Last Stops for Lost Luggage
For all my gripes about flight delays and airline-service slips this summer, I have to admit that when I book a ticket to Rome, I generally end up in Rome. My suitcase’s final destination, on the other hand, is often quite literally up in the air. And since tighter carry-on restrictions have turned my fellow toiletry fiends and me into reluctant bag checkers, it seems inevitable that we’ll face down empty luggage carousels increasingly often.
The only thing worse than the moment you realize your luggage is lost is the process of retrieving it, especially if you’re traveling abroad. And sometimes, your bag permanently checks out, never to be seen—or stowed—again.
The good news: even if you never see your lost suitcase again, you can do your karmic duty and snatch up items that other travelers have loved and lost at the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama. Most luggage and cargo that go missing in the U.S. end up for sale here, and the block-long facility is a veritable vacation destination for suitcase mourners and bargain hunters alike. The center’s website offers helpful trip-planning tools, so you can book a plane ticket and start researching right away (just don’t check your bag, unless you want to tempt fate—and irony).
For a more refined grab-bag experience, the U.K. stages dignified unclaimed-item auctions for its lost luggage, with top bidders clinching everything from laptops to wet suits. So should you lose your bag at Heathrow, or simply need a rubber outfit to fend off that London rain, you know where to turn. And if you see any containers that look like they can condense a lot of liquids into a quart-size bag, please pick up a few for me.
My name: Michelle Doucette
How I earn my keep: I'm an editor at IgoUgo.com.
Favorite way to get around: Some of my favorite trips involved renting cars in foreign countries and driving through the countryside, stopping on whims. You get a feel for the culture away from the big cities and meet interesting people on the road, including, I must admit, an embarrassingly high number of local policemen. I suppose it would be prudent to learn all of the traffic laws ahead of time.
Best meal I've had while traveling: Since a succession of gelato cones probably doesn't count as a meal, my favorite must have been a fresh crabmeat lunch prepared by a St. John sailboat captain while we took a break from snorkeling in the Caribbean. Sharing baklava as the sun came up over Paros, Greece, (while, once again, not technically a meal) was also memorable.
Travel ambitions: Since climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, I've figured out that I'd like to keep trekking while traveling. I've got my eyes on epic hikes in Nepal, Bhutan, and Peru.