On Vacation… What Not to Bring
On our recent 5-day jaunt to Iceland, we experienced the typical jet lag that comes when flying across multiple time zones. We packed the first day, as usual, with just the right amount of activities and some rest time. First we had to find a place for breakfast. This was difficult given that Iceland is a rural once you get outside of the Reykjavik “metro” areas. We found a breakfast place that was open in a very rustic and cute waterfront restaurant in a fishing village. Next we headed for the Blue Lagoon and the thermal baths. It was wonderful getting into the steaming baths in the freezing cold temperatures drinking an ice cold Icelandic beer! I was getting swept up in the experience of this wonderful and enchanting Island in the Greenland Sea!
After concluding the thermal bathing experience, we headed for Reykjavik where we stopped at the local grocery store to pick up a few snacks for the week. We finally arrived at our hotel in Reykjavik. As I went into my laptop bag, I noticed that I had brought 2 things I did not intend to bring. I brought a checkbook (that I rarely use) and a small black book with all of our banking, email, social media, investment accounts, etc. user ID and passcodes!! Holy moly! It is not a book that I use for these ID’s and passcodes any longer. Prior to my December 31, 2018 retirement, I never knew when I would need those passwords and I carried them with me at all times. I just didn’t realize I had brought them. So into the safe they went.
The evening’s activities were splendid, involving a beer-tasting of the various Icelandic craft beers that were paired with tapas style portions of various local foods. After this our guide met us to take us in his “Super Jeep” outside of the city to see the Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis. In the freezing cold weather outside the lights of Reykjavik we were fortunate and did get to to see the Northern Lights! It was a fabulous experience! When we got back to the room, we were exhausted. It had indeed been a very, very, long day. The next morning, we overslept and were in a bit of a scramble to get showered, dressed, packed and then downstairs for breakfast. After a filling breakfast we proceeded to load the car, and get on the road for the day’s activities.
We drove along the Southern portion of the Ring Road and saw some of the fantastic sites that Iceland has to offer. The group hiked to a waterfall so were able to get some exercise in for the day. We drove a lot on this first day. It was getting late when we finally arrived at our next destination We realized we needed to find a restaurant pretty quick. We unloaded, headed into town, and enjoyed a splendid evening in a very hip restaurant. After dinner, we returned to our hotel and enjoyed a nightcap before going to sleep. The next morning when I put my laptop in it’s bag I realized that the passcode book and checkbook were not in the bag. Thus began a frantic search through all of my baggage, backpack, and computer bag. We were unable to find those two items.
As the reader might well imagine and appreciate, I was tortured with by the thoughts of accounts being drained, our credit cards being maxed out and our online identities stolen. Worst of all, we could be stuck with no way to continue on our adventure. The absolute worst thought was that I would have to return to some form of work upon our return. Yes my friends, the mind can spin some really horrible scenarios . I have always been one to “plan for the worst, hope for the best”… We called the hotel where we stayed the night before, but they were not yet open. We waited and called again and were finally able to speak with someone at the hotel. They asked us to email them so they could alert the head maid who was not due in until 9:30 am. So we did and we waited in a state of turmoil, unsure of what to do in this bizarre situation of my own making.
Before departing for the day, I called the bank’s 800# to ask them to put a freeze on my online banking. They were able to do this , but only after going through a rather rigorous authentication process. Frankly, some of the questions were so old, that I was unsure of the correct answers to them. Finally, we got through it all and they suspended my online access. That did not resolve what to do about all the other accounts. Well, you get the picture I’m sure. I hoped that some honest soul found and secured them. Hopefully, nobody would be tempted to see what was behind the digital curtain.
I decided that at this point, I was not going to worry about it. We had closed off the primary source of any access that could lead to our being pillaged. We drove for miles and miles that day and saw even more amazing sites in Iceland. As we were leaving the last activity that day, my wife received an email from the hotel in Reykjavik. They had found the missing items. They would put secure them for us fto pick up when we returned to Reykjavik in 3 days. My intensity over this issue eased and I was able to get back to normal more or less. But still, the thought lingered…. what if? What if? There’s that two word, simple phrase that can plague me so often…
So we wound up our Iceland vacation and drove back into Reykjavik. The first stop we made was at the hotel to pick up my items. Included in the plastic bag was my checkbook, and my passcode book, and the manual for my Garmin InReach. I learned that it is very easy to put off packing and approach it with a somewhat blasé attitude. That is not going to be the case for our next adventure. Going forward, I am going to approach everything I bring similar to the packing of clothing: minimalism; when in doubt, don’t bring it.
On this trip to Iceland, instead of the usual ‘hub & spoke’ approach to our accommodations (where you stay in one spot for several days, and day trip out from there), the geography was such that we were moving every day. not staying more than one night in any one location.
I did not spend the appropriate amount of time matching our itinerary with my clothing needs. Nor did I go through my computer bag thoroughly to insure I didn’t bring unnecessary items. Thus, the bullet dodged in this situation will bring about very careful planning and coordination on our next trip.
Thankfully I had changed most of the passcodes in the book. We checked all of our accounts upon our return and everything was in good shape. There were no compromises and no lost funds. Whew!!
See our newly completed and released Itinerary:
Experience the Beauty of Iceland:Experience the Beauty of Iceland