The few of us remaining in the baggage claim area watch the carousel with ever-diminishing hope as the last three bags continue to circle. There! – No, that black bag is too big. Wait, that one! – Wrong, that’s a gray hard-sided suitcase. And the last one – someone’s enormous duffel bag, the kind with wheels. Thanks Delta and Air France – a four-hour layover at Charles de Gaulle wasn’t long enough to get my small black bag from one terminal to the other?
Losing your bag at the beginning of a trip is no vacation. Losing your bag in a foreign city, which is a one-and-a-half-hour drive from your final destination – even more annoying. And so, why was it that my companions at the villa set in a small Tuscan hill town kept saying to me, “You’re taking this so well.”
One reason is obvious – the villa in a Tuscan hill town. Also, third week of September – warm, but not hot. A pool in the south-facing garden. And the most congenial group of people to spend the week with as you can imagine. Still, how much can that compensate for being forced to wear the same pair of black trousers for twelve days in a row?
“We are still searching for your baggage.” That was the recording from the Florence airport baggage office each time I called. At least it was said with an Italian accent – a minor compensation. So, how was it that I endured a week with only my 17-by-13-by-6-inch carry-on?
Here’s what I packed: two pairs of underwear (microfiber, dries instantly); two pairs of socks (do not dry instantly, but then Victoria bought me a pair of flip-flops at the coop); black ballet flats (cheap, from Target – I could roll up my trousers once and look quite … well, a bit more Italian than my clunky airport shoes); three-quarter-sleeve knit top; short-sleeved blouse (no, wait – two! I surprised even myself); pjs; thin scarf/shawl (I call it my Florence scarf); my computer and Moleskine (this was, after all, partly a writing retreat). Oh, and let’s not forget my bag of 3-ounce items.
When I called Air France, I was apologized to ten times in the span of a four-minute conversation. I was told that after 72 hours, I could buy replacement items, but they asked me to please be reasonable. I did not travel to Italy to shop, and even if I wanted to, our little town has no shops. The chemist is open maybe this morning, maybe that afternoon, maybe not that day – and this is why we love it there. Instead, I got by with what I had, and I did well.
Except for the swimsuit – my new LL Bean swimsuit in my checked bag. Victoria to the rescue once again! She had an extra, and so I was able to take advantage of the pool after all.
So, fellow travelers, my advice is to pack in your carry-on what you might need for a day or a week. Settle (with a good attitude) for wearing the same clothes more than once. And on the way home – not a lesson I needed to learn, as I had no bag to check on the way home – do not pack the charger for your iPad in your checked bag, because you never know when your flight will be canceled because of a mechanical problem and you will be put up at a hotel near the Amsterdam airport. Thirty hours later when your flight finally takes off, what will you read on the way home?