No matter how experienced a traveler you are, I’m sure you use a list. You might use a checklist you printed off the computer or you write your own. Either way, you feel confident that you packed everything you need. Then you arrive at your destination and realize you forgot your phone charger!
It’s happened to us all. We forget something in the chaos of packing. In fact, many people forget to pack the same things.
Most of the common things we forget to pack can be replaced by running to a local supermarket. But if you're traveling somewhere more exotic, you might not be so lucky. You’re better off making sure you don’t forget them from the start.
Here are some items you might forget to pack
They vary depending on where you’re going. You won’t need gloves if you’re going to the beach. And you won’t need a ton of sunscreen if you plan on staying indoors for the better part of your trip. The list below includes the most common things you might forget to pack.
Reusable water bottle
Who hasn't seen the pictures of plastic water bottles floating in our oceans? Why add to that pile? Bringing a reusable water bottle with you is an eco-friendly and healthier option. We suggest the Yeti Tumblers because they keep whatever you are drinking extra cold.
Reusable water bottles keep water colder. Fill it up before leaving the hotel and sip it throughout the day. You can even refill it at local places. It’s not impolite. Unless a place has a stingy rule for offering free water, most will do it if you ask. Have a bottle for each member of the family.
There’s nothing worse than forgetting a laundry bag. It means you have to store your dirty clothes with your clean ones. On the off chance you forget a laundry bag, ask the hotel staff for an extra garbage bag.
A great way to make sure you don’t forget a laundry bag is to make it the first thing you pack. Because it’s flat on the day of departure it fits perfectly at the base of your suitcase. We love The Laundress laundry bag because of the zipper closure and the fact that it is machine washable itself
First aid kit
While most hotels will have first aid on hand, what do you do mid-travel? It’s always a good idea to keep a few bandages with you. Don’t think you need to pack or carry around a hefty first aid kit. They make portable travel-size ones you can fit in your purse.
If you still think the portable size is too big, simply slip a few bandages into your makeup bag. Band-aids take up no room and are good to have on hand. Think of blisters you might have had in the past. Ouch!
Reusable shopping bag
This is another great essential for those eco-friendly travelers. Reusable shopping bags come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Most are foldable and can be tucked in your purse or in the side pocket of a suitcase. Empty them out each time you get back to your room and reuse them the next day.
We all break our diet rules on vacation. While you can still choose to eat healthy, it’s harder when you’re not home. That doesn’t mean you can’t put in some effort.
The day before departure, prepare a couple of healthy snacks. Create your own bag of mixed nuts. Stock up on apples and carrot sticks. Stuff a few granola bars in your bag. Whatever you decide to bring, you’ll feel better knowing you at least tried to stay healthy on your trip.
Are we ever going to go somewhere without hand sanitizer again? Probably not, but because it’s such a small item, it’s easily forgettable. Pack one or two bottles in your toiletry bag and slip another one in your purse. If you’re going hiking, clip one to your bag. Their size makes carrying them around super convenient.
Like hand sanitizer, lip balm is small and easy to forget. The day before leaving, check the status of the one in your bag. Is it running on empty? If so, replace it immediately. Don’t think you can get another few applications out of it. Just replace it.
For peace of mind, toss another one in your makeup or toiletry bag. No matter where you go, if your lips get chapped quite often, having extras on hand will be worth it.
If you’re going to charge your phone or any electronics the night before leaving, you might need to put a big sign on your door that says, “CHARGER!” Chargers are important but forgettable. Most of us leave them plugged in the same place and never move them.
Consider purchasing a travel charger. One you only use for, well, travel. Keep it in your suitcase so it’s always there. This way when you start packing, you can check that right off the list and know you won’t feel like Kevin’s mom in Home Alone.
Did you check the weather where you’re going? Is it going to be sunny and beautiful? Pack an umbrella anyway. Or a raincoat. Weather-specific equipment is always a good thing to have on hand. You may trust the weather person to know what they’re talking about, but weather is unpredictable. It can change in an instant.
Umbrellas come in compact sizes for travel and certain brands make raincoats foldable. These items are something you may not use but if the weather happens to turn ugly you’ll be glad you brought it along.
If you use a camera to take photos rather than your smartphone, it’s important to bring a few extra memory cards. Especially if you’re someone who takes A LOT of photos. This is another small item easy to forget. Toss a couple of extra ones in a small cloth bag and tuck them inside a shoe or in an interior pocket.
Medications are important and most people make sure they bring them. They might use one of those daily pill dividers or bring the whole bottle. But because people focus on their prescribed medication, they forget about others.
Tylenol, Advil, Aleve, Excedrin; all are vital medicines to have on hand. If you have a sensitive stomach, you should also pack Tums or Lactase pills. You never know when a headache will strike or when a twisted ankle will happen. Best to have some common painkillers on hand alongside your regular medication.
We’re human, right? We drop things. We spill things. More so on vacation than any other time. The laundry business caught on to this malady and has thankfully provided us with travel-size stain removers. So toss one in your toiletry bag. Most are no bigger than a hand sanitizer bottle so it should fit no problem.
Copies of travel documents
With so much stuff to cram in a suitcase, it’s amazing how often people forget copies of travel documents. This includes hotel confirmations, visas (if applicable), and — in the age of COVID — vaccination cards or negative test results.
Before you walk out the door, make sure you have all the documents you need. Keep them together in a folder you can slip into your bag. Using a folder will keep them neat and clean. They won’t get ripped or crumbled lying folded at the bottom of your purse.
So how do you make sure you don’t forget anything while packing?
The best way to remember is to make sure it’s written on your list.
Take a look at your list and see if any of the above items are missing. If they are, add them. If you separate your list into categories and aren’t sure where to put certain items, add a new category and call it, “Don’t Forget.”
The reason these are the most common items you might forget to pack is that you forget to write them down. And since most of these items probably won’t go in your suitcase, it’s super important to highlight their importance.
One trick to try is after you’ve packed your suitcase, highlight or circle any item that isn’t checked or crossed off. These are the items you want to focus on the night before or on the morning of departure.
Use a bright-colored marker. Use stickers. Draw attention to those items in whatever way you can think of. Write each one on a post-it note if you have to and stick it to the door.
As I mentioned earlier, are most of these essential items replaceable? Yes. Can you find them at local supermarkets? Yes. But why waste money when you can just make sure you packed it.
These most commonly forgotten things to pack may not be essential to all. Include the items you know are essential to you and your family.
That’s why having a section on your list called “Don’t Forget” is a great way to ensure you have everything you need. So the next time you plan on getting away, make sure the above-mentioned items are written on your list.
Wake up a few minutes early on the day of departure. Triple-check your “Don’t Forget” section. Focus on it. Don’t rush through this step!
People are more excited than ever to travel this summer. If you’re in this boat and are looking for some new travel essentials, check out our Shop. We share a bunch of our favorite products for traveling and more.