We asked you, our well-traveled readers, to divulge your worst packing disaster stories. And it turns out most of you have experienced a packing setback or two while traveling the world, from airplanes running over luggage strewn on the tarmac to suitcases filled with invading iguanas.
While it’s unfortunate that so many of you had problems with lost bags, suspicious TSA agents, forgotten essentials and broken luggage, we thoroughly enjoyed reading about your packing misadventures. So the next time airport security confiscates our bottle of shampoo, we’ll think of your packing disaster stories and acknowledge: It could have been worse.
Check out the 10 most interesting, unusual and/or hilarious packing disaster stories we received.
“I was returning from Sacramento to Las Vegas, my former home town. We had just spent a successful four days duck hunting in the Buttes. I had shot my limit of eight ducks, and my friends decided to share eight of their ducks with me. Unprepared for such a take home, I purchased an insulated backpack at the airport. It nicely held all 16 dead ducks. These were all vacuum-packed and ready for storage. The lady at the counter suggested I check the bag since it was so heavy. Upon arriving in Vegas, I heard an announcement that the plane’s luggage didn’t get loaded and had missed the flight, and that the airline would deliver my luggage within approximately 24 hours. I immediately told the agent what was in my bag, and what a stink it would make in the cargo hold if it wasn’t retrieved instantly. Amazingly, two hours after I left the airport, there was a delivery man at my doorstop with my bag and all 16 ducks. If the airlines ever lose your luggage, tell them you have dead animals in it — and they miraculously find it!” — Yvonne C., Washington
“My husband and I packed for our two-week cruise last year to the western Mediterranean. Was I ever sorry when we were held up by the storm in Philadelphia on the coast. We were blissfully unaware that our suitcases were sitting on the tarmac while we waited out the delay. We arrived and boarded our cruise to unpack our dripping wet clothes! One pair of my shoes had disintegrated in the wetness. Our suitcases stank, and we did our best to hang clothing all over the room, since using dry cleaning onboard means really being ‘taken to the cleaners!’ — $3 per panty! Never again will we travel without making sure our clothing, toiletries, etc. are safely sealed in plastic baggies!” — Linda, Ohio
The Carry-On Challenge: How to Pack Light Every Time
“While packing to return home from Aruba, we found we only had 20 minutes to get ready. There were eight of us trying to get things in order and into suitcases. As a family we made a mad dash to stuff suitcases by turning dresser drawers over and into the suitcases. Yes, we did make it to the airport on time — but returning home and unpacking would be the next endeavor. While unpacking we found baby iguanas that had apparently nested in our drawers. We will make it a point to carefully pack the next time around.” — Rosemarie K., New York
“I work for a company that has an office in Spain. Whenever one of our employees heads over to Spain, we always send him or her with an extra suitcase full of supplies. It’s cheaper to check an extra bag than to mail it. We recently sent a new employee over and with him a suitcase filled with all kinds of things. There were the standard tape measures, safety vests and office supplies, but there were some odd things as well. For instance, a Crock-Pot, an unmarked brown bag of mixed nuts and various packets of Crystal Light drink mix. As his suitcase was being unloaded in Spain, the zipper broke and some of the Crystal Light packets burst, thus spilling out a powder onto the ground. Of course, the airport employees were immediately suspicious, and everything stopped while they got security out to the plane. Our poor employee was fetched from baggage claim and taken into the security office to be questioned. He had a hard time explaining, in limited Spanish, that the Crystal Light was ‘powder you put in your water to make it taste good.’ The concept does sound a little ridiculous if you think about it. Eventually, our supervisor in Spain was called in to clear him of any suspicion, but he did spend several hours in the security rooms of the airport being questioned. What a great way to say, ‘Welcome to the team!'” — Kristi, Michigan
7 Things Not to Do When Packing a Carry-On Bag
“We were traveling to the West Indies to spend a week on a Windjammer. We knew that we would not have a lot of storage for our luggage on the boat so we went to a sporting goods store and bought a small, soft-sided duffel bag. When our plane arrived in the islands I did not see my bag anywhere. Then I saw it … out on the runway. A plane had just run over it. My clothes were everywhere! When I retrieved the bag, I was told that the airline had not caused the damage.
“Meanwhile, my undies, etc. were falling out all over the place, and there were tire tracks on the bag. I proceeded to seal up the bag with duct tape.” — Dianne S., Florida
“I have no personal recollection of this story, but my mother tells it so it must be true. When I was about 3 years old, my aunt and uncle invited me to travel with them by train from our home in Chicago to visit my grandparents in Lincoln, Illinois. I ran to my bedroom, threw a pair of panties in a paper bag and returned to announce, ‘I’m ready to go!’ I remember this every time I’m packing for a three-day trip and can’t decide if I need that fourth (or fifth) pair of shoes.” — Joan, Illinois
“While I was preparing for a two-night stay with friends who live about a four-hour drive away, without my knowledge my 3-month-old kitten, Kasi, had crawled into my overnight sack and made herself at home. When I got to my destination and opened the sack, Kasi jumped out, scared me half to death and irritated my friends (who were not animal lovers). Needless to say, most of my first day there was spent in the laundry room, and I had to cut my trip short and return home on the second day.” — Norma W., North Carolina
Don’t Miss Top Travel Tips — Sign Up for Our Newsletters
“While at the airport checking in for a flight to Rome, we learned that my suitcase exceeded the airline weight limit, which annoyed my dear husband immensely. In his anger, he tried to ‘lighten the load,’ so to speak, and thereby I watched in horror as he randomly threw my underwear all over the floor of the terminal.” — Joan O., Florida
“After bumping our suitcases up a very narrow staircase, my two sisters and I finally reached our room, which had a balcony overlooking Lake Maggiore. Crowding onto it to admire the views, we stepped back into the room and heard a persistent buzzing sound. After searching everywhere for the origin, we decided it must be in the pipes or something, so I went downstairs to get the manager and demand another room. Puzzled, the manager came back with me and she too searched for the source — then she walked toward my suitcase and said the noise was coming from there. Opening the suitcase, I found my battery-operated toothbrush. The bumping on the stairs had somehow knocked it on! Three very embarrassed ladies apologized profusely to the unsmiling manager, and just managed to keep it together until she’d left the room before collapsing on the beds in fits of giggles. For the rest of our trip around Italy I kept the battery and toothbrush separate!” — Wendy S.
The Ultimate Guide to Travel Packing
“Years ago, I took a trip to New Orleans and packed my airline ticket in a secret compartment in my carry-on luggage (after checking into the hotel). A week later, I was packing for my return trip home and realized I couldn’t find the return airline ticket. I surmised the maid must have taken it and summoned the hotel security staff. A report was filled out, and upon getting to the airport, I filled out a lost/stolen airline ticket report, paid the fee and flew home. Many years later, I was packing for another trip and stumbled across the secret compartment. You can guess what was in it — that old airline ticket!” — Greg T., New Jersey