Backpacking lesson 1: Never, ever leave your luggage unattended..

We were staying in Playa del Carmen (very american and pretty expensive) and learned our first valuable backpacking lesson: Never leave your luggage unattended!

We were checking out of our hotel (Maya Bric) early in the morning and had to wait until 23.40 before our night bus to Belize would depart. So we asked the lady at the reception if we could leave our bags in the lobby (there were already some bags stalled). ‘No problem’ she said, ‘ you can leave it here and we will watch it for you’. Even in Mexico this sounded reassuring to us and we left for a day of working at the beach (seriously, we were working). Later that day we got back to the hotel, changed our clothes, put our backpacks back in the same spot with the other luggage and we went to diner. After dinner we just passed our hotel to the Starbucks and I looked inside and this is what I saw:


OUR BACKPACKS WERE GONE!! We first thought it was a joke but quickly learned that it wasn’t… All of our clothes, shoes, everything was gone.. Fortunately for us we had been working and our daypacks with passports, money, cards, laptops etc were still with us. Turns out, there had been a taxi driver who was supposed to pick up eight pieces of luggage but who picked up ten!!  We started to make calls to the airport, taxi companies, tweeted to people at Cancun Airport (where the driver was going) and googled the name of the driver (that was the only lead we had..) To make a long story short: we found the driver, located the company, called them at 22.30, they had our luggage. Only problem, their office was in Corozal, Belize about 350 km away from where we were. We were supposed to travel there overnight but because of our rescue attempts we had missed our bus. Fortunately the hotel offered us a free night (and paid for the other nights we had stayed there to make up for the damage!) and we travelled the next day to Corozal. This was a long but amazing journey.. I will tell you more about that in another post. Eventually at 18.30 we arrived in Corozal, our bus dropped us of right at the location where we were told to come and pick up our backpacks… Our fingers crossed and butt cheeks tightened we walked in and there they were! Happy as two children we hugged our backpacks, thanked the guy who brought them there and went to a hotel.. We were very lucky to have them back and  from now on, our backpacks are either locked to a pole or we keep them with us..We were staying in Playa del Carmen (very american and pretty expensive) and learned our first valuable backpacking lesson: Never leave your luggage unattended!


Steven Zwerink
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  • Bart Elferink
    Posted at 20:50h, 14 December

    What a story. Good thing you got this experience early in your adventure!

  • Daniel
    Posted at 23:24h, 14 December

    Very fortunate indeed- the other golden rule – only take with what you can carry on your back! It’s easier to run when your hands are free….

  • Edwin Berends
    Posted at 07:49h, 15 December

    Trust your hearts stopped beating when you saw your luggage went missing! Where are the good old luggage storage rooms when you need them!? Amazing story of getting reunited, and very generous of the hotel to sponsor your stay. Miracles are sometimes waiting to happen.

    • steven
      Posted at 18:16h, 15 December

      Edwin, fortunately miracles happen! Another miracle: heard your girlfriend is studying in Enschede? With my brother and my niece!

      • Edwin Berends
        Posted at 22:43h, 15 December

        Hi Steven, that’s right! The Zwerink family is ruling Enschede, it seems. They are all in the same pre-master class for Communication Studies. Quite challenging, at start there is a lot of philosophy, research methods & statistics. Enjoy your time in Belize & greetings to Diana!

  • Eveline
    Posted at 06:48h, 16 December

    Ooooooooh this is really funny guys, and I’m sure you won’t be surprised that I’m not surprised that you lost your bags 🙂 It is incredible that you’ve found them again though!

    Maybe you should start to consider to reduce your belongings even further to daybags only…? A bit radical but I’m sure you’d rock it!