9 Things People Always Lose While Traveling

See recent posts by Jane Reynolds

It's the worst feeling. Your connecting flight is taking off, you reach into your bag, and your iPad's not there. But you just had it! You were using it on the previous plane! Then an image of it wedged into the seat pocket on your earlier flight flashes into your mind. Or it's that moment when you ask yourself "Why didn't I just look under the bed like my travel companion said?" when you realize your wallet isn't in your back pocket.

A study by esure found that we spend an average of 10 minutes daily looking for lost items -- and often the likelihood of losing personal items is heightened during travel, when you're more distracted. As Daniel L. Schacter, a Harvard University psychology professor, explained to The New York Times, "When we’re traveling we are very focused on the goal of the trip and what we do when we get there."

So what are the items travelers seem to lose? Here's a list of both common -- and kinda crazy -- things travelers always seem to lose.


1. Laptop

Laptops are not only one of the most commonly lost items while traveling, but also one of the most precious — particularly when it’s a work laptop loaded with private information. A 2012 study reported that about 12,000 laptops are lost in airports every week. In a rather odd survey, Mozy found that Americans are twice as likely to lose their laptops compared to Germans.

2. Keys


The same Mozy survey revealed that Americans are four times more likely than Germans to lose their keys, although keys seem to be a commonly forgotten item among all travelers. Novotel, part of the AccorHotels group, released a report on the items guests most often leave behind in their hotel rooms. Top among them: keys.

3. Unmentionables

The Novotel report claimed that underwear is the second most forgotten item; adult toys were the seventh.

4. Cell phone

Not surprisingly, cell phones are easily misplaced items — and not only while traveling. But when you misplace your cell phone on the road, it can be much more difficult to retrieve. John Wolf, Vice President of Consumer Public Relations at Marriott International, told The Washington Post that cell phones are the most commonly forgotten personal items in Marriott hotel rooms worldwide.

5. Camera

It also makes sense that travelers leave behind their cameras while on vacation. Nowadays, many travelers simply rely on their smartphones, but those who do bring their cameras forget about them since they’re not something they check for everyday as they walk out the door. One 2013 report found that cameras were in fact the top lost travel item that year, with about one of every three people losing it while traveling.

6. Wallet

The same report found that wallets (or purses) came in second on the list, just barely behind cameras. The standing, however, is based not just on lost wallets, but also those that are pickpocket-ed, or swiped from purses nonchalantly left under tables and in dressing rooms.

7. Sunglasses

Ugh, this happens every time! How often do you come back from a trip needing to purchase (yet another) pair of sunglasses? You’re not alone; 27 percent of travelers lose them.

8. Child

Yep, you read that correctly. No, losing a kid isn’t common among travelers; less than one percent admit to losing a child in transit, and fortunately all of those who said they did also reported finding them. (How quickly, we’re not sure.) But a child is certainly one of the craziest “lost item” we’ve heard of.

9. Dignity

Perhaps not so surprisingly (flashbacks to Cabo, anyone?), we have the most stats to prove that dignity is often left behind by travelers — both business and leisure. (That is unless, of course, those identified in this category have no shame.) First of all, there’s been a significant rise in “unruly passenger incidents” on airlines over the last decade. As The Guardian reports, there were 500 cases of such incidents in 2007; compare that to 2014, when 8,000 were reported. Most were caused by passengers becoming unruly from alcohol, heated interactions with other passengers, or being told not to smoke.

And once travelers arrive at their destinations, it doesn’t get much better. In a 2015 survey conducted by On Call International, a quarter of participants admitted to binge drinking during business travel and, according to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 44 percent of female undergraduates and 75 percent of male undergraduates get drunk every day during spring break. The “lighter” results of this behavior is some embarrassing photos or videos and hangovers, but of course some outcomes, such as lost jobs or even death, are decidedly more serious.

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