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What We Left Behind: AFAR Staff on Our Most Valuable Items Forgotten in Hotel Rooms

Which way to the lost and found?

Here’s the story: It’s well-past checkout time, you were supposed to be at the airport about 15 minutes ago, and you’re scrambling to get out of the hotel lobby. It’s not until you’re safely in your window seat, the seatbelt light is on, and you are about to sink into an inflight movie that you realize you left something in your hotel room. We’ve all been there. Read on for some of the AFAR staff’s most frustrating stories of precious items left behind in hotels—including desperate (and sometimes successful!) attempts to reclaim our lost possessions.

“I’ve lost numerous iPhone chargers to hotel rooms, but I still cringe thinking about when I left an entire make-up bag at The Edition in South Beach, Miami. I’m a secret beauty junkie, and that bag had hundreds of dollars of lipsticks, powders, eyeliners, and other products. Thankfully, they were able to ship it back to me. In the meantime, I relied on drugstore purchases and, upside, found a multi-use, cheap product that I still stock up on to this day: Maybelline Expert Wear Eyeshadow Single in Linen.” —Danielle Walsh, associate editor 

“I left my Cabbage Patch Kid in a hotel room in Hawaii when I was a little girl, and it took me years to get over the heartbreak. We never reunited. Much later, I left my SLR camera on the bed at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand, and they had to keep forwarding it to my next destination. Each time, I would miss it by a day. It finally caught up to me the day I left. Thank goodness for my iPhone, or I’d have no photos of the achingly beautiful landscape.” —Jennifer Flowers, deputy editor  

Follow Trigger the bear's travels around the world!
“Confession: A little weird but I travel with a teddy bear named Trigger. It started as a way to remind me of home when I was on the road, and now he’s sort of become my travel mascot. On one of our trips, in a rush to leave a hotel near Zion National Park, he didn’t make it back into the car. Thankfully, the hotel was able to mail him home to me.  See his travels here: Trigger in the World.” —Lou LaGrange, business development director

“I forgot to clear out one entire drawer in a Sydney hotel room. It of course happened to be my ‘underthings’ drawer. And because women’s lingerie is not cheap, I emailed them when I got back home and asked them to slow-boat it back to me. The hotel must have had a sympathetic female GM, because they sent everything back by express courier, with each item carefully folded and wrapped in tissue paper!”—Jill Greenwood, AFAR Experiences director 

"The most annoying thing I ever left in a hotel room was a big white, fluffy bath towel! It was the first night of my big post-college graduation road trip across the American South and since we were staying at Motel 6s and the like, I thought I'd bring a piece of luxury with me. We drove 10 hours from Philly, checked into a highway-adjacent Motel 6 outside of Knoxville and I used my brand new towel as an extra pillow. And left it there the next morning. It would have come in so handy too—boating on Lake Austin, picnicking at Jesus Day in Little Rock, that motel in Alabama that HAD NO BLANKETS.  Sigh, what a great trip." —Sunshine Flint, freelance branded content editor

“A couple years ago while in Perth, Australia, I left my iPad—more important, my iPad with an entire season of VEEP—in my room at The Terrace Hotel. I ended up watching a fantastic Kiwi dark comedy about hipster vampires, What We Do in the Shadows, on my five-hour flight to Sydney. And a day later, my Julia-Louis-Dreyfuss-loaded device was waiting for me at my new hotel room.” —Andrew Richdale, senior editor 

“I left my passport at a hotel room in Phuket—or so I thought. When I got to the airport to check-in, I realized I didn't have it with me. Panic struck me, because if I missed my flight to Bangkok I might miss my next flight to Sydney too. I hysterically called the hotel from a pay phone at the airport. They checked everywhere and couldn’t find it. The last place it could be was in the cab (which we had luckily booked in advance from a tour company). When I called them they said the company was going to find out and call me back—only problem was, I didn’t have a phone with me. So they asked me to wait at the place the cab driver dropped me off.  All I could hope for is for the guy to show up with my passport. It was the waiting that nearly killed me. Then 10 or 15 minutes later, the taxi guy showed up with my passport! I thanked him with my life—what a good man! I only had 20 minutes before the flight, and Air Asia was nice enough to let me bring my check-in luggage right to the gate and got me on the plane.”—Denise Hoo, digital ad operations director 

Has anyone in Montreal seen a pink sandal?
One shoe. Twice. On two separate occasions, with two different pairs of shoes. I never got it back on either occasion—called and they promised to reach out of if it showed up in housekeeping. Some Canadian is walking around Montreal with one pink sandal on, and an Indonesian is walking around in a single gray heel that is likely too big on them. Keep your eyes peeled!” —Maggie Gould, executive marketing director 

“When my son  was younger, we left his blue and white stuffed dog, Wednesday, behind in the Amsterdam Marriott. I think it was nestled under the comforter or a pillow. We let them know, and they tracked it down and sent it back to us in the United States. That was the last time we let him take a stuffed animal on a trip. Just kidding.” —Jeremy Saum, executive editor 

“Work laptop. Drove the four hours back to get it the same night as I drove four hours to get home (because they would not enter the room to verify that it was either there or not there).”—Sherry Jin, director of engineering 

“When I was about five my mom splurged on the Disney Hotel and Disneyland for us kids, and she bought me one of those dolls that would pee when you fed it water at one of the hotel’s gift shops. I left it behind and remembered when we were at McDonald’s drive-through about 50 miles away. I was heartbroken. (Recent update: My mom says I threw such a fit that we drove back to get it. There was a happy ending!)” —Breanna Rhoades, HR director 

“I also left a doll in a hotel room when I was younger. It was the first stop on a long road trip en route to pick my brother up from camp. My mom called the hotel when we noticed and they said they could send it back to our house. Unfortunately, I didn’t have it for the rest of the road trip. I think we ended up going to a toy store and finding almost the exact same doll to tide me over, and when we got home I had twins!” —Samantha Juda, audience marketing specialist 

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