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Ten Essential Things People Always Forget to Pack

It's a question we've all asked ourselves on holiday: 'How could I have forgotten to pack that?' Here's a handy checklist of often AWOL items.
29 Jan, 2024
Ten essential things people always forget to pack
Ten essential things people always forget to pack

There are generally two types of travellers in this world.

The first are those who start packing two or three weeks ahead of their trip, adding and removing items, and carefully crafting the contents of their suitcase. The second are those who drag out a suitcase the night before (or day of!) their flight, and cram in their clothes with barely a moment’s thought.

It may seem obvious to you that one type of traveller is more likely to forget items than the other. But the reality is mistakes happen in both cases. Most people arrive at their destination, unpack, and realise they’ve forgotten at least one important piece of kit.

Save yourself from that sinking feeling by reviewing this list of essential things people always forget to pack — before you leave the house. That way, you can breathe easy and get your holiday off to a smooth start.

Ten essential things people always forget to pack
Ten essential things people always forget to pack: Phone charger

1. Phone charger…

This is first on the list for a reason — because it’s SO easy to forget! You will want to charge your phone before your trip, and chances are you’ll leave the charging cord plugged into the power socket and walk out of the house without it. Leave yourself a reminder note just in case.

2. …and laptop charger

Phone chargers are usually available (at an exorbitant rate) from airport tech shops, but have you ever tried to buy a replacement laptop charger? It’s ridiculously expensive to do, and that’s IF you can find the right connector. Circumvent this potential nightmare scenario by keeping a back-up cord in your suitcase permanently. In fact, keep a spare set in there of every charger you’ll need, including for your phone, wireless speakers and camera.

Ten essential things people always forget to pack
Ten essential things people always forget to pack: Laptop charger

Oh, and when checking out of your hotel, make sure you haven’t left any of your precious chargers behind. Most hotels could start a side business selling secondhand cords!

3. Laptop

Forgetting a laptop charger is annoying; forgetting to bring the actual laptop itself is soul destroying — especially if you’re a digital nomad and rely on your trusty computer to produce amazing content. Store your laptop in a dedicated spot in your carry-on bag and double check that it’s in there before you leave home. Pack an external hard drive for backing up videos and photos (easily forgotten!), and check that all the programmes and apps you’ll need are loaded onto your laptop in advance. If you plan to host live streams while travelling, it’s worth having the best screen recorder for Mac computers installed and ready to roll. That way, you can share the recordings afterwards.

4. Luggage tags and locks

You’re unlikely to forget your actual luggage, but it could easily slip your mind to mark it as yours — or secure it against tampering. Good quality luggage tags are absolutely essential, so that the airline can easily contact you in the event that things go amiss on the carousel. Record your international roaming contact number or the phone number of your hotel on the tag. Don’t include personal information like your home address.

Ten essential things people always forget to pack
Ten essential things people always forget to pack: Bag tags

While we’re on the subject of luggage itself, remember to also pack a TSA-approved lock. Secure your bags before checking them in.

5. First-aid kit

A first-aid kit is a must-have while travelling, but few of us remember to pack one. It doesn’t have to be bulky and can be personalised to your type of holiday and circumstances. The kit should have minor wound care, bandages, antiseptic cream etc. Be sure to include a packet of painkillers, gastrointestinal tablets, and a cold and flu treatment.

6. Prescription medication

Speaking of medication, this is a big one. Remember to pack prescription medication for your trip (with a few days of extra cover, just in case of travel delays). You’d be surprised at how easy this is to forget — particularly as prescription drugs are usually stored securely out of sight (and therefore out of mind!).

Ten essential things people always forget to pack
Ten essential things people always forget to pack: Prescription medication

Always take a copy of your doctor’s written prescription with you, and ensure you know the generic name of the medication (which will help if for some reason you need to get a replacement course). It’s also a good idea to pack essential medication in your carry-on luggage. If your main suitcase goes missing, you’ll still have your treatment with you.

7. Glasses and contact lenses

Nothing will cast a shadow over your holiday, literally, like not being able to see or read clearly. Organise an extra set of prescription glasses, sunglasses, or contact lenses prior to your trip and tuck them away in your suitcase just in case. Trying to find an eye specialist and get new glasses while travelling will be time-consuming and costly.

8. Umbrella and raincoat

You’re more likely to find yourself singing in the rain while on holiday if you remember to pack an umbrella and raincoat. There’s no need to pack your cumbersome day-to-day umbrella. Find a lightweight travel option (they generally fold down to a very small size). Likewise, a lightweight, waterproof jacket with a hood is a must-have. Again, consider leaving both in your suitcase year-round.

Ten essential things people always forget to pack
Ten essential things people always forget to pack: Rain jacket and umbrella

9. Swimsuit and travel towel

Perhaps you don’t anticipate needing a swimsuit for your bird watching trip in the Scottish Highlands, but you never know. Pack one anyway. Your hotel may have a pool or spa, and you can enjoy a warm soak after a hard day’s hiking in the hills. If you’re really adventurous, you may find yourself enjoying a dip in a frosty loch with your newfound twitcher friends! In that case, a drip dry travel towel is going to come in mighty handy!

10. Laundry bag and liquid

So, you have your bag of nicely folded clean clothes packed and ready to go. Now visualise your bag in a few days’ time with your now-dirty-clothes mixed in with your no-longer-nicely-folded items because you forgot to bring a laundry bag. Pack a lightweight travel laundry bag (not a plastic bag; it needs to be breathable to allow the clothes to air), along with a small bottle of laundry liquid. That way, you can handwash underwear as you go and keep everything in your bag in order.

This post was published thanks to Movavi.

Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of essential things people always forget to pack? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Additional images: Bigstock

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of Top Oz Tours & Travel Ideas, and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger, and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.





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  1. The attention to detail and practicality of this list are truly commendable. It’s evident that the authors understand the nuances of travel and have left no stone unturned in their quest to help fellow adventurers. The suggestions span a wide range of necessities. Thank you.

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