The 10 Most Forgotten Items to Pack When Leaving on a Trip

The 10 Most Forgotten Items to Pack When Leaving on a Trip
Photo by Anete Lūsiņa

So you've booked your flights, mapped out your itinerary, and meticulously chosen the perfect outfits for your trip. But before you soar into the friendly skies, take a moment to double-check your luggage. Travelers, even seasoned ones, can forget essential items in the whirlwind of pre-trip preparation.

I have personally forgotten to pack underwear and even bring my travel adapters on some trips because I was rushing to pack.

Here are 10 oft-forgotten essentials to ensure a smooth journey:

Universal Adapter

Photo by Claudio Schwarz

Avoid the frustration of a dead phone in a foreign country. Pack a universal adapter so you can stay connected and capture those travel memories, whether you're documenting your adventures on social media or simply keeping in touch with loved ones back home. This is my essential travel tool.

Eye Mask and Earplugs

"Poesy in a ninja sleep mask 1, the flat, Hackney, London, UK" by gruntzooki is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Block out distractions and catch some shut-eye on long flights with a comfortable eye mask and a good pair of earplugs. Aim for a plush eye mask that gently molds to your face and earplugs with a noise reduction rating (NRR) to truly silence the ambient airplane hum. Nothing disrupts your sleep more than random lights coming on in the airplane to wake you up.

Reusable Water Bottle

Photo by Brooks Rice

Stay hydrated throughout your trip and reduce plastic waste by bringing a reusable water bottle. You can refill it after security checks at most airports, saving you money and helping the environment. I have gotten a collapsible water bottle recently, and it has truly been the best for packing small into a suitcase.

Empty, Refillable Containers


Pack small, empty containers for toiletries to save space and comply with carry-on liquid restrictions. Decanting your favorite shampoo, conditioner, and lotions into travel-sized containers keeps your routine consistent while adhering to TSA regulations. Even if you have half filled larger bottles, security still might take them away from you, so keep a set of properly sized bottles to save the day.

Hand Sanitizer/Wipes

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya

Airplanes and airports are germ hotspots. Pack a travel-sized hand sanitizer to keep your hands clean and healthy, especially important during cold and flu season or if you'll be touching frequently used surfaces like tray tables and elevator buttons. I usually keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer plus some wipes for use in all occasions.

Entertainment Options

Photo by Francois Hoang

Download movies, shows, or audiobooks to your device in case of in-flight entertainment disruptions or limited internet access. A long flight can feel even longer without something to keep you occupied. Consider downloading content beforehand to avoid data roaming charges if internet access is spotty or expensive. I always load up my iPad with a few movies as an emergency backup.

Change of Clothes and Medication in Your Carry-On

Photo by Christina Victoria Craft

In case of checked baggage delays, pack a fresh change of clothes and any essential medications in your carry-on for peace of mind. This way, you'll have a fresh outfit and won't have to worry about missing important medication if your checked luggage takes a detour. Whenever I check a bag, I make sure that everything essential, including medications, is in my carry on. It's never a guarantee your luggage will make it to your destination at the same time you do.

Comfortable Walking Shoes

Photo by Super Straho

Exploring a new city often involves a lot of walking. Pack a comfortable pair of shoes that will support you throughout your adventures. Whether you're navigating cobblestone streets in Europe or pounding the pavement in a bustling metropolis, comfortable shoes are key to maximizing your sightseeing and avoiding blisters. I like shows that have laces, so I can adjust tightness. And I like to prefer a shoe with a thicker sole for the long days walking.

Plug-in Power Bank

Photo by Kamil S

Ensure your devices stay charged throughout your travels with a portable power bank. A fully charged power bank can be a lifesaver if you find yourself on a long journey with limited access to outlets, allowing you to capture photos, use GPS navigation, or stay connected with loved ones without worrying about a dead battery. I travel with at least a small power pack for my phone, and I'll usually carry a larger capacity one on trips I know I will be away from power for longer.

Downloadable Travel Documents

Photo by Brett Jordan

Having digital copies of your passport, itinerary, and important documents on your phone or tablet can be a lifesaver in case of lost or stolen physical copies. While it's important to always carry the originals, having digital backups ensures you have access to this critical information even if the worst happens. I like to have physical copies of any visas or important documents for the trip, along with digital copies saved locally on my phone plus saved to the cloud somewhere, that way I know if anything happens I have some way of getting my important documents.

Final Thoughts

These are just some of the essential travel tips that I've come up with over my years of traveling. While my process might not be perfect, I try to be as well-prepared as I can be. It is inevitable you will forget something, we all have, but it's important to adapt and have a backup plan or know where to acquire what you need. I may or may not have a drawer full of spare travel adapters after forgetting mine constantly.

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