A canvas bag with a red cross patch filled with soft pants, underwear, and slip-on shoes.

What Basics Are In My Hospital Bag?

When you live with chronic illness or illnesses, a possible admission to the hospital is something we expect. Those who have spent any time in the hospital. Even one night know that there are some essential things that are needed. If nothing else just some items that make you feel a little more comfortable. But for those who know to expect at least one annual hospital admission a pre-packed bag is essential.

A pre-packed hospital bag is not only crucial for the person being admitted. It is also VERY helpful for any friend or family member who might be the one who has to go through your things—trying to discern what you might want while you're admitted. No matter how close that person is to you or how great of a packer they are. The things they chose for you are probably not the things you would have chosen for yourself. Had you had the time or forethought? Thus, the pre-packed bag.

All that being said I learned the hard way about 5 years ago that a bag packed for me by someone else just wouldn’t cut it. Since then I started keeping a bag pre-packed to be safe.

So let's just jump right into what I always have in my hospital bag.

What is in my hospital bag: the basics

Let's take just a moment to talk about the bag, for someone like me who overpacks for EVERYTHING. I will likely pre-pack my hospital bag in something like a weekender bag. It gives me the size I need for all those things i “might need.” But let’s be honest, it doesn’t have to be new, or designer, or even large. If you can get your stuff in there, that is all that really matters. If you are like me and find yourself being admitted more frequently. You will quickly figure out what is a necessity and what is just taking up space.

Pajamas or comfy clothing

These are likely going to be some of the most important items in your bag. Because let's be honest, those super fashionable hospital gowns are not exactly comfy. They don’t leave much to the imagination. That being said it will depend on the floor you are admitted to as to if you are allowed to wear “street clothes.”  Many will require you to always wear a hospital gown. So keep that in mind as you are packing.

You will want to pack things that you are comfortable wearing. Generally, plan for at least a new top for every day. As well, as at least three pairs of pants for the stay. Because in most cases you can wear pants for longer since you are just laying around. Due to the fact that you never know if you will have a roommate or not. Or what their temperature preference is. You should make sure you have both long and short-sleeved options. I generally stick to leggings/yoga pants and t-shirts and tanks. Men, it's always safe to go with pajama pants, sweats, or basketball shorts, and t-shirts. Men, I would also include some kind of long-sleeved option. Just in case your roommate turns your room into the enchanted forest.

Underwear, bras, and socks

These items are essential, at least the underwear. I always pack at least seven pairs of underwear. Or boxers for you fellas. Because you just never know what may happen during your stay. As far as bras go, sorry guys but it is essential, I usually stick to sports bras. Mainly because they are safe for any imaging you may have that would require you to be metal-free. And because they are far more comfortable than regular bras. Even if you aren’t typically one to wear socks to bed or around your house. It never hurts to throw a couple of pairs in just to be safe.

Slippers or flip-flops

These are probably the most forgotten item, but trust me, coming from an RN they are ESSENTIAL! This isn’t about comfort or fashion, this is a necessity. Hospital floors are GROSS and you never want your bare feet on that hospital floor. I prefer flip-flops because I can wear them both for moving around the room. Or for those, super important walks in the halls. As well as in the shower. Think of it as the college dorm showers, you never want to go in there barefoot.

A packed hospital bag is going to look different for everyone. The things I have included in PART 1 are the bare basics. The things that I have found to be important for me just focusing on the clothing. Because let's be honest when I'm first admitted and sick. I don't really care what's in my bag as long as it's comfy. If you are wondering where the toothpaste and toothbrush and other personal care items are, they are provided by the hospital. So, stay tuned for part 2 where I will discuss the more fun things you can pack in your hospital bag.

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