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packing suitcase travel frustratedAs frequent travelers, we at IndependentTraveler.com like to think of ourselves as expert packers … but even experts make mistakes. As our special Packing Week continues, we’re taking a look at all those important little things that somehow didn’t make it into our bags.

My own personal bugaboo is sleepwear. I’ve accidentally left my pajama pants at home on a couple of trips, and discovered that sleeping in jeans is just not fun. But I’ve learned my lesson; these days, pajamas are the first thing I check off on my packing list.

Of course, I’m not alone in my forgetfulness. Below are stories from six other IndependentTraveler.com staffers who left home without some vital item — or, in one case, whose luggage left without her! Read, laugh and share your own packing story in the comments.

“As a bald male, I’m generally very conscious to always pack a hat in the winter. But upon arriving in Chicago, in March, I realized I forgot my hat. No problem, I thought. There must be hats aplenty in Chicago. So I walked across the street to the Oak Brook Mall (oddly enough an outdoor mall in Chicago). There were no hats to be found. Store after store, nothing. Finally, I went into Neiman Marcus. I did not want to go in here as I strongly debated if there were any level of frigidity that would cause me to spend what they might charge for a hat. Sadly, I did in fact find a hat, succumbed and bought it. The hat was an enormous furry thing, and I looked like I belonged to the Royal Order of Water Buffaloes (remember the ‘Flintstones’?). My wallet was lighter (read: empty), my pride was hurt, but boy, was I toasty!” — Matt Leonard, Director – Traffic

The Ultimate Guide to Travel Packing

“I once forgot my toothbrush for a week of camping (ugh). On a different trip, I forgot my shoes — tennis shoes with a suit, anyone? And I once forgot my ID. The only thing I had with my picture on it was a credit/debit card (Bank of America — they take your picture). We went round and round and the TSA finally just let me go through! My mom overnighted my ID to me for the return.” — Jim Walsh, Sales Manager

“I’ve been on several cruises where I didn’t bother to pack a sweatshirt and was freezing. On one, I broke down and bought a sweatshirt in Cozumel. On another, I spent a sea day huddling under the covers because my bed was so comfy and there wasn’t much to do.” — Erica Silverstein, Features Editor for CruiseCritic.com

“I forgot the all-important undergarment: underwear! I ran to Walmart (only store open at 11 p.m.) and was the proud new owner of Fruit of the Loom briefs in fruit-stripe colors. Not my usual style, but it was the only thing packaged in plastic wrap that hadn’t been fiddled with and looked safe for immediate use.” — Kim Gray, Director – Sales

“Back when I was younger I went to the beach with my girlfriends for the weekend. We took two cars because some of us worked later that Friday. Since we arrived late, my friend and I went straight to a local bar to do some dancing with our other friends who were already there. We all had a great time but my friend with whom I drove left early, assumingly to go back to the house. When we arrived back to the house, her car was nowhere to be found and there was no answer on her cell phone. She finally did call us the next morning. She went home — two hours away — with all my luggage still in her trunk. So I got to spend the weekend at the beach with nothing but the clothes on my back . Lesson learned!! Unpack upon arrival.” — Jennifer Kuhn, Community Support

5 Common Packing Problems and How to Solve Them

“On my first river cruise, I forgot my hairbrush — and wondered how Eastern European women ever brush their hair because the stores don’t carry any. And that was when we were in ports that even had stores (many were in the countryside). So, for several days, I went from port to port looking for one (with a rat’s nest above my head, natch). Actually, I did find a makeshift brush in Croatia that was literally a wooden stick with some bristles glued onto it. I charged this one item on my credit card at the supermarket, which netted nasty looks from the cashier. It was a piece of crap. Finally, Serbia saved my butt. I bought a great hairbrush in Belgrade that I still use.” — Melissa Paloti, Director – Product Development

What’s the worst thing you’ve forgotten to pack?

— written by Sarah Schlichter

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12 Responses to “The Worst Thing We’ve Forgotten to Pack”

  1. ACruiseGUy says:

    I was on a 4 day press tour to Venice to view a cruise ship under construction; this was my “first” trip to Europe as well.

    I forgot to bring deodorant with me.

    Do you know how hard it is to purchase this in Italy?


  2. Debra Mc says:

    I was on a 14 day business trip to Italy when I forgot to pack my undies. I found the cheapest pair in Milan: $50 (in 1980$ when most of my underwear cost $5)! I only bought one pair & rinsed one of the two pr out every night & left them to dry on the barely working room heater. They were still damp by morning, so I finished them with my hair dryer which I remembered to pack. Now my friends laugh at me because I pack enough underwear for a month when I go on a 7 day cruise!

  3. Ron Buckles says:

    November on the Salisbury Plain without a hat. (You know, Stonehenge.) It was bitter cold, so we went in to a mini-mall in Bath and found only women’s caps. So it looked funny on me, a 250# man, but my eyebrows did not freeze off.

  4. Jacquie says:

    We went to Hawaii in December one year and I forgot to bring sandals. All I had was close-toed black shoes. I endured wearing them with my shorts and t-shirt to the nearest convenience store where I was able to buy some flip flops. Now I keep a pair of resident flip flops in my suitcase just in case. They double as slippers and shower shoes too.

  5. Elinor says:

    spare diapers in my carry-on. I was stuck in some small airport at midnight with a baby and a cancelled connecting flight.

  6. JAN ANGLEMYER says:


  7. Georgia says:

    Our worst experience was when our small overnight bag didn’t make it on board our ship–no make-up, no hair brushes, no mouth care products, no aspirin, band aids, etc. It was actually quite liberating. I didn’t brush my short hair for a week, wore no make-up, and enjoyed not worrying about those things.

  8. Maria says:

    I forgot my blood pressure pills when we went on a 12 day cruise to Scandinavia. I had decided to not bring my pill bottles just put my pills in one of those pill a day dispenser. When I went to fill it I forgot to put in my blood pressure pills. Needless to say I didn’t fully enjoy this trip as I knew I was going to stroke out or have a heart attack-thankfully I didn’t. I now carry all of my pill bottles.

  9. Karen says:

    On a recent trip to Turkey I forgot the charger to my camera
    Thankfully I brought a spare camera…but the spare did not take as nice of pictures as the one I bought for this trip….and the spare did not hold a charge for the entire day…I was really upset about it and it definitely made an impact on my trip:(

  10. Masodini says:

    From time to time a forget my patience at homr, when leaving for a trip. But I always manage it to “get it send” overnight. ;-)

    Masodini Game Lodge

  11. Rita says:

    I forgot my birth control pills on a weekend trip to Florida. Fortunately, I was able to convince a pharmacist to sell me another pack.

  12. Tanya says:

    On a trip to Italy, I remembered to bring the charger for my cell phone but not the adapter piece that fits into the wall! I tried plugging it in to my laptop but the charge was very small. Luckily, my room mate let me borrow her cord.

    On that same trip, I came down with a severe cold with sore throat and laryngitis. I would have killed for some Nyquil. I was able to mime my symptoms in a local pharmacy but couldn’t read the directions on how to take the medicine. I always bring cold meds now and I make an appointment with my dr to get an antibiotic to take with me just in case. (I got this same cold on a trip to London, Paris, and Dublin. Lasted 3 weeks!)

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