Let’s face it: staying in the hospital is never a fun experience. You’re sick, in need of medical treatment, and on your own in unfamiliar surroundings. Especially if you’re stuck in bed for several days, you might feel sad, stressed, lonely and bored.
Luckily, there are a few things you can bring to make yourself more comfortable. Here’s a checklist of what to pack in your hospital bag for an overnight stay.
9 Essential Items to Pack in Your Hospital Bag
1. Personal documentation. When you’re admitted to the hospital for a planned stay, make sure you carry all necessary documents with you: your ID, health insurance card and medical records. Write down the names and contact information of your general practitioner and medical specialists to make consults easier.
2. Medication. If you have to take prescribed medications or over-the-counter drugs to manage your condition, always consult your treating physician first, to prevent possible drug interactions or unwanted side-effects.
3. Toiletry bag. Hospitals often provide 3-in-1 shampoo, conditioner and body wash, but bringing your own travel-sized toiletries is not only practical, but probably helps you feel better about yourself too. Here are some essentials to pack:
- Toothbrush and tooth paste. Because of hospital germs, you might want to consider an (eco-friendly) disposable toothbrush.
- Soap, body wash and deodorant. The basics for making you feel fresh and clean!
- Hair products. Depending on what you use at home, take shampoo, a comb or brush, hair bands and hair spray with you.
- Grooming products. If you’re staying more than one night, you could use a razor, electric shaver and shaving cream.
- Drugstore supplies. Probably not the first thing you think of, but you may need to pack things like sanitary pads or tampons, nursing pads, or diapers and pacifiers for kids.
4. Pajamas and (an extra set of) underwear. During your hospital stay, you might feel like changing into fresh clothes more often than usual. Also consider swapping your usual sleepwear for button-down (flannel) pajamas. That way the medical staff has easy access to your chest or abdomen for treatment of checkups, while you keep warm.
5. Warm and comfortable clothing. It depends on the season and where you live in the world, but hospitals are usually pretty chilly to ward off bacteria and other germs. Stay warm by covering up with several layers – a robe, blanket, pashmina or cute sweater. Wearing comfy socks also helps to make you feel more relaxed.
6. Flip-flops. They’re easy to slip into, sanitary and can be worn under the shower. If you don’t have any flip-flops lying around, you could also bring slippers or socks with slip-proof soles to keep your feet clean. Just take them off when lying in bed for hygienic reasons.
7. Chargers. Don’t forget to pack the chargers of your mobile phone and other electronic devices you might be bringing. An extension cord also comes in handy when you’re stuck in bed without a power outlet nearby.
8. Cash. You might want to carry a small amount of cash in case you need it for the cafeteria, vending machine or hospital shop.
9. Easy-to-put-on clothes for when you’re discharged.
8 More Helpful Items for a Comfortable Hospital Stay
10. Ear plugs and/or eye mask. Are your sensitive to sound or light? Bring ear plugs or an eye mask to reduce noise from your room mates or staff walking in and out of your room. In that same spirit: put in ear phones when listening to music or watching series to not cause any disturbance yourself.
11. Easy refreshing. When taking a shower isn’t an option, you can freshen up in bed with wet wipes and dry shampoo. Spraying a little of your favourite scent or a perfume sample on your wrists and clothes makes you feel better too.
12. Moisturizing products. Combat the dry hospital air with lip balm, body lotion, hand cream and/or eye drops.
13. Water bottle. It’s nice to have a refillable bottle of water by your bedside so you don’t have to get up every time or ask nursing staff for a drink.
14. Light entertainment. Although it may feel like you have all the time in the world, you’re probably too tired, distracted or in pain to work your way through a Russian classic or solve complex puzzles. Here are some easy but fun ways to keep your mind busy during your hospital stay:
- Download a feel-good movie.
- Go on an armchair journey with Eat, Pray, Love or The Life of Pi.
- Keep a journal to document your days and express your emotions.
- Lift your spirits with a collection of short stories.
- Bring an adult coloring book and crayons.
- Get a magazine, sudoku or cross word puzzle booklet.
15. Inflatable neck pillow. If you have to sleep upright, the u-shaped pillows commonly used on airplanes could help you lie down more comfortably.
16. Pen and paper. You’ll be surprised how often you’ll reach for that to jot down your thoughts or remember doctor’s orders.
17. A bag for dirty clothes. It’s practical and sanitary to keep your worn clothes separate from your clean luggage.
Which essentials do you always pack in your hospital bag? Which items makes your stay a little more comfortable?
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