We’ve seen some strange things in people’s suitcases, but this just might take the cake: Last week, a Thai woman was arrested for packing a baby tiger cub in her checked luggage.
According to ABC News, the woman was attempting to smuggle the cub (which had been drugged and “hidden” among a bunch of stuffed tigers inside her suitcase) into Iran, where it could have been sold for a tidy profit on the black market. The cub has been rescued and sent to a wildlife conservation center, while the woman is looking at a hefty fine and up to four years in jail.
Although we hope that none of our readers are intentionally smuggling exotic creatures when they travel, it turns out that several of you have had some inadvertent animal encounters when packing — check out our Top 10 Packing Disaster Stories for the surprising true stories. (Wildlife involved: iguanas, kittens, ducks…)
And animals aren’t necessarily the strangest things to make it into your suitcases. Our readers regularly write in to ask whether they’re allowed to bring certain out-of-the-ordinary items onto a plane. A partial list:
- A hand-held taser (um, NO)
- A license plate
- Sea kelp
- A blender (for making margaritas in flight?)
- 10 pounds of scrapple
- A device for shaving back hair (we are not making this up!)
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever packed?
Could you travel around the world without a single piece of luggage — not even a small backpack or a purse? Just how necessary are those guidebooks or that extra pair of shoes?
Ask travel writer Rolf Potts. On August 22, he embarked upon the No Bag Challenge — a six-week, 12-country trip around the world during which his gear will be limited to whatever he can stuff into the pockets of his cargo pants and travel jacket. (The trip is partially sponsored by SCOTTEVEST/SeV Travel Clothing, which is supplying much of Potts’s wardrobe, including an 18-pocket Tropical Jacket.)
Items on Potts’s initial packing list included some basic toiletries, a few ultra-small gadgets (camera, iPod Touch), a couple of lightweight T-shirts and pairs of underwear, and some concentrated detergent … since he’ll be doing a lot of laundry!
Now four days into the trip, Potts is holding strong on his resolution to go bagless — and his body odor hasn’t gotten him thrown out of a restaurant yet. In addition to soaping up his dirty undies and T-shirts each night before bed, he also notes in a blog post that he plans to shower twice a day when the opportunity allows.
On the surface, it seems like Potts is taking the time-tested idea of “packing light” to a ridiculous extreme. After all, not everyone finds washing clothes in the sink every night to be a worthy use of precious vacation time. But is his journey really so outlandish? The challenge of packing less is sure to appeal to those of us who are sick of paying the airlines’ ever-increasing baggage fees, and it’s also an intriguing experiment to see how much stuff we really need when we travel.
We want to hear your opinions: Is Potts’s suitcase-free sojourn a heroic stance against consumerism and airline baggage fees — or is it just silly? Would you ever want to try traveling without a bag?
On the IndependentTraveler.com Facebook page, we asked our readers to reveal the worst thing they’ve forgotten to pack on a trip. Their answers ranged from passports (tragic!) to pajamas (marginally unfortunate). Here are a few comments we received:
Lauren S.K. wrote, “My daughter’s passport (we went the next day). Second worst thing was underpants. I guess you know where I went first when I got to Germany: the department store.”
Said Carmen C., “I use the same packing list every year, never forget anything.”
Kudos to you, Carmen! And thanks for giving us an excuse to shamelessly plug our Interactive Packing List, a customizable checklist of more than 100 commonly packed items that you can print or e-mail. Making a packing list before you leave for vacation is a failsafe way to avoid having to purchase new underwear in a German department store.
What’s the most important thing you’ve forgotten to pack? Spill the beans on our Facebook page, or post your comment here!