30 Items I Pack in My Hospital Bag for a More Comfortable Stay


When you struggle with chronic illness, you may require a stay, or several stays, in a hospital. It can be very hard to be away from your family and the comforts of home.

I started a small list of items I should pack many years ago, but that list has gotten longer overtime. Below you will find my current list of recommended items to bring with you to the hospital.

Unfortunately, many hospital stays are unscheduled, urgent visits where you may not have the time to pack a bag. However, in those situations it can still be helpful to have a list available for a family member or friend to access. This way if you are admitted for a longer stay, your family member or friend can gather necessary items to help you get through your time in the hospital.

This list can also be used to give recommendations on some possible items you could include in a gift basket for someone staying in the hospital. For me, the hardest part is to be away from my family. However, I know that hospital stays are often necessary. Having some small comforts items from home can make the time in the hospital just a little easier.

1. Comfortable clothing.  Personally, I hate wearing hospital gowns. The minute I can get out of one, I will. I even have sport pants, which I can wear with a catheter if needed. They have snaps from top to bottom on the legs.

I have T-shirts with velcro sleeves that allow for easy access to IVs, monitor cords and ports. I also bring a variety of cozy jammy pants and shirts. Don’t forget undies either, because nobody wants to wear hospital underwear.

Packing socks that have slip proof bottoms is a good idea as well. I always get compliments on my slip-proof socks. They are much cuter and more comfortable then the hospital ones.

If you prefer to stay in the hospital gown, it is a good idea to bring a robe and some comfy shorts to give you a little privacy in those revealing gowns. I also make sure to always pack a hat or beanie cap.  It’s a lot easier to put my hair up in a ponytail and throw a hat on.

2. Clothes to wear home when you are discharged. This includes shoes that are easy to put on.

3.  Chapstick, natural tears eye drops and lotion. Hospitals can be very dry.

4. Hair supplies – including ponytail holders, if needed.

5. Makeup and other “female” supplies you may want. If it makes you feel a bit better to put on a little lipstick, then go for it!

6. Gum and hard candy.

7.  Shampoo, conditioner, a razor and body wash. The hospital will likely provide these items, but it can be nice to have your own products from home.

8. Vitamins and medications. The hospital will provide your medications and it is important that they’re aware of any medicine that you are taking. However, I know from experience that it can be helpful to bring some of my own medications from home. (If you do want to take medication from home, be sure to inform the hospital staff first.)

9. Toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash.

10. Flushable wet wipes, waterless shampoo and deodorant. These will keep you feeling clean when you are unable to shower.

11. Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Even though hospitals generally smell very clean, that does not mean they are. Disinfectant wipes can be very useful for wiping down any surfaces you might touch, including the bed remote, TV remote, bed rails and bathroom doorknob.

12. Flip flops for the shower.

13. Small blow dryer.

14.  Spray bottle. I use this for wetting down my hair so that I can brush it when I’m unable to get up to the sink

15. A couple large ZipLock or trash bags for dirty laundry, or for other uses.

16. Magazines and books.

17. Pens and paper.

18. Vending machine change. Having change on hand can be helpful for both yourself or if you have visitors. I have children that enjoy making a trip to the vending machine for a snack or drink.

19. Sunglasses. My eyes are very sensitive to light. The fluorescent lights in hospitals can definitely be bothersome when you are not feeling well.

20. TENS device, heating pad, and similar items.

21. Cell phone, iPad and chargers.

22. Extension cord for chargers.

23. Wallet with minimal items inside, such as your ID and health insurance card.

24. A hidden safe for valuables. I have never had any of my belongings stolen from the hospital, but I know that it happens. You can purchase safes for your valuables that look like everyday objects, such as a shampoo bottle, hairspray and books. If somebody was going through your bag quickly, looking for valuables, they would be far less likely to take every day objects. These items make good hiding spots for valuables. You can buy products such as these online, or you can make your own.

25. Thank you gifts or card for the staff. Although giving a thank you card or treats to hospital staff is by no means a requirement for good service, I do believe it is a good idea if you can.

If you know that you’re going to be going into the hospital for something scheduled, such as a surgery, and you have the opportunity to bring a thank you card or some sort of store bought treat, the hospital staff will definitely appreciate it. I do not recommend bringing any homemade treats because many times those items will be thrown away.

All patients should be treated equally regardless of whether they give the staff a thank you, but nurses and other medical staff do appreciate the acknowledgment of their hard work taking care of you. I can say this having both been a patient many times in the hospital and having worked in the hospital as well. If I can, I will bring a basket of different packaged, healthy snacks.

Keep in mind that even something as small as a thank you card will be appreciated.

26. A water bottle. This can prevent you from spilling on yourself and is much easier to deal with than the small  cups that they will give you.

27. Packaged snacks.

28. Simple and small card games.

29. Favorite blanket and/or body pillow.

30. Play-doh. I know this one’s probably going to sound a little weird and this may just be me, but I find Play-doh to be very soothing and stress relieving. Maybe it’s that smell that reminds me of my childhood, or the soft smooshy texture, but I find it to be a good stress reliever.

If you do need to stay in the hospital, I wish you a comfortable and quick stay. Hang in there.

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