luggage is always the worst! Luckily it’s only ever happened to me on the way home, meaning that I had plenty of clothes and toiletries waiting for me, but it’s still SUPER annoying. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like losing your luggage on your first solo trip! #farawayfiles

  16. Great attitude in solving the problem. It’s really tough to lose your luggage in the airport especially for a girl because you have more stuff than us. I’ve experienced it once, luckily it arrived on the next flight but I had to wait for 6 hours to get it.

  17. The main reason why as much as possible I only bring a backpack with me everytime I travel. I don’t even check in my backpack.
    I’m glad you’re luggage just arrived without a dent.

  18. Maybe the first, but definitely not the last travel challenge you will face. And better to learn that things happen early than be blindsided after being lulled into idea that nothing ever goes wrong. You handled it well and have a great story to tell! Your journal entry cracks me up. I may or may not have had similar exasperations put to pen for looks back! Oh well – you survived and it made the rest of the trip that much better. PS (Toronto is actually a very cool city if you someday make it back!) Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

    1. Exactly my thoughts now looking back. I know I can deal with problems – which was a good lesson to learn on my first solo trip! Haa I actaully went back to Toronto at the end of this trip for a night to see Les Mis, but I would love to go explore for longer.

  19. Starting your journey like this is nerve-wrecking at first, but after that it’s always something you can laugh about, a funny anecdote to tell your friends when your back… and also it makes one a bit more tolerant of stress and unknown situations. I when through a lot of those situations and in the end I think it’s something that makes you put things into perspective and enjoy the moments as they are. I hope the rest of your trip was fantastic though 😉

  20. Nothing worse than delayed luggage except for a lost one you never get back. But, you made the best of it all and for that you will still have great memories. You are definitely a better traveler now because of it I’m sure!

  21. Thank you for sharing your personal experience about dealing with tough situation. Like several people commented before, I was so blessed to never lose my baggage during any of my travels yet but I absolutely understand that it can happen anytime.

  22. That sounds stressful, especially on your first solo trip! Fortunately, I’ve never had my luggage lost or delayed, but that’s why I’m always afraid of checking in a suitcase! If my trip is short enough, I always try to bring just my hand luggage!

  23. I’m sorry that you had a troubling experience on your first big trip, but I guess it’s all part of the process! Glad that you were able to look at the situation positively and that it all eventually worked out! Seems like you still enjoyed yourself and that’s all that matters!! 😀

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