No matter how prepared you are for a travel experience abroad, unexpected experiences are sometimes inevitable. Trang Tran, a UIUC graduate & 2-time FIMRC alumna, faced the common fear of any international traveler: lost luggage. As a guest blogger, she is reflecting on her recent trip to Peru and sharing some travel tips for future volunteers.
Back in November, I went on my second FIMRC trip – this time it was Project Huancayo in Peru. I had previously been to Project Bududa in Uganda a few years back and that was an extremely memorable experience. I expected my trip to Peru to be equally as smooth as my trip to Uganda, however it did not go exactly as planned.
My flight began in Chicago with a layover in Miami. From Miami I flew into Lima. Upon arrival in Lima, it was discovered that my baggage was not transferred from Miami and it would be another 24 hours before my luggage would arrive. All of my clothes, toiletries, everything was in my checked baggage. Unfortunately for me, I could not stay in Lima and wait for the luggage to arrive – I was to board a 10-hour bus to Huancayo in a couple of hours. My biggest packing mistake was forgetting to pack an extra set of clothes in my carry on because I ended up wearing the same outfit for three days in a row. At that point, there was nothing to do except laugh at the situation and at myself – of course this would happen on this trip, the one trip where time was of the essence! I’ve never had issues with baggage when traveling before. I usually throw away the luggage stickers that are given to me during check in (thank goodness I didn’t throw it away this time!).
Once I arrived in Huancayo, the FIMRC staff was very attentive and sympathetic to the situation I was in. They communicated with the airline to coordinate transportation of the luggage and took me shopping to get clothes for the following days. It was, overall, a humbling and hilarious experience. My advice for anyone in a similar situation would be to stay optimistic and be flexible – things may not go exactly as planned but there are always people who are willing to help. If you happen to go on a FIMRC trip, you have the support of the awesome FIMRC family. My second piece of advice would be to pack extra clothes and other essentials in a carry on bag to avoid a situation where you have to wear the same outfit multiple days in a row. Losing your luggage in a foreign country is never a fun situation, but on the bright side, it’s always nice to have entertaining stories to bring back home to family and friends.