One of the most enjoyable parts of traveling the globe is finding exciting and interesting mementos. Whether you are the type to scour the unknown streets for truly one-of-a-kind items, or are happy with the common goodies in your typical tourist shop, one thing we all face is finding a way to get this stuff home. Sometimes this is easier said than done.
On my last trip to Japan, I had quite a souvenir adventure of my own and was actually in a panic hours before flying home. One of the “must haves” I wanted to pick up was an umbrella. The local girls in my office had the most adorably slim and delicate umbrella—which I fell head over heels for. So, I made it a mission to hunt down a few to bring back.
The day before we were to fly home, I went out shopping and happily purchased two gorgeous umbrellas. I was so thrilled and even worked out a deal with a colleague that she would carry one and I the other onto the plane. In my mind, all was just peaches and cream.
However, at about 3 a.m. I woke up in a cold sweat and realized that my VERY long and pointed metal tip umbrellas would probably not be allowed on the airplane, since they might be considered weapon-like. I jumped out of bed and tried to stuff my two expensive keepsakes into my luggage, but they didn’t fit! They were at least four inches longer than my suitcase.
This is when I began to really panic. When dawn finally broke, I went around to a few other colleagues and asked if I could try to fit it into their luggage—but the same problem still existed. Yikes! What can I do with just two hours to go before leaving for the airport?
I ran down with my umbrella to the concierge desk and begged them to call the airline to confirm that I could not take it onto the plane with me. Well, they did call, and no, I could not bring it on with me. So naturally, I proceeded to beg them to help me find a solution to package these things so that I could check them in as my 2nd bag.
After many unsuccessful translation attempts to communicate this specific dilemma to the ladies behind the concierge desk, a manager with better English skills came out. She brilliantly said that she had a Fed-Ex poster tube box that they might fit into. I was on the edge of my seat hoping and praying it would fit. When she returned after a bit, she handed me the box. Much to my delight, they fit PERFECTLY with not even a quarter inch of room to spare.
I was able to pack both umbrellas nicely into this box, wrote my name and address on it, and checked it in with my suitcase. When the box arrived in perfect condition at JFK airport, I was so happy it all worked out. But, I did learn a big lesson in the process.
For sure, I will limit last-minute shopping for big objects in the future. Big or bulky shopping should be done early in your trip so that if shipping or finding proper packaging is necessary, it can be done without too much drama.
As always, I wish you all happy travels!
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 21 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.