We’ve all been there. Halfway to our exciting destination and the sinking feeling that you forgot something suddenly comes to an epiphany when you realize you left something super important at home. Even worse! You are in the middle of your trip, digging through your bag for something until you finally come to terms with the fact that you must have forgotten to pack it. I had that experience on my latest trip backpacking Italy and it almost cost me dearly with a constantly dead phone and no other way to take photographs to remember and share the experience.
This post is a list of the some of the things that I have personally forgotten or never even thought about packing on my trips before. While this is related mostly to my backpacking experiences, it’s definitely applicable for any trip, whether it’s around the world or just across town to grandma’s house. Hopefully my post will serve as a bit of a reminder when you pack for your next trip.
I didn’t catch onto this until I sat next to a lady on my flight to Lisbon who practically packed a picnic for the flight. While she was a bit extreme, I did feel a little jealous as I stubbornly refused to pay €10 for a little sandwich in flight. Depending on your trip, you might opt to pack more or less, but I always carry a granola bar or something similar for those long rides, midnight munchies, or times when my hostel doesn’t serve breakfast.
I’d generally recommend something sturdy, nonperishable, not messy to eat, and that makes no or clean waste (unlike an apple which leaves behind a sticky core which you might not be able to throw away immediately… unless you’re one of those people who eats the core then go right ahead). I know what I just described is usually not the most healthy thing in the world, but if you just save it for emergencies, then I’m sure you can justify the calories.
If you wear makeup then I’m sure you can relate to my struggle of trying to put my brows on with my fingertips when I forgot my eyebrow brush. It wasn’t pretty, especially since I was trying to get all dolled up for New Years in Berlin. My trick for remembering exactly which brushes to pack is to put everything aside when I do my makeup the day before I pack. That way, I won’t forget the brush that goes to each product when rifling through my stash.
I cannot tell you how many times I went to do my makeup only to realize none of the products I brought have a decent mirror. Save yourself the hassle of doing your makeup in your phone camera and remember to either double check that one of your products has one or remember to pack a stand-alone. Or better yet, just keep a cheep one stashed away in your travel bag so that it’s always there ready to go when you pack for your next trip.
I’m going to be honest. When I read through these types of lists in the past, I thought you had to be truly stupid to forget the life-blood of your trusty sidekick. A few months later, I was that idiot. Finally forgetting it myself made me realize how easy it is to forget something that’s plugged into the wall and practically furniture. My best tip, especially if you travel often (or even just for school or work) is to buy a second charger and keep it with you so that the one at home can just stay plugged into the wall.
Similarly, this last trip I managed to get all of my cables but got distracted right as I went to pull the actual adaptor out of the wall. I spent the rest of my trip trying to get a cheapy Euro Store plug to work. It was annoying at the least and near disastrous on more than a few occasions.
If you are traveling to somewhere with different plug types, then remembering your plug converter or attachments might also fit in this category. While a journey large enough to cause a change of plugs has always been big enough to automatically make me think of it, someone traveling frequently between zones could probably space out on it pretty easy. When in doubt, always check your destinations plug type because, while I’m sure you can just get one there, I learned my lesson this trip that all electronics are not created equally.
Variety of Clothes
This is my biggest tip for the whole post and one that I have to remember every trip since I tend to get light sunburns relatively easily. Bring clothes (especially shirts) of different cuts, lengths and fabrics. There is nothing worse than getting a sunburn on your shoulders and realizing that you only brought tank tops. On the opposite of the season spectrum, my biggest problem is usually finding out during a trip that all the big, chunky sweaters I packed are too tight of a fit under my coat. I thought I was packing smart but really, I had fixated on the cold and forgot that my clothes had to be functional enough to be able to sling a heavy backpack over my shoulder.
Finally, even if it’s the heat of summer, make sure to pack one pair of long pants, even if they’re super lightweight, just in case you need to cover up for a church or temple or if the weather gets cold at night or if your hostel blasts the air conditioning or your legs get sunburned, etc. On the flip side, always bring a pair of shorts or something less warm in the winter in case your room or sheets are too hot or you need something to lounge in.
Those were 6 things I have personally forgotten in the past that I wanted to remind you of next time you hit the road (or skies). What’s the worst thing you have forgotten? I think that medications would be up there but luckily I haven’t forgotten those yet. Let me know in the comments below and maybe you will save someone else the trouble by reminding them.