Lost Luggage – Don’t Let it Be a Vacation Bummer

Jim and I flew to Vegas one year, with snow on the ground here in Philadelphia.  We arrived at the airport in Las Vegas only to find our bags were snow delayed somewhere in Chicago.  I was wearing stirrup pants (don’t judge – they were still in fashion) and a butt covering, thick wool sweater.  Did I mention it was 90 degrees in Vegas?  I sweat my ass off as we walked to the mall at Caesar’s, only to find out almost everything there was so far over my budget and under my size, I was certain I’d have to be naked the whole weekend.

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There is nothing that can ruin a vacation faster than lost luggage.  Beyond what you need to do with the airline to help track down your bags, there are a few things you can do to make sure you’re not devastated in that just in case moment.

1 – Be prepared with your carry-on bag.  Make sure any medications you’ll need are in there, along with money, credit cards, attraction tickets, and identification.  Beyond that, throw an extra pair of panties in there, along with some clean socks.  If you’re going somewhere where a bathing suit is needed, put it in your carry-on.  If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried on 4,298 suits, ordered from 184 different online vendors, and it’s unlikely you’re going to find one you’re comfortable in at the resort gift shop.  Going out for dinner your first night?  Pack a nice blouse – one that will work at virtually any location.

2 – Dress for your destination.  Had I just put on a t-shirt with a sweatshirt over it before I left Philly for Vegas, I would have been WAY more comfortable when I arrived by just taking off the sweatshirt.  Jeans are good just about anywhere, and can be rolled up into a capri pant (or an ankle pant) if your destination is warm.  Another good thing about jeans is that you really can wear them to just about any restaurant – dressed up with that nice blouse you have in your carry on bag.

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3 – Talk to your hotel concierge or front desk.  Before you make that run to the local Walmart to replace your toiletries, check into your hotel.  Most hotels will have a pretty well stocked bathroom – soap, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion.  Some hotels, however, also keep a supply of toothbrushes and toothpaste, combs, disposable razors, and other small toiletries that might get you through at least your first night or two, at which point, your bags might actually arrive.

4 – Have a positive attitude.  Yes, this is inconvenient.  You might have to spend money you didn’t budget for – although hopefully, you’ll get money back from your airline.  But do your best to make it work.  If you’re vacationing for fun, put the worries on the back burner and have all the fun you intended to have.  If you’re traveling for work, use this to show people what a trooper you are – even without luggage, you’ve shown up on time and are raring to go.

If you let this ruin your trip, it will.  So don’t let it!

 

The Art and Agony of Being Elmo

My kids call them “Sad” – as in “Sad” Mickey, “Sad” Minnie, and “Sad” Elmo.  You find them all over near the tourist attractions in New York City, but they seem to cluster in Times Square.  They are the people who dress – badly – as your favorite characters.  Some have heads that aren’t quite the right shape or costumes that look like they could use a good cleaning, but tourists flock to them to have their photos taken.  And to make a donation that might be supporting a family here, a family in Mexico, a family in Ecuador.

Sad Mickey

The New York Times did an article this past weekend about these characters – most of them immigrants, many undocumented.  They pay big money for those costumes.  Mostly made in Peru, Minnie Mouse might set you back over $400, unless you can find it used for half the price.  But they buy the best costumes they can afford.  They don’t have to speak as their characters, so the language barrier is no problem, and many of them don’t speak English.  They do, however, try to impart some familiar trait to their characters.  They want kids to be comfortable approaching them.  And they work for whatever tips the tourists give them to stand for a picture or two.

Sad Pooh

I never knew anything about the sad characters.  And honestly, we’ve made fun of them and we’ve chuckled when we’ve seen news articles of Elmo losing his shit and trying to take out a tourist.  But there’s so much pressure on these characters.  The competition for real estate on the street continues to get tougher, and the aggression has to come out if you want to be recognized over the four other Elmos vying for the attention of the tourists.

Sad Elmo Arrest

It seems like regulation is the way to go to protect not only the rights of the street performers in those costumes but the tourists as well.  But with regulation may come things like permits, licensing fees, even paying taxes.  Not that they shouldn’t be paying taxes, but again, some of these people support not only a family here, but families back home as well.  The burdens are great and the money so scarce.

Now I feel like they truly are the “sad” characters.

Sad Elmo