“They’re just things,” right? No.

We arrived back in South Africa on Friday after a whirlwind belated honeymoon, 2 weddings, and awesome trip to America. Our luggage however, did not.

We knew they couldn’t be lost. The chances of both our bags not arriving in Johannesburg was a little fishy. After a delay at JFK and a mad rush to our connecting flight in Germany (escorted by the airline’s flight attendant), we had a feeling we knew where our luggage might be. But that feeling that all your things are abandoned somewhere in a foreign country is terrifying. Not to mention the fact that we had just gone on an expensive trip and bought ourselves some expensive things. Also you know, clothes and toiletries and things from home (because you had to go overseas with something).

“Pack essentials in your hand luggage in case your suitcase goes missing!” they tell you. And I was so pedantic on this. To the point that Greg kept telling me I’m being neurotic. Not only did we pack essentials (pyjamas, change of clothes, underwear etc), but I even went so far as making sure we each packed half of our clothing in each suitcase, so even if one of our bags did go missing, we’d each still have clothing to wear.

This was on the way there. On the way back we were more worried about being overweight. Ironic, considering by the time we left Johannesburg after my friend’s wedding to come home to Cape Town, we didn’t even have luggage. Thank God we took Greg’s suit bag with his suit (surprise?) and my dress for my friend’s wedding out of the suitcase or we’d have to have run around finding that too.

They’re just things. It’s all about the memories. Right? If anyone had to tell me this I might have slapped them. Or rather responded with an “I know, but…!” and not really be able to describe it, knowing full well that at the end (well, the very, very) end of the day they might just be things. But no, don’t tell me that minutes after. (Don’t worry, no-one did, I’m just being defensive here.)

Yes, we have the memories in our mind and heart (awwww). We had taken photos and videos – which by the way, never feel like enough. But sometimes, you just want those physical memories and mementos too. At a handful of points, I literally just wanted to curl into a ball and cry. Some of my favourite headscarves were in that suitcase. Not to mention all my beautiful accessories, which I’ve literally invested so much in. And they all come from Israel. The new things I’d bought. Our Mickey Mouse key rings and “Just Married” badges from Disneyland. The new boardgame we bought. My awesome nail transfers. My maps of Disneyland and Universal Studios. My Minnie Mouse ears. My hungry caterpillar pencil case (that I’d already planned to use as my new make-up bag). So they might just be “things”, but they were my things. Most of them hadn’t even entered my little life yet, and some played such a big part.

Did I mention that I also stupidly left my unused wallet in one of these suitcases, with my bank card and sim card inside? No? Well, that happened. You see, it was an emotional 6 days.

We’re lucky that they found our luggage and couriered it straight to our door. (I won’t let you think about our biggest fear, was that they’d delivered the wrong bags. Don’t worry, they didn’t). I’m not going to tell you the entire sob story, or name and shame the airline or airport. It wasn’t one person, just a clear lack of communication which was terribly frustrating. But it’s been a learning experience in what is important (the answer is that your things are still important, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise even though at the end of the day, in the very back of your mind you know they’re just things and eventually you’d realise that. But still, they’re your things.), and so I leave you with these pearls of wisdom.

  1. Always take out travel insurance. Always.
  2. Pack smart, all the time.
  3. Pester airlines and airports until they make your case important.
  4. If you have an important meeting/event/wedding (i.e part of the purpose of your trip), don’t pack those in your suitcase.
  5. Be lucky enough to have friends as good as ours (I had to borrow clothes for Shabbat, as well as a scarf for my friend’s wedding).

I really hope that none of you ever have to go through the process of lost luggage, being that close was already too close for comfort!

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