Protect your stuff when you travel

Last fall my husband and I took a long and wonderful trip. We were gone for six weeks and we visited Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia. Because our trip was so long and the climates we visited were so varied, we took 5 large suitcases and two carry-on bags. Temperatures on the trip ranged from 20 to 110 degrees.

Because our base of operations would be Sydney, we arranged with our hotels there to store our unneeded luggage both when we flew to Alice Springs and when we visited the South Island in New Zealand. In both cases, our luggage was stored in the hotel baggage rooms and there was no evidence of pilfering.

We had all of our luggage when we were on the cruise portion of our trip, so everything was fine then. When we arrived back in Sydney, we had one last night in a hotel. Frankly we were tired--and as can happen in such circumstances, we let our guard down.

We always travel with our cameras and my jewelry in our carry-on luggage. We have done that for years and we have never had anything stolen. When we were packing our bags to come back to the US, we let our guard down. We placed our cameras in one piece of luggage and I placed my jewelry in my primary bag.

I keep wondering why we changed our pattern! When we arrived home and began to unpack, we discovered we were missing a few things. There were two camera bags in the one suitcase. While both contained Nikon DSLRs, Ron’s contained a lesser camera, but our best lens and the flash unit. Not only was his camera gone, the thief went so far as to remove the BlackRapid camera strap. He left it in the bag. He did not touch my bag or camera which had a kit lens attached.

Also gone were some of the contents of my jewelry traveling bag. While I had a number of good pieces with me, most of the high-value pieces were in a smaller zippered pouch that I normally carry just my smaller earrings in. He opened the bag, grabbed the smaller pouch and left the other pieces.

I have read that notice on the airline tickets and on the airline Web site many times. The airline is not responsible for items such as jewelry and cameras stored in checked bags.

Fortunately we have very good insurance and a special plan that covers certain items up to a specified dollar amount, but not everything was on that list.

We had neglected to add that spiffy new lens of Ron’s. I had a number of nice pieces of costume jewelry that I did not even have in a photo. Worse yet, I didn’t have an inventory of what I took.

As I said, we have a great insurance company. They have paid us for the covered items that we lost and could enumerate. We have gone shopping and replaced the items.

We have learned a few lessons along the way. Now, all high-value items are enumerated with our insurance company, we have had appraisals done on both my new jewelry and other valuable items that we did not take on the trip. We also plan to take digital photos of the items we will be taking with us so that we cannot miss any items in our trip inventory.

However, the most important lesson we have learned is DO NOT place valuables in checked luggage!

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