The Top 12 Things People Always Forget to Pack for a Trip

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When you’re daydreaming about vacation, I can guarantee you’re imagining the world of possibilities that awaits you once your plane touches down at your destination, not all the prep required before you even board. Planning where to go, booking tickets, and creating your itinerary all require a lot of effort, but IMO, the most challenging part of prepping for a trip is packing. Regardless of how many outfits I’ve planned in my head, it’s inevitable that the night before a trip, my room looks like a tornado ran through it as I try to put together vacation-worthy ‘fits, even though I end up bringing the same classic pieces I wear at home anyway. And when I’m deep in the throes of this stress-packing chaos, I always—without fail—forget to pack something.

No matter how organized I try to be, something always slips my mind, and it’s often one of a handful of repeat offenders. To help remedy this forgetfulness, we compiled a list of commonly forgotten items to ensure your next vacay includes no panicked last-minute store runs to replace something. Keep scrolling for the top 12 things people always forget to pack for vacation.

1. Toiletries

I can’t count how many times I’ve checked into my hotel after a long travel day, opened my suitcase to grab my face cleanser to wash away the plane germs, and been hit with the realization that my toiletries are still comfortably sitting in my bathroom drawers at home. Toiletries are particularly painful to forget because if you’re anything like me, you have what some might call an excessive skincare routine, and running to the nearest Sephora to replace all your items is simply not in the trip budget. To avoid having to scrape by on complimentary hotel toiletries, always double-check your suitcase to make sure your toiletry bag and makeup bag are safely tucked away and ready to be used.

CALPAK

7 colors available

Amazon

10+ colors available

Urban Outfitters

6 colors available

2. Hand Sanitizer

Maybe I’m a germaphobe, but hand sanitizer is an absolute travel essential for me, especially if I’m traveling to a city where I’ll be taking a lot of public transportation. If your vacation is centered around lots of sightseeing, you’ll most likely be zigzagging around the city, popping into tourist stops and pausing for lunch or on-the-go snacks in between everything you want to see. You might not have access to a bathroom to wash your hands before eating, and hand sanitizer gets the job done. Plus, touching your eyes or mouth with dirty hands can get you sick, which is the last thing you need when you’re enjoying your PTO.

Touchland

10+ colors available

3. Charging Accessories

In our digitally connected world, it’s nearly impossible to travel with a dead phone, yet chargers and charging accessories are still so easy to forget. I blame the fact that every one of my Apple tech products somehow has a different charging port. Always ensure you have not only your regular chargers but also a portable power bank and wall adapters if you’re visiting a different country.

Amazon

3 colors available

Amazon

4 colors available

things people forget to pack
Source: Dupe Photos | Cora Pursley

4. Sunglasses

Somehow, no matter how many times I chastise myself for forgetting sunglasses again, I still never remember to bring them. This has resulted in many last-minute purchases of cheap plastic sunglasses that get the job done while I’m traveling and then never see the light of day again. Even if you’re not going to a tropical beach destination, sunglasses are still a must-have for bright days and as a chic accessory for your outfits.

Madewell

4 colors available

Ray-Ban

2 colors available

Free People

3 colors available

Anthropologie

2 colors available

5. Health and Wellness Items

When you’re stressed about just making it on the plane successfully, it’s unlikely you’re thinking about the extra products you use in your daily life to make you feel great. However, I’m a firm believer that traveling doesn’t mean you have to compromise on your health and wellness routine. If you take any medication or supplements daily, get a cute travel pill case to bring the amount you need. Personally, I’m a huge essential oil girly, so I always make sure to pack a roll-on oil in my bag to whip out whenever I need a moment of Zen. Another health-adjacent item you never know when you might need is bandages, especially blister patches. Even the best walking shoes can have a bad day, so these will come to the rescue for the rest of your trip.

Amazon

10+ colors available

6. Camera

I know most of us literally walk around with a camera attached to our hip 24/7 via our phones, but sometimes, especially when exploring a new place, you want to whip out a camera that takes your photos to the next level. I love bringing a digital camera and a disposable film camera on vacation to capture everything I see in different ways. And if something happens to your phone, you don’t want to miss out on those precious memories if you don’t have another camera.

Fujifilm

5 colors available

7. Cash

Now that paying is as easy as a tap or swipe, I never have cash on me anymore, but I make it a point to grab some anytime I go on a vacation. You should be able to use your card without any issues when traveling to most places, but it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand. You never know when you’ll encounter someplace that won’t take credit or run into obstacles with your bank when using your card in a different city.

things people forget to pack
Source: Dupe Photos | Cora Pursley

8. Blanket or Scarf

I’m not sure who decided the appropriate temperature for a plane is sub-zero, but I’d like to chat with them. Even in pants and a sweatshirt, I’m always woken up by how freezing I am (if I manage to fall asleep at all). I love to bring a small blanket or a blanket scarf to keep warm on these arctic flights, and it’s nice to have if your hotel room or Airbnb is chilly as well. If you’re taking a road trip, it’s the perfect item to get comfy in your seat so the time passes quickly.

Quince

8 colors available

Amazon

6 colors available

9. Umbrella

When imagining a spring or summer getaway, we never want to think it will rain, but it’s always better to have a plan in case it does. You don’t want to be confined to your hotel room to avoid the rain or get soaked trying to buy one at the closest store. It’s not exactly the ideal travel accessory, but armed with an umbrella, you can still explore the city without getting wet.

Amazon

10+ colors available

10. Earbuds or Headphones

Earbuds or headphones are key for entertainment on the plane and are a must-have on your trip. Whether you want to listen to an audiobook while lounging by the pool or romanticize some solo sightseeing with a specific soundtrack, headphones allow you to bring whatever vibe you want to your trip without forcing others to listen. They’re also fantastic for taking a moment to yourself on a group trip when you need a little me time.

11. Travel journal

I love chronicling my travel escapades in a journal, and it’s so fun to go back and read the entries, reliving the entire trip in detail. However, this is one of those items that you always want to bring but often forget about in the whirlwind that is getting ready for a vacation. When I actually remember to bring a travel journal, I find it makes me much more present during the trip, and I remember far more small details than when I’m not journaling.

Amazon

2 colors available

12. Books or a Kindle

Vacations are the perfect time to catch up on your TBR list, but there’s a reason airports have so many overpriced bookstores: Reading material is one of the biggest things people forget to pack. Make a point to pack a book you haven’t had the time to read from home, stop at your local library to grab something new, or use Libby to download a library book on your Kindle. Remembering ahead of time saves you money, and you can find a book you’re actually excited to read versus compromising based on the limited selection at the airport.

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