Living with Chronic Pain

Packing Tips for a Hospital Stay


Hospital stays can be stressful, both mentally and physically. Thoughtful preparation for a planned hospital stay or even a potential emergency stay not only helps ease the transition from home to a medical facility, but it also helps to ensure that an individual’s time in the hospital is as peaceful as possible. Forgetting essential items, especially in an emergency situation, is common. Decisions on what type of non-essential items to take can be made on an individual basis, depending on the individual’s preferences. The hospital may provide some non-necessities, but it is a good idea to bring them just in case. The following is a guide of essential and non-essential items that can help make a hospital stay as comfortable as possible.


Generally, the following items are the most important things an individual should take with them to the hospital. It may even be a good idea to pack a “go-bag” containing these items so it is readily available in case of an emergency.

  • Important documents, such as a written power of attorney or living will
  • Identification
  • Insurance cards
  • Provincial and territorial health cards (Canada)
  • List of medications
  • Telephone numbers of family and friends
  • Cash (not a substantial amount, as it has the potential to be lost or stolen)
  • Eyeglasses (if needed)
  • Cell phone and phone charger
  • Personal mobility aids, such as canes, walkers, wheelchairs, etc.

Toiletries and personal care items

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hairbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Menstrual hygiene products
  • Soap, shampoo, conditioner
  • Lip balm
  • Lotion
  • Earplugs
  • Extra pillow or neck support pillow (for long emergency room waits or uncomfortable procedures)


  • Headphones
  • Books, e-reader, tablet, etc.
  • Laptop and charger
  • Gaming system (keep in mind that these can also be targets of theft)
  • Playing cards
  • Snacks
  • Hobby supplies, e.g., knitting yarn and needles, crocheting hooks, etc
  • Puzzle books, coloring books and crayons, or sketchbooks


  • Pajamas
  • Robe (especially for shared rooms)
  • Eye mask
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Slippers

Service dog items

  • Dog food
  • Collapsible bowls
  • Treats
  • Poop bags
  • Vest
  • Dog blanket or bed
  • One or two dog toys
  • Leash
  • Collapsible crate
  • Any medications or supplements

It should be noted that depending on the specific hospital or reason for admission, certain items may not be allowed. For instance, a psychiatric floor or hospital typically does not allow belts or sharp objects, and electronic equipment may not be allowed in some general hospitals. Certain items might be kept in a locker for the duration of the individual’s stay or sent home with a friend or family member.

Additional source: Verywell Health

Did you find this helpful?
You may also like