A few years ago, my boyfriend and I took a trip to Italy. We missed our connecting flight, barely made the second flight they booked for us and 8 hours later, arrived safe and sound in Milan. Our bags didn't.
While I can't say that I was happy at the time, I'm so grateful we had that experience.
Here are the 25 things I owned during our first three days in Italy:
Things I brought from home in my carry-on bag/wore on the plane:
-large canvas bag
-phone (it didn't work in Italy but it was good for checking the time)
-2 pairs of underwear
-2 pairs of socks
Our hotel gave us:
-deodorant (which I would skip next time because Italy was so hot that deodorant didn't actually make a difference).
The only other thing I needed was sunscreen but it was super expensive. Also, we were meeting Ian's parents the next day and I knew they'd have some so I just tried to stay in the shade.
When I think back on that first day, I remember feeling uneasy and uncomfortable. It was so odd to not have any stuff, stuff I thought I needed to have a good vacation, stuff I thought I needed to survive. It took a few hours of walking around Milan before I realized I already had all the stuff I needed. I had money for food and transportation, a place to sleep and an awesome traveling companion. I was in a foreign country where I didn't speak the language, where I had little more than the clothes on my back and yet I was ok. I was even having fun!
For the first three days, Ian and I washed our clothes every night and put them on damp every morning. We saw beautiful sights and it didn't matter that I wore the same shirt every day or that I didn't have any makeup on.
When our luggage caught up with us in Venice, my first thought was "omg, clean underwear!" My second thought was "What was I thinking?! I don't need all this stuff!"
I truly value all the lessons I learned that weekend. I learned how very little I actually needed to survive and to be happy. I learned that carrying everything I own in one bag is a truly awesome feeling. I learned that experiences are more important than possessions. I learned that I'm never packing a suitcase for a European vacation ever again (suitcases + trains = annoying!) I learned that happiness is a freshly laundered pair of underwear and that jeans will not air-dry overnight. And most importantly, I learned that gelato makes everything better.