Travel tales

Taking on the Lost Luggage challenge in Slovenia

Ljubljana lost luggage

Over the years, I’ve become more and more of a light packer. I only check in baggage once or twice a year if I’m travelling long haul, and have downsized my carry on to a smaller suitcase. I’m happier the less luggage I have to cart around with me, but travelling without any luggage at all? That’s a whole new challenge – and one MoneySuperMarket asked me to try out on my recent trip to Slovenia. It’s all part of their #MSMLostLuggage blogger challenge, to highlight just how important it is to have travel insurance.

Over 15% of insurance claims relate to lost or damaged luggage, so it could well happen to you. Despite mainly travelling with carry on, I’ve lost my luggage twice – once it got left behind in Frankfurt en route to Budapest and delivered the next day, the other time it went missing for three days between Edinburgh and London on my disastrous non-trip to Canada. But this time I was leaving everything at home on purpose, with just a passport, purse, phone and Kindle to get me through. I did also bring my husband along with his fully stocked suitcase (of his own stuff only) and permission to borrow anything that would help. But five days of no camera, no guidebook, no spare clothes and no toiletries – how tough would it be?

Read more: 5 reasons to fall in love with Ljubljana

Ljubljana views from the castle

Ljubljana castle views

Day 1: Ljubljana

The Ljubljana forecast promised 20-degree dry weather (it lied), so I went for a travel outfit of vest top, cardigan and sandals. Getting through the airport with nothing but a handbag felt very liberating – the downside to my carry on packing is I’m normally pulling a suitcase around. Though without it I did have the odd panicky moment thinking I’d forgotten something. We arrived into a cloudy Ljubljana, but as we climbed out of the taxi in the city the heavens opened, with crashing thunder and pouring rain. As we sheltered under a shop awning I was already shivering and starting to regret choosing sandals as my only shoes.

Once the rain stopped and we checked in to our apartment, our first stop was the shops. Normally I’d go exploring and find a square to relax in with a drink at this point, but as it was almost 6pm and I’d no idea what time shops closed in Ljubljana, it was time for a bit of panic buying. Google came to the rescue with directions to a nearby H&M where I stocked up on the essentials – jumper, clean underwear, top to wear out that evening. The next-door Spar sorted me out with basic toiletries, and the DM pharmacy with some make up. By this time I was shopped out and in need of some food. We found an Italian restaurant which only had space on the terrace so I layered up my new clothes and huddled under a blanket to stay warm.

Bought: jumper, top and underwear (€44.97), deodorant, face wipes, toothbrush and toothpaste (€11.75), moisturiser, foundation, powder and eyeliner (€25.25).
Borrowed: a t-shirt to sleep in, socks to warm up my chilly feet, adaptor plug to change my phone.


Lovely Ljubljana

Day 2: Ljubljana

Our first full day in Ljubljana was a beauty so we took advantage of the sunshine to climb to the top of the castle and wander along the canals. I knew the one thing I’d miss having most was my camera, so I borrowed my husband’s (and kept it until we left!). Post-sightseeing I needed to get more clothes, so after not spotting any other shopping areas it was back to H&M for round two. After trying on far too many pairs of trousers and not finding anything I liked that fitted, I gave up and went for a Spritz instead. The search for warmer shoes went just as badly but I did find an umbrella just in time for another huge rainstorm.

Bought: long-sleeved top and vest top (€19.98), another top and umbrella (€45.98), mint tea bags (€1.19).
Borrowed: camera, hairbrush, mini shampoo and conditioner.

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Looking out over Lake Bled

Day 3: Ljubljana to Lake Bled

Another morning of glorious sunshine in Ljubljana meant another trip to DM to buy sun cream and to top up the mini shampoo and conditioner we’d both been using. By this point I’d accumulated a fair bit of stuff, but with no suitcase to carry it in I had to resort to stuffing it all in a carrier bag to transport it back to the airport to collect our hire car. As we had no guidebook – or sense of direction – we also thought it was a good idea to pick up a Slovenia road map before heading to Lake Bled. Bled had more clothes shops than I was expecting so I managed to pick up a pair of shorts for our lake walk, giving me chance to do some washing so I had enough clean underwear – and trousers – to last the trip.

Bought: sun cream, mini shampoo, conditioner and shower gel, razors (€6.25), Slovenia road map (€8.10), shorts and vest top (€37.90).

Walking through Vintgar Gorge

Green waters in Vintgar Gorge

Day 4: Lake Bled

A grey and chilly day in Lake Bled, so I was back in lots of layers for a walk through Vintgar Gorge. I also managed to clamber up a hill to a scenic viewpoint in my sandals. We finished the day off with a slice of Bled cream cake and a sunset walk around the lake. After spotting a sign for a hotel panoramic terrace we walked up to catch the sun go down over the lake, only to find that the gate was locked on the way down so we had to scramble underneath a fence to get out, trying to avoid getting my one set of clothes too muddy.

Bought: nothing other than cake.

Walking through Vintgar Gorge

My faithful sandals!

Day 5: Lake Bled to home

Our final day in Bled started off with a mini road trip into the mountains of Kranjska Gora on our way back to the airport. My plastic carrier bag was bursting at the seams so I squeezed some of my clothes into my husband’s suitcase. When we got to the airport I found out my Kindle battery was flat – a book lover’s travel day nightmare. Luckily the tiny duty free shop in Ljubljana’s departure lounge came to the rescue and a USB charger was my last purchase before heading home for a happy reunion with my bags!

Bought: USB charging wire for my Kindle (€11.99).

Dusk at Lake Bled

Lake Bled at dusk

The verdict

I ended up spending a total of €213.36 (£167) – which doesn’t sound too bad for five days, but is quite a bit for just a few clothes and toiletries. Especially when you think my share of the flight and accommodation cost for the whole trip was only £185. Luckily Slovenia isn’t too pricey and has a decent selection of shops, but I can think of a few places I’ve been to in the past where things would’ve been a lot harder.

For me (and undoubtedly my husband) the worst part of the challenge was having to spend so much time shopping. I’m not the best shopper and normally in and out of clothes shops in five minutes flat. But having no clothes meant I had to find something to buy even if I didn’t like anything. It was annoying having to duplicate the same toiletries and clothes I already had at home too. I did learn though that most things you can find if you need them, so don’t get too stressed about packing everything you might possibly need. The only thing I desperately missed having was my camera… and maybe another pair of shoes!

Lost Luggage Challenge purchases

My final purchases

My tips

  • Take a hand luggage bag of essentials on board with you so you at least have basic toiletries and a change of clothes to get you through the first night if your bag does get lost.
  • Choose your travel outfit carefully – go for layers and unless you’re going somewhere with guaranteed sunshine I’d wear some decent shoes rather than sandals or flip flops which are easier to replace.
  • Make sure your checked in bags are well labelled – it’s a good idea to have a piece of paper with your name and contact details inside the bag too in case the luggage tag falls off.
  • Make sure you have decent travel insurance in case the worst does happen.

Pin it

Taking on the MoneySuperMarket Lost Luggage challenge in Slovenia – how easy is it to get by on a five-day trip with just your passport, money and phone? –

Big thanks to MoneySuperMarket for inviting me to take part in the challenge.

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  • Reply
    May 19, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Hello! That’s a weird challenge… and then what do you do with everything you now have in double?

    • Reply
      May 22, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      I only really had duplicate toiletries so will use them up eventually – or have a ready packed travel kit for my next trip!

  • Reply
    Shikha (whywasteannualleave)
    May 19, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    This sounds like such a fun challenge Lucy – though I hate shopping so would probably resent having to do any in a place as beautiful as Slovenia! Just read the link to your disastrous Canada trip – what a nightmare that sounded like it was! Isn’t Lake Bled just the prettiest?! Sitting there having a cream cake with that view is one of my favourite ever travel foodie moments 🙂

    • Reply
      May 22, 2016 at 3:16 pm

      I’m the same with shopping – kept thinking of all the other things I’d rather be doing (like eating cream cakes by the lake!). My Canada non-trip was definitely one of my worst travel days, and not the best wedding anniversary either!

  • Reply
    Suzanne Jones
    May 19, 2016 at 11:05 pm

    Slovenia looks so pretty and that shot of Lake Bled is gorgeous – I need to learn to pack lighter but maybe not this light!

    • Reply
      May 22, 2016 at 3:14 pm

      It is a beauty, bit disappointing that it was so cloudy at Lake Bled but we did get a gorgeous dusk to make up for it!

  • Reply
    May 20, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    I’m glad you enjoyed Ljubljana and Slovenia – it was truly one of my favorite European destinations ever. I kept seeing references to your not having your luggage but assumed you had lost it; what an interesting challenge to have taken on! I’m a super light packer, too, but the shoe thing would have driven me crazy!

    • Reply
      May 22, 2016 at 3:13 pm

      The shoes were definitely the worst! Just having one other pair would’ve been fine. It was interesting to see what I actually needed to get by though, and what I could do without – will see if it helps my future packing skills too.

  • Reply
    May 20, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    Ah, Lake Bled and cake! One of my favourite European trips. I loved sitting on a terrace with a good cup of coffee and a Bled cake and looking out over that lake. I need to pack lighter too when I travel as I never wear half of what I take and you can easily buy toiletries wherever you go.

    • Reply
      May 22, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      I’ve got better at packing over the years, when I did a RTW trip 12 years ago I looked like a turtle with this enormous rucksack on my back! I do have a tendency to stuff a few extra things in though just in case so this has shown me how little I really need to get by.

  • Reply
    Ladies (@LadiesWhat)
    May 20, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    Well done for surviving that challenge Lucy, I would have been a total ball of stress! Glad you got to enjoy Slovenia though, it’s a beautiful part of the world, isn’t it? I travel to Budapest tomorrow for a short break – making sure I board with many layers! 😉

    • Reply
      May 22, 2016 at 3:10 pm

      Slovenia was just stunning – and luckily had plenty of shops! Enjoy Budapest, it’s another great city, I haven’t been for about 15 years so am well overdue a revisit.

  • Reply
    May 20, 2016 at 11:02 pm

    I always forget suncream, and it’s annoying how expensive this can be if you buy it on the spot.

    • Reply
      May 22, 2016 at 3:08 pm

      As I usually travel with hand luggage I end up buying it at the airport and dumping it as it’s too big for the liquid allowance to get back home, or buying tiny ones and running out. Just need someone to invent those sun burn protection pills they’ve been talking about developing for years and it’d be a lot easier!

  • Reply
    May 21, 2016 at 9:08 am

    You are braver than me! I would hate being without my things (although i’ve learned to pack a lot lighter since my daughter has started taking up half the suitcase). I’ve had my suitcase go missing a couple of times although only temporarily and usually on the way home. The worst was 5 days of lost bag in Madagascar which isn’t a great place to replace essentials! Thankfully I was with my mum and could borrow lots of things – I remember lots of hand washing.

    • Reply
      May 22, 2016 at 3:07 pm

      Madagascar sounds like much more of a challenge, in most European cities you don’t have to go too far to find an H&M! It’s a bit of an expensive way to travel every time, but has made me realise that I can pack lighter still and won’t struggle to find things too much.

  • Reply
    May 21, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Slovenia is so beautiful, you definitely convinced me to visit it next year! I don’t know how I could manage without my luggage. Well to be fair, I wouldn’t manage without my camera, the rest can easily be replaced, haha

    • Reply
      May 22, 2016 at 3:02 pm

      It is such a gorgeous place, well worth a visit. My camera was definitely the thing I missed most, though luckily I could borrow one else it would’ve been an expensive trip buying another!

  • Reply
    May 28, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    I always thought losing a bag would ruin a holiday but when it actually happened to me in Jordan a couple of years ago, I realised that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. As you said, the most annoying thing was having to spend time shopping – 4 trips to the shopping mall in 3 days was not how I expected to spend time in Amman!

    PS – Slovenia has now climbed a few steps up my travel wish list!

    • Reply
      May 29, 2016 at 11:31 am

      The shopping really was the worst bit! Normally I’m a very quick in and out shopper but when you have to find something you end up dragging yourself around shop after shop – can definitely think of better things to do on a trip!

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