How to Pack for the Hospital

I do not claim to be an expert in too many things, but with all of the time I spend in hospitals (and the medical bills to pay for this area of distinguished education), I proclaim myself as having a Ph.D. in packing for lengthy hospital stays. If I could legitimately add this to my resume, I would.  My knowledge is too grand to not share, so alas, here we are.

Below is my list for a five-day stay at your local hospital explained in detail for you below.


  1. Hairbrush and hair elastics – Feel free to leave the elastics at home if your hair isn’t long enough 😉 After an operation, your hair looks a little worse for the wear. Being able to have a caregiver gently comb it for you is one of the first nice things you can feel and appreciate. You feel ever so slightly better when you know you do not look a total mess. By the way, the doctors and nurses have seen EVERYTHING, so be creative with those hair bands or elastics, when you are ready.
  2. Hat – Sometimes there is too much pain, fatigue, or I don’t give a damn to do my hair. Hats are fun, show off your interests or personality, and are a great conversation starter to learn more about your care team! Another plus, they keep your dome warm (I always freeze in hospitals!)
  3.  Toiletries – Some hospitals provide your basics (nice!) but there isn’t anything better than to be able to you use your preferred hygiene brands and to be surrounded by your comforting routine smells. *This is not an ad, just my personal preferences.* I start by filling my toiletry bag with a snazzy colored toothbrush and some refreshing Colgate Toothpaste. Then, I plop in my sexy deodorant; don’t judge, it smells delicious and lasts for a long time – helpful when the pain meds or anesthesia has you confused. Rather than packing my whole face routine, I pack gentle face wipes. The hospital is a pretty harsh environment, filled with germs and cool, dry air, so these are perfect for a few nights. Gentle is the key! I make sure to use a moisturizer when I can and slather on Aquaphor on my lips, hands, and feet. Well, usually someone who loves me does my feet. I always pack a nail file – nothing like a hangnail snagging in the bed sheets to really annoy you!
  4. Insulated, Reusable Water Bottle – I drink like a woman who has been stranded in the desert after surgery.  I hear water is also amazing for your body, especially after trauma. I pack a stainless steel water thermos to keep ice and water in and bring my favorite YETI Tumbler for the minute to minute drinking. I also pack a reusable stainless steel straw (I won’t be able to move my neck to drink, etc.)
  5. Important Documents – While not super comforting, I always bring a file with me and let my family hold it while I am staying at the hospital. It includes my current prescription list, my allergy list, my driver’s license, insurance card, and will. While not fun to think too much about, it is all necessary and pertinent information someone from my healthcare team may need.
  6. Comforts from Home – Now, for extreme comfort, I make sure to pack some of coziest clothes from home to keep me snug and warm. Loose fitting cotton pieces, flannels, and fleeces seem to do the trick. I pack my own feather pillow and a supportive travel pillow so I can get a few hours of pain-free, sleep in comfort. The feathers support my bionic neck in the right away and the travel pillow reminds me no whipping my hair back and forth while I sleep. I will pack a cotton robe (because sometimes I do just want to be in my gown but with a little more class) and my cozy slippers. which are more supportive than the gray hospital socks!
  7. Technology – Don’t forget your phone and charger! You can FaceTime or Skype with loved ones, play games, check the news, social media it up, and when you’re ready to text people.
  8. Entertainment – More often than often I have found sleeping, following doctor’s orders and having visitors is pretty exhausting, but I do pack one book. A piece of fiction and a killer pair of headphones so I can mentally escape the hospital!
  9. Notebook & Pen – Keep this right by your bed! Anytime you need to write something down, like a question to ask the doctor on his rounds, jot it down.
  10. Your Dignity, Flexibility, and a Sense of Humor – Healthcare professionals have seen everything – embrace it. I don’t suggest streaking but don’t worry about your body being seen.  Everything may not go as you and the doctors and nurses plan. Be open to new options and roll with the punches. Definitely, pack your sense of humor! Laugh at whatever you can. It is great medicine.

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