How Losing my Luggage Changed My Life

in travel •  5 months ago

Hello you beautiful Steemian you! Sending you my love and light on this glorious day!

Today I’d love to share with you a short story of how losing my luggage actually gave me so much freedom and paved the way for me to make some big life changes.

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In November of 2013 my two best friends and I decided to travel together to Thailand. It was my first time ever going to Asia, and one of my first few times leaving the country. One of these friends and I had recently moved to Austin, Texas all the way from Detroit, Michigan, and we were just settling in to our new lives. But in the midst of all this newness, we took a break from our new routines and travelled around the world to a completely new culture.

During our travels, one of our flights was delayed, and so we were cutting it very close to catching our connecting flight from Japan to Thailand. When we got off the plane, there was an employee waiting to quickly escort us to our next flight, and we rushed onto the plane just before takeoff. But unfortunately, our luggage couldn’t move so quickly. So when we arrived into the Bangkok airport, our luggage was not there.

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We had flown on Delta airlines, so they gave each of us a little toiletry bag specifically for people who lost their luggage. The bag contained your basic toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, comb) and it also had an XXL white “Delta Airlines” t-shirt, and a pair of socks. My two friends had packed a few extra clothes and essentials in their carry-ons, but silly me, all I had was the smelly clothes on my back and my journal and book... and now a super awesome Delta T-shirt!

At this point in my life, I’m not proud to admit, I was quite high maintenanced. I was the type of girl who spent at least 30 minutes curling her hair each day, and at least 10-15 minutes caking on a layer of makeup. I always wore nice, put-together outfits, including lots of mini skirts and high-heels. So to be dropped into Thailand (where there are so many opportunities for photos!) without my make-up and clothes and curling iron….it was a disaster! (it’s so silly to reflect on this, but it was so very true at the time).

Photos from a lifetime ago, when I used to spend an hour getting ready.

So the next day comes, and it’s time to go off on our first sightseeing and tourism adventures. Because there are so many temples and sacred spaces in Thailand, it is very important to have your shoulders and knees covered, so I was unable to wear the tank top I had travelled in. So my only option was to wear my new super cool Delta t-shirt! I wore the same pair of leggings that I had travelled and slept in, and the silly turquoise Sketchers sandals that I had worn as well. I think I may have borrowed some makeup from my friends, but it was very minimal, and my hair was definitely not styled.

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Some photos from that first day in Thailand, wearing my awesome outfit

At home I would never have left home looking the way I did, but we only had 14 days to explore Thailand, and I wasn’t going to let a silly outfit stop me from seeing this new land and experiencing the new culture.

Throughout our first few days in Thailand, this was the outfit I wore. I eventually purchased a new shirt and bought my first pair of elephant pants, but our luggage took about 3 days to arrive, so for all that time I was make up-less and curling iron-less and didn’t have many options in the clothes department.

But being in the calm energy of Thailand, surrounded by the Buddhism and relaxed way of life was so refreshing. It was so nice to be in a place where people felt calm and comfortable and modest and relaxed. In America, it feels like everyone is always rushing to get somewhere. People are always trying to present themselves in a certain way, and so often trying to be the center of attention. But here in Thailand, a calmness rushed over me. I didn’t feel so worried about how I looked, but was more interested in just BEING. “Mai bpen rai”, they say here in Thailand, which basically means “No worries”. And “Sabai Sabai”…. "Everything is chill; just relax"…. And throughout our trip, I slowly began to take on this relaxed and easy way of life.

So when our luggage finally did arrive….something quite extraordinary happened. I realized that I didn’t really need it, or even want it. Living without “things” for a few days really opened my eyes to the fact that I didn’t need to spend an hour getting ready each day, and that I no longer wanted to. Being in the calm space of Thailand allowed me to become a sort of “jungle woman”... crazy hair, baggy elephant pants, relaxed sense of being, and a go-with-the-flow sort of attitude.

So when my stuff arrived, I did start wearing my normal clothes again (and clean underwear!), but I didn’t care so much about “getting ready” each day. There were nights when we got dressed up to go to a nice dinner and that sort of thing, but my day-to-day routine of getting ready was much different; much more simplified.

The rest of our Thailand adventure was incredible. It was the first time I visited my now-home of Chiang Mai, and the first time I got to experience fruit shakes for $1 and glow-in-the-dark plankton swimming in the seas around the Thai islands. But mostly, it was this lesson of loving myself as I am, without makeup and fancy hair and clothes, that was the most important thing Thailand gave me.

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And when I returned to my new home of Austin, Texas, this lesson stayed with me. I ended up having much, MUCH MORE culture shock on my return to the USA then I did upon arriving into Thailand. On our first night back, my friend and I went out to the bar to catch up with our friends, and we found ourselves hiding in the bathroom because it was too much noise and commotion for us! But it didn’t take long to get back into our routines and lives there.

Luckily, Austin is a very humble city. People wear what they want, when they want, to where they want. An no one really cares. In most establishments you can find those who were dressed up to the nines alongside those who were wearing a baggy t-shirt and jeans. It doesn’t really matter. I found that people were more interested in what you had to say than what you were wearing.

So, after my return from Thailand, I found myself leaving the high heels behind and replacing them with flats and sandals. The mini skirts were replaced with elephant pants and leggings. I took out my hair extensions. I stopped getting a spray tan. And most exciting of all, I stopped caking on the makeup and started appreciating my natural beauty.

Clothes and appearances do not make a person, so I learned to dress in a way that made me happy and comfortable, instead of what I felt society wanted me to wear.


And today, this has never been more true. Here in Thailand I am surrounded by so much natural beauty. Sure, it’s nice to dress up and wear some make up sometimes, but day-in day-out, I am completely happy and comfortable just being me. I love being able to rub my eyes without smearing my mascara, or wipe the sweat from my forehead without messing up my foundation. I love my messy, graying hair, and my incredibly comfortable clothes. And I love all of those around me who love ME for ME, and who are happy in their own skin as well.

I look back on old photos of myself and can’t believe how I used to dress. I was covering up my confusion and stress and sadness with makeup and clothes, but I am so much more happier now.

Photos of me today

Everyone is beautiful. Every single one of you. You are a miracle. You are a gift. You are beautiful. Let us not let society and the media dictate to us what “beauty” is. Beauty is constantly being re-defined, but true beauty is confidence and a love of yourself, as you are.

If wearing makeup makes you happy, then go for i!t!! But don’t do it because everyone else is, or because the media has told you you should.

Let your inner light SHINE, because it is more beautiful than any outfit or makeover could ever be.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I greatly appreciate all of your support.

Remember that YOU ARE AMAZING! And I love you!!!

Until next time,
🌈 Rachel
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What a sweet story Rachel..glad you ditched the high maintenance garb. I've never been a high maintenance girl... can't even imagine It!!! Xx


I'm so much happier now, and in my opinion that shows in my appearance now too.
From a young age (5 years old) I had to start wearing makeup for my dance performances and competitions, and I think that played a role in my desire to start wearing makeup so young. And then it was magnified by media and society.....So, SO happy I got out of that space and mind-frame.


You look like a GORGEOUS natural girl and much more comfy in your own skin xx it must have been quite liberating for you xx


Thank you @riverflows! I do feel so much better, and I actually feel more beautiful now, all natural, than I ever did back then. Self love and acceptance baby!

Very lifechanging indeed,you could call it a turning point I guess!

Same herr with moving to the island of Sint Martin for me. Forget blow drying your hair, it makes no sense! Forget mascara and blush, you will sweat it alllll off!

Welcome to the new you!


Hahaha, Yes! Absolutely! Happy we can relate. With all the sweating that goes on, I love being able to wipe my face without worries!

Great that you were able to take a positive lesson from an otherwise annoying situation! As a travelling musician, I find that as long as I have my instrument with me, the other stuff can be borrowed or easily found at short notice!

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This is a such an awesome story about the transformational power of LIFE! It even more fantastic that you were receptive to the changes. Good on you!

I am glad that your life changed due to such an event. You look pretty without makeup though. I have never been a makeup person. I can't stand it on my face. I don't know why. Thank you for sharing 😊

Yea. Life is beautiful... and everything happen for a reason

I'm waiting for the "How stealing someone's luggage changed my life". lol

Yes Yes Yes!!! I'm not a fan of Delta for all kinds of reasons, but right now , they're my new favorite! Good for you :) I'm originally from Windsor, Ontario by the way, just across from Detroit, but lived most of my live in Vancouver, Canada, although now, I reside in sunny, relaxed Mexico and every now and again, some mascara hits my face, but that's about it! Life is about living and loving...yourself included! So glad you figured that out years ago :)


Oh Windsor....I've got some funny memories from that place. The drinking age is only 19, compared to the US' I've spent many the 19th birthday there haha. Sunny, relaxed Mexico sounds much better! I am now in warm, sunny, relaxing Thailand! Yay for us! haha