I’m sure you know it all; that terrible feeling when you sit at the airport gate, suddenly a flash of stinging pain shoots through your brain and you realise, you left your hair brush next to your bed. Or your toothpaste in the bathroom. Or your phone charger attached to the plug behind your bed… Argh – again! Over the years I have developed some exit strategies for these little mistakes, like an always packed, ready to go toiletry bag holding a consortium of tiny tubs of lotion, solid shampoo bars and toothpaste tabs, but some errors I just haven’t learnt from yet. There was a time when I had a selection of 4 hair brushes from Germany, Italy, Curacao and the UK – but I’m now down to one hair brush which I stole from my mum’s house last Christmas, because the others got spread out in guest houses and hotels around the globe…

Beauty products are not the only items I keep forgetting though – and they are certainly not the most annoying things to forget either (as you can see you can get hair brushes anywhere). The following ten items commonly get lost somewhere between the brilliant idea of taking them, and the actual process of packing. Maybe writing it down will help me to remember them in the future…

iphone travel

1. A second-hand mobile phone

I love smartphones – I couldn’t travel without one for the life of me. I’m addicted to Instagram, I love reading the news catching up on Facebook on my mini laptop first thing in the morning and without Google Maps I’d be slightly screwed. But my smart phone has certain downsides… it is expensive (a great bargain for pickpockets), the battery life is ridiculous (always on flight mode to save battery for the important things – photos) and it’s massive (like, twice the size of the back pockets of my jeans). An old school mobile phone (or at least a less precious second-hand mobile phone) would be the solution to all of this. Eternal battery life for those emergency phone calls, a brick to scare the pickpockets away and small enough to fit even the front pocket of my trousers. Finding a used phone online is also a great solution if you’re one to drop your phone every five minutes or leave it in the back of a tuk tuk on a regular basis…

2. Travel adapters with USB ports

Travel adapters are potentially among the most forgotten items of any traveler. How often have I stood at the reception of a hostel or hotel to ask for an adapter, or talked some stranger into lending me their charger for a while… in the small town of  Røros, Norway I charged my new laptop in a local marketing office, because they were the only one’s with Mac chargers around. Lesson learnt: always pack a travel adapter. As many of my electronics have USB ports, I’m thinking of investing in a nifty adapter with built-in USB units. Oh, all the things I could charge while using my hair straighteners!

Underwater camera

3. Drybags

Alright, to be honest, I hardly ever forget to pack a dry bag. I like doing water sports when I travel – sea-kayaking, canoeing, hiking up a waterfall, anything connected to water really. I also like taking photos of everything I’m doing, so a dry bag is standard equipment to keep my camera safe. I still think this item should be on here, as I’m sure plenty of you sometimes wish, they had something more secure to wrap their electronics in, than a perforated plastic bag… what I haven’t come around purchasing yet, is a waterproof case for my phone to take with me when diving into a cool cave or taking cool underwater photos in the pool.

4. Cleansing wipes

Another classic. Cleansing wipes are fantastic – removing my make-up, giving my laptop a little ‘wash’, or myself (when camping) – there’s hardly any trip where I don’t need cleansing wipes. And yet, I keep forgetting them at home or run out on day 2 because I only packed the basically empty package lying around my bathroom (because I forgot to stock up AGAIN). Will I learn it one day? Maybe – at least now I always buy two packages at once, so chances are better.


5. Sleeping bag liner

I just recently bought a basic sleeping bag liner to take with me on a trekking adventure in a few weeks. I will be renting a sleeping bag from the tour operator, and for hygiene I thought it would be nice, not to actually rub my tired face into a sleeping bag that has been used by God knows how many other sweaty trekkers. Which makes me think, I should have gotten this thing years ago – before I started couch surfing… From now on the sleeping bag liner will be a steady travel companion on budget trips – or will it? I can already see myself rubbing my face in yet another stranger’s bed linen, while my new friend sits in a box at home underneath my bed…

6. Pocket knife

I’m so notoriously bad at keeping an eye on my pocket knife, that I have not only lost my own precious Swiss army knife (in Canada, maybe?), but also the mock Leatherman of a friend, who leant it to me with all the wrong faith in my responsibility to handle sharp items – and handing them back to their owner… Ever since I’m carrying a small kitchen knife, wrapped in a couple of sheets of kitchen paper towels, around with me when I go camping; which is certainly not the best solution. A promise to myself: I will purchase another pocket knife and keep it on me (or rather in my checked luggage) at all times.

7. Tweezers and nail clippers

Tweezers and nail clippers are two little helpers I would always forget. Always. And then before heading out for fancy dinner on my first night of the trip, I’d realise that I forgot to pluck my eyebrows and hadn’t taken care of my finger nails for a little bit too long after all. Beauty bummer. Now, I own two sets of both: one always in my bathroom cupboard, the other always in the packed toiletry bag I mentioned in the beginning. Problem solved.

drink water

8. Re-useable water bottle

At home I’m quite good at carrying a re-useable water bottle with me at all times. But when I travel, I seem to forget the importance of keeping hydrated – I blame it on air travel safety regulations. Then I find myself buying silly plastic bottles at the destination, longing for my loyal companion at home. I constantly travel and love being out in the wilderness making it one of the reasons why I am about to invest in sawyer mini or sawyer squeeze, as I saw it being used by a couple on my last trip and till date, it is the best water purification system I have seen.

9. A chic handbag

If there is one thing I hate about traveling, it’s packing. Still. I just can’t figure out how to pack without going slightly insane. I guess this is partly, because I do so many different things on my trips. One day I’ll hike a mountain, only to go out for fancy dinner and cocktails in town the next day. How is one supposed to pack for both without overpacking? Anyways, one item, I always forget in the rush of packing is chic handbag – hence I always end up going to a cool restaurant with a dirty tote bag or my not so fancy, and way too big day pack. My problem is potentially, that I still haven’t found the perfect cross body bag, that fits all the necessities, looks smart and doesn’t take up too much space in my suitcase. Any recommendations? Let me know in the comments!

10. Flip flops

And finally, another classic ‘forgot it’ item: flip flops (or slippers). Unless I’m off to a warm destination and I’m really well prepared, I usually end up wearing my normal shoes 24/7, because I don’t have another pair to switch to. I’ll wear my sneakers to go to the hostel’s community shower and figure out creative ways of not touching the floor between scrubbing my poor feet with soap and stuffing them back into said sneakers. It’s miserable. Next time, I’ll remember. Yeah, right.

10 travel essentials which I always forget - Flip flops

In retrospect half of this list of items I forget to pack, is rather a list of  items I bring with me and then forget to bring home again, but I think both counts. How about you – do you have certain things you always forget at home, or anything else to add to my list? Or any funny stories to tell from such travel mishaps? Let us know in the comments!


Did you enjoy this post? Never miss an awesome read, monthly give-aways and much more by joining our newsletter!

This is a post by Kathi Kamleitner.

Kathi Kamleitner was a regular contributor at Travelettes from 2013 to 2019. Originally from Vienna, Austria, she packed her backpack to travel the world and lived in Denmark, Iceland and Berlin, before settling in Glasgow, Scotland. Kathi is always preparing her next trip – documenting her every step with her camera, pen and phone.

In 2016, Kathi founded Scotland travel blog WatchMeSee.com to share her love for her new home, hiking in the Scottish Highlands, island hopping and vegan food. Follow her adventures on Instagram @watchmesee!