Thursday, June 17, 2010

How to Track Down Stolen Luggage - Dominican Style

Unfortunately on our recent trip to the Dominican Republic, my darling Mike's bag was "lost" as the airlines like to say. Here is my comical rendition of "How to Track Down Stolen Luggage".

First: Conveniently sit next to the person who will ultimately mistake your bag for his. This is a key element if you need to use face recognition.

Second: Get off the plane quickly and get to the luggage pick up area before the carousel starts moving.

Third: If you see someone walking away from the luggage carousel with a bag that looks oddly similar to yours, he is probably leaving with you bag. This would be a good time to run up to that person before they go through customs to avoid the following steps. If you don't run up to him (d'oh!) then make sure to get a good look at his face to realize he was the person sitting next to you on the flight.

Fourth (optional): Hope that customs does a search on them and that someone realizes the bag is not his!

Fifth: In the event that the fourth step doesn't occur, you will have to wait until all the luggage comes around the carousel and find the bag left behind that looks most like your bag. Note the name and address on the luggage tag.

Sixth: File a claim with the airline lost baggage people and make sure you mean business! Tell them you know the name and seat number of the person who took your bag because you are so observant. Also see if they can look through all the customs sheets for his name so they can contact the stealer instead of waiting for the stealer to contact the airport. Also, try your best to take the stealer's bag with you. You can use it as leverage in the future.

Seventh: Inform the people at your hotel about your lost luggage and have them call the airport and customs and if necessary the embassy and work their little behinds off to get your bag back.

Eighth: Meanwhile, go on Facebook and type in the name you noted from the luggage tag in the fifth step. Try to use face recognition and cross reference with their location (should be close to your departure airport). When you find the stealer, send them a message indicating the problem. Now they know you know they stole your luggage! Muahahahaha.

Ninth: When the airline finds your luggage only an hour after you have sent the Facebook message (and 6 hours after you landed), feel confident that your Facebook stalking skills were the reason of luggage return and not the good graces of the schmuck who didn't realize he had the wrong bag for 5 hours?! Yeah, I don't think so.

Tenth: After profusely thanking the people at your hotel for working so hard to find your luggage, take off those stinky clothes you've been wearing all day and change into your nice clean ones that were hanging out in someone else's hotel room for the entire day.

****Reminder**** Never pack valuables (jewelry, electronics, money, documents) in your checked luggage! Always put those in your carry on bag.

Thank you for tuning into this edition of "How To" on Tamara's Travels.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Domincan Republic - Packing Whoops

I returned from my glorious six day five night trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic on Saturday. We stayed at the Club Med resort which was absolutely perfect. I highly recommend it. Besides the rooms being comfortable and spacious with a balcony and a view, the food being delicious and all inclusive, the activities provided were the best! We took sailing and windsurfing lessons, tried our hand at archery, and even endured the heat on the tennis courts. The night-time activities are fun too with live music nights and a DJ nightclub on the beach. We never had to think of anything to do, everything was already planned for us. We just chose the activities. No stress.

There were only two disappointments on my trip and neither one of them had to do with the actual trip, but mistakes I made myself.

The first, I completely and utterly over packed, which is usually not a problem for me. But this time, I failed. Want to know what I packed too much of? Clothes to wear during the day! Who wears clothes in the Caribbean during the day?! I wore a bathing suit with a cover up every day. I brought two bathing suits and two cover ups and alternated them between the days so I wore each one twice. Did I wear any of the three pairs of shorts I brought? No. Did I wear any of the tank tops I brought to go with them? No. Did I wear any of the three sweaters or two pairs of jeans I brought (apparently I forgot what 90 degree weather feels like)? No. I'll tell you what I DID wear (other than the bathing suits and cover ups). I wore each of my five dresses/skirts for night-time (dinners and dancing always call for dresses) and I wore half of the exercise clothes I brought (it was much too hot for me for most of the exercise classes). I only brought four pairs of shoes and wore all of them; night wedges, night sandals, flip flops, and tennis shoes. I even managed to wear all the jewelry/accessories I brought to go along with my night outfits. Bathing suits and night-time clothes only from now on. Lesson learned.

Of course, to go along with my over packing, I under packed a few things (or just plain forgot them). I have horribly uncomfortable reactions to bug bites. I remembered to bring my prescription anti-itch cream (good last minute toss in the suitcase) but completely FAILED to bring bug spray! Luckily, the gift shop had bottles for sale... for $17.00!!! I sucked it up and bought one, because I desperately needed it. Lesson learned.

I also thought that bringing the book I was currently reading (Haruki Murakimi's Norwegian Wood) and another book (Barbara Kingsolver's Pigs in Heaven) would be enough reading for the plane rides and the beach. I was wrong. I finished the Murakami on the plane before we even landed in the Dominican Republic and I finished the Kingsolver the day before we left. I really tried to put the book down, but I just couldn't. I was forced to buy a trade paperback that I didn't have much interest in reading at the Punta Cana airport for $10 when they usually cost just $8 in the US. Le sigh. Lesson learned.

If you're planning on sitting on the beach for the majority of your vacation, don't pack clothes to wear during the day and bring enough reading material. Oh, and hot and humid equals MOSQUITOES. Bring bug spray to spare your skin and your wallet.