Traveling Soon? Don’t Miss These Commonly Forgotten Items When Packing

Whether it’s a quick weekend getaway or a lengthy vacation, the packing stage is a crucial part of the travel planning process. Despite the time spent agonizing over what to pack, it’s surprisingly easy to overlook some of the essentials, leaving you to go without or scramble to find replacements when you arrive.

Building a packing list might seem like an extra step you don’t need, but it’s your best defense against those pesky moments of forgetfulness. Make a packing list. Check it twice. And make sure you don’t forget any of these items that are far too easy to forget.

Female hands on top of the clothing in a full suitcase, surrounded by more clothing and accessories.

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Important documents

Your essential documents are some of the most important items you’ll bring on your trip. It’s important to take the extra step to double-check you have them packed…and make copies too.

Identification and travel documents

Make sure you have your passport (or other needed identification) and required travel documents such as a visa. It’s important to check on these well in advance of your trip so you know what the requirements are and how long you need to allow to obtain them.

It’s not enough to just make sure you physically have your passport in your possession. You also need to know when it expires and what the requirements are for validity beyond your departure date from your chosen destination.

I also pack color copies of these documents and keep them in a different location from the originals to help in the event of loss or theft.

I also pack:

  • Digital and printed copies of
    • hotel reservation confirmations
    • rental car rental confirmations
    • tour tickets
    • flight itinerary
    • boarding passes
  • Medical insurance card (plus a photocopy)
  • Dental insurance card (plus a photocopy)
  • Embassy and/or consulate location and contact information
  • Travel insurance confirmation information and claims contact information

TIP: Use a travel packing list spreadsheet to keep track of everything you need for your trip.

Prefer pencil and paper? Grab the printable blank packing lists.

Financial essentials

While I may not need to remind you to bring your wallet, here are a few things you might not think to remember to bring.

  • Traveling internationally? You’ll want a credit that doesn’t charge international transaction fees. 
  • Backup credit card with no international transaction fees
  • Bring a little cash just in case. It’s always useful for small transactions or if card terminals are down.
  • ATM card to get more cash if needed.

Don’t forget to notify your bank and/or credit card companies of your travels if they require it 

Various travel paraphernalia, a globe, a toy airplane, and a credit card on a wood table.

Personal items and toiletries

Before you zip up your suitcase, make sure you’ve packed those personal items and toiletries that are easy to forget but necessary for your daily routine.

Basic drugstore items like toothpaste, sunscreen, lip balm, or shampoo can easily be obtained at your destination if forgotten. Here are some commonly forgotten items that are not so easy to replace.

  • Prescription medications
  • Dental devices (such as mouthguards or retainers)
  • Contact lenses
  • Glasses
  • Specialty beauty supplies you know you can’t get at your destination if forgotten

Clothing and footwear

Unless you’re a very forgetful packer, chances are you won’t forget to pack clothes and shoes. Packing the best clothing and shoes for your trip might be a different matter. Anyone who’s forgotten their dress shoes when traveling for a formal event knows exactly what I’m talking about.

It’s crucial to check the weather forecast for your destination so you don’t forget any important clothing or gear needed for the weather or planned activities. Often, you can’t go wrong with packing layerable items that will serve you well in changing conditions. Things like:

  • T-shirts
  • Sweaters
  • Jackets (particularly a waterproof rain shell)
Woman sets a pair of red flip flops into a full packed small suitcase. Other vacation items are visible on the wood floor near the suitcase.

Specialty clothing

Have a business meeting or an adventurous excursion on your itinerary? There are a variety of special occasions or events that require specialty clothing, footwear, or even undergarments. Make sure to bring along professional clothing, evening wear, or specific gear like hiking boots or swimwear.

Tech gadgets and accessories

Packing your tech essentials is crucial to stay connected and entertained on your travels. Ensure you have all the necessary gadgets to make your journey as smooth as possible.

Your phone charger is the lifeline to your device’s battery life, so double-check that it’s packed. And I always pack an extra charger just in case I accidentally leave one charger behind at a hotel. I haven’t yet (and I don’t want to jinx it), but you never know.

I also recommend people travel with a portable charger to prevent the possibility of your phone dying while you travel.

And if you’re heading out on an international trip, make sure you know what kind of plug you’ll need so that you can buy and pack the appropriate plug adapter.

Travel comforts, conveniences, and miscellaneous items

This category is going to be different for each person. Packing effectively is about more than just clothes, shoes, and toiletries. There can be any number of other personal or miscellaneous items that you’ll want with you on your trip. These are the things that are the easiest for me to forget because they’re not necessarily items you might use every day.

  • Reusable water bottle
  • Earplugs
  • Neck pillow
  • Eye mask
  • Bed pillow
  • Sleep aids
  • Plastic storage bags in a variety of sizes
  • Laundry bag
  • Wet/dry bag (especially for beach vacations)
  • A few basic first aid items (e.g., adhesive bandages, fever reducer, etc.)
  • Snacks (especially for long travel days when getting regular meals can be challenging)

The bottom line

From electronics to toiletries and travel gear, there’s more to packing well for your trip than just making sure you have every outfit in your suitcase that you want. Often, it can be just a small easy-to-forget item that can make the difference between being comfortable on your trip or…not.