Losing your luggage at the airport is a lot like a break-up you didn’t expect coming.  You think that everything’s fine and you’re even excited for the adventures up ahead and then you’re left there standing; confused and betrayed.

That little heart attack that you go through after realizing the loss of your luggage is a tragedy the constant nomad knows all too well. And no matter how careful we are (with our bags and our relationships) we still somehow end up with the shorter stick and are left to try and cope.

Stage 1: Denial


Our nature as social beings is that we like to look at the best things about other people—airlines included.  There’s always that morsel of hope that maybe our bags just got on another belt or they have it waiting for us at the lost luggage section. And then news comes that it’s on a flight to Jamaica and you’re in Hong Kong with your heart broken over the contents of your bag. We can say the airline is mistaken or we can wait by the carousel. We’re entitled to this small period of denial and that’s okay.

Stage 2: Anger


As the denial wears off reality emerges and we aren’t often prepared. Being placed in stressful situations with little or no resolution means feelings get expressed through anger. Psychologists say that we have to go through this stage of grief to fully move forward from a loss. Rationally we know the person on that desk is not to be blamed. Emotionally, however, we resent the person for causing us so much pain by telling us “you’ll get your luggage back in 2 weeks”.

Stage 3: Bargaining


And so we stand there refusing to let the person behind us have their turn until we get some kind of compromise. We can threaten to sue or beg for a faster way to retrieve our luggage but there’s a little voice inside us that’s saying this is futile and all we can do is exhaust that poor person behind the desk with hopes of some good news; that maybe if we’re annoying or upset enough they’ll fly it back to us the next day. Sadly, it doesn’t always happen that way.

Stage 4Depression


Your mundane routines remind you of everything. When you take a shower you remember because your bath gel smelled like lavender and the one you’re using now is making your skin dry. Then as you go through your wardrobe you remember your favorite shirt was there and that you’ve always worn it to a new place just for the novelty. As you walk through the streets, you remember your luggage once more because you saw a Hong Kong sticker that you want to pile on to the other stickers you’ve collected during your travels. This makes you sad and there’s not much to do but go through the motions.

Stage 5: Acceptance


3 days in and you’ve visited a few places and met cool people and you start to forget you still have 12 more days (or more) to go before you’re reunited with your beloved luggage. So you think “Okay. I could mope and feel sorry about myself or I could start having some fun and make new plans.” When you choose the latter you know you’re well on your way to self-healing.

Coping with loss is ultimately a deeply personal and singular experience. It’s different for everyone but the constant thing we get out of it are valuable life lessons. Loss is an inevitable part of life. If we must go through it, at least take the journey with good friends.

…and a good Travel Insurance policy.

We’ll cope with you. Contact us here.

P.S. For a checklist of what a good travel insurance should cover, read this.