The long awaited river cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg began with flight changes and delays, but the coach to take us to our boat was waiting for us at the Moscow airport. Unfortunately, my luggage was not. By the time we waited until the last possible moment, explored all options to deal with lost luggage and filled out all the required lost baggage forms, the coach had gone to the boat without us. It took some time and doing to find anyone who knew a little English and where the boat launch was – and who would not rip us off excessively.

Things got better when we found a nice, English speaking entrepreneur with a new car who got us to our boat. There, the helpful crew told us not to worry about our lost luggage, they would look after everything and I could expect my bag the next morning. Alas, the lost baggage did not show up the next day or the day after that and only arrived after five days. Any later and the boat would have been out of reach until the end of the cruise.

My task (and I had no choice but to accept it) was to figure out how best to get the most possible enjoyment from my cruise when all I had was what I stood up in. It was not too difficult. The obvious solution of shopping for replacements was more difficult. I am a very small person and have trouble finding clothes and shoes even in large centres. The boat was always in a different place in the evening than it was in the morning, so it was not easy to take a day off to shop. To do so, I would miss the sightseeing and events that had attracted me to the cruise in the first place.

I wear minimal make up. Lip gloss and eyebrow pencil are in my purse along with a comb. Holidays away, especially in summer, are preceded by a short, wash and wear haircut. The airplane had provided a comfort bag with a toothbrush, etc. Grooming was now manageable.

Reading for me is one of the great pleasures of being on holiday. Burying myself in a book is also a very effective coping strategy to deal with unexpected delays or the insomnia that strange beds and places can sometimes generate. Too bad, on that pre-Kindle trip, all my books were now in the lost luggage. Fortunately, the boat had a paperback exchange shelf with a big historical novel fat enough to fill my literary needs for the cruise.

Aha, you are saying, dealing with all these peripherals is nice, but what about clothes? For travel, I dress comfortably. I arrived on the boat wearing casual slacks, a comfortable knit top and sandals. That and my underwear was what I wore for five days. Any spots or stains were immediately spot washed. Undies, etc. were washed out in the sink at night, well wrung, blotted in towels and hung to dry with help from the hair dryer if needed.

The lack of pyjamas was not a problem. Sleeping commando can even help your love life, and I did have the option of borrowing one of my husband’s tee shirts. Dressing for dinner could have been a problem, but this cruise, like most nowadays, required only casual clothes. A scarf, some jewelry or a change would have been nice, but a big smile, a friendly manner and a funny story helped to turn evenings into very pleasant happenings regardless of my unchanging outfit.

The only lack that bothered me was my inability to do enough cardio exercise to work up a sweat because if I got my clothes sweaty, I would have nothing to change into. I could go for walks. My sandals were designed for walking, not ballrooms. My comfortable pants and top lent themselves to yoga and Pilates. I could even do gentle weights. On holidays, I always do fewer reps with lighter weights in any case. Running, however, had to wait for the lost luggage to arrive.

On the fifth day, with much jubilation, the suitcase appeared. On the morning of the sixth day I had to face a problem I had not had for a while—what should I wear today?

What I learned about lost luggage:

  • Don’t get uptight about packing. The value of a trip rarely depends on what you have in your suitcase.
  • Less is more. It is amazing what you can do without and don’t even miss when you don’t have it. Less luggage means less to carry, less to pack and unpack, and less to lose.
  • If something is vital, like meds, or psychologically, like a favourite bracelet or perfume, carry it with you.
  • Finally, while it is nice to be dressed up, you are more than what you wear.