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When you are a family travel blogger you document everything. You take pictures of street signs, your hotel room, your food, the locals… When you are a family travel blogger AND a mother, you have pictures of all of those aforementioned things plus 4,000 pictures of your child on any given trip. It is very easy to fill up even a large memory card fairly quickly. And those pictures are priceless.

You probably already know where this is going, and many of you are probably cringing as you wait for the next sentence confirming what you already suspect.

I lost our camera.

Parenthood and Passports - Family Travel Blogger's Nightmare
Walking through San Pedro… camera in hand. About to take another picture.

How I lost our camera

Parenthood and Passports - Family Travel Blogger's Nightmare
Trying to calm a squirmy toddler on one of our three flights home from Belize.

Somewhere in route home from Belize and Guatemala, our camera disappeared. Stolen? Maybe. More likely though, it fell out of our carry-on luggage under the seat of the plane when my ever-curious toddler decided to dig through the bag. I didn’t realize this until we returned home around midnight Wednesday morning.

I put our cranky, exhausted toddler to bed while my husband started unpacking our bags. (We hate to leave bags packed until the next day…We are just weird like that.) As I walked out of our daughter’s room, my husband asked the question that made my heart sink.

“Honey, what did you do with the camera? It’s not in any of our bags.”

Parenthood and Passports - Family Travel Blogger's NightmareUgh. I had to fight back tears as I thought about the hundreds of pictures and videos we had taken. All of the special memories we made with our daughter, Avery, she will have no record of now. She is still too young to remember much of anything, so at this age pictures are even more important.

Of course, we’ve taken the appropriate steps, contacted the airline and the airports, hoping and praying an honest person found our camera and turned it in. It’s been 18 hours and we haven’t heard back, so I’m not holding my breath that we will see our camera, or the pictures on it, ever again.

Parenthood and Passports - Family Travel Blogger's Nightmare
Hiking to the river in the Cayo District of Belize… Camera AND smartphone in hand.

Sure, we took a few pictures on our smartphones, but not many. In retrospect, I should have brought my laptop and uploaded the photos each night. I should have triple checked the area of the plane where our sneaky toddler probably discarded the small, yet expensive piece of equipment containing all records of our trip. I should have guarded that camera the way I guard my child and passport. But I didn’t. I didn’t do any of that, so now I’m blogging about my mistake.I’m blogging about it so that maybe you can learn from our misfortune.

Lesson other travelers and family travel bloggers can learn

No matter how stressed you are trying to wrangle a squirmy, tantrum-throwing toddler on a plane. Regardless of how tight your connection is, and how quickly you need to get off the plane to dash through the airport, make sure you take a peak under the seat and in the seat back pockets. Make sure you don’t step away from your luggage in a busy airport ever, which is hard sometimes when chasing after an active 16 month old.

Moral of the story for all my fellow family travel bloggers or for travelers in general: your camera is your best friend. It is your reporter notepad. Your professional colleague. It is your lifeline. For travel bloggers, without your camera, your blogs are just words. Don’t lose it.

Update: We got our camera back! Read about it here.


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32 thoughts on “A family travel blogger’s nightmare”

  1. I had a camera stolen in Egypt, with two full memory cards. I had no hopes of it ever turning up again, but I told the management of the hotel where I stayed anyway. Three months later I received a package in the mail from..yep, Egypt. It held all three memory chips. The two in the camera bag and the one that I still had in the camera. I bless that thief who took pity on this old lady and turned in those chips to the hotel. Hoping the airline finds yours.

    1. Hoping for a similar outcome, Suze! I’m crossing my fingers and toes and praying that it’s returned. I’ve heard from several other travelers who reached out on social media that have had similar things happened, too.

  2. Oh that’s horrible I’m so sorry to hear it. I was lucky that when I was mugged I had uploaded my GoPro photos to my phone and my phone was connected to iCloud. So while both those things were stolen I still had access to most of the photos. Fingers crossed for a miracle for you!

    1. Thanks! I’ll definitely be uploading everything a lot more frequently in the future. Or maybe I’ll get one of those super awesome fanny packs to carry my camera in and really look like a tourist. 😉

  3. That’s horrible. As a Professional Photographer that would be my worst nightmare. I’m going to Belize in September. I will take the time to download my photos onto my phone every night. Prayers that you at least get your memory cards back. Be even better if you got your camera back. Sorry this happened to you but an excellent heads up for the rest of us.

    1. Have fun in Belize! It’s a great country! Let me know if I can help as you plan your trip. If my camera was stolen, the thief can keep it for all I care. Yes, it was expensive but I really just want the pictures. The camera can be replaced, the memories cannot.

  4. I feel for you. I left my camera somewhere on a cruise ship last year. Fortunately, I download each day’s photos every night to my laptop, so no pics lost.

  5. So sorry to hear, Melissa. Besides backing up all my stuff now on external drives, I have also started uploading to google photos, as another safeguard, plus it’s free.

    1. Yeah, my husband does that with his smart phone pics. Very smart. We are looking at cameras now that have built in wifi capabilities so we could upload photos without connecting to a computer.

    1. Ugh.. It’s a miserable feeling. After several years you forget certain aspects of a trip, but when you look back at pictures you say “Oh yeah! Remember that?!” I’m sorry you lost your honeymoon pics. That would be a really, really tough one.

  6. I know that gut sinking feeling! At the end of our trip through Egypt and Jordan, we were on the way to the airport when my husband and I did our normal check list which included camera. Luckily we hadn’t made it far when we noticed it was gone and our first inquiry at the hotel resulted in the camera as we had left it at security when we went through while checking in.

    Our trips since we have done regular syncing with any available computer to our cloud storage.

  7. Oh no!! So sorry to hear that. Hopefully you can keep the memories fresh and vibrant in your head in the case the memory cards don’t find their way back to you.

    1. I hope so… I may be writing a lot of pictureless blogs in the coming weeks, just so I’ll have some kind of digital record of our trip that our daughter can read later in her life.

  8. Oh the things I lost with a toddler. iPods, cameras and clothes. (I still have no idea where my favorite bra went all those years ago.) You are a good mom, because while you lost the pictures, you have the kiddo and the memories. You also have a good story to tell her later in life, complete with smartphone pictures. Now, forget your crazy ideas of uploading pictures every night. Maybe multiple memory cards, so you can swap them out and only lose some pictures? Sorry you lost your camera, but thanks for sharing!

      1. Ha! Thanks! I’m just farther down the “traveling with kids road” and know some of the best memories are of disasters. Like the time my kid knocked her grandma down at luggage claim. Humiliating then, fantastic now.

  9. I feel your pain. When our sons were younger, we traveled to California along with my Mother, Daddy, and Aunt Marie. On our way home–the last night of our trip–someone broke into our van in the hotel parking lot and stole some of our luggage. My luggage contained all of the film from our cameras. We do not have pictures of that trip, but we do still have wonderful memories–especially since it was the last trip that would include Aunt Marie.

    These days at bedtime with our sons’ children, instead of reading stories I like to tell the grandchildren stories about their daddies and other family members. That trip has many wonderful stories for me to share. The grandchildren love hearing about their daddies and other family members and our adventures over the years. They do remember what I share and sometimes ask me to share specific stories.

    1. How heartbreaking to lose all the pictures from your last trip with your aunt! While pictures are great treasures, they definitely can’t replace the stories and memories. Thanks for reading and for sharing your own experience too!

  10. Oh that’s so terrible! It’s awful losing a camera. I had my camera stolen once and I was devastated – it’s not so much the camera but all those precious photos and memories. I shall be guarding mine very closely when I travel to Greece next month.

    1. Yep. I couldn’t care less about the camera, all I want are the pictures. Not just for the blog but for my daughter’s scrapbook. Consider labeling your camera with your name and phone number or address so if you lose it, it might find its way back. I’ll do that from now on.

  11. Uggh so sorry!! That’s terrible. I think we’re all guilty of not uploading as often as we should, especially while traveling and things are hectic. I know photos can’t be replaced, but at least going forward you know you’ll have a new system and way of making sure this never happens again.

  12. Note to self fownliad all my photos tomorrow when I’m home from London. It’s the photos of the kids that would upset me the most. Hope you at least get the memory cards back.

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