What to Bring to the Hospital

After my recent hospital stay, I realized how much more comfortable I was there (as comfortable as you can be in a hospital) because of what I brought with me from home. I’ve had quite a few experiences, over the years, of hospital stays, so I’ve curated a good packing list of the essentials to bring during a hospital stay! There’s a fine line between not bringing enough (and wishing you had brought more) and bringing too much (and feeling cramped in a small hospital room, plus risking losing something when you go home). In my opinion, these are the things the bring!

This list is written with an inpatient stay in mind. I’d bring some of these even to an ER, because the wait can be a few hours, but would save the full list for an inpatient stay. Obviously, this is easier to do if you know you’re going to be hospitalized ahead of time, like a planned surgery! But this is also why I bring at least half of these to the ER, too, because you just never know what will happen.

Recently, my go-to bag has been my L.L. Bean Boat and Tote – it’s sturdy, it can fit a surprising amount, and it’s so easy to throw things into when you’re in a rush. Obviously, any bag will work, but this is one I don’t mind taking with me to the hospital.


Hospitals are always so, so cold. They do have blankets, of course, but they’re always SO thin and scratchy. Bringing your own blanket is one of the absolute must-haves, in my opinion! I bring one even just to the ER – it’s worth it even for a few hours! I bring my midi sized Chappywrap, because it’s travel-sized and a little smaller, so easier to pack, but still so warm and comfy and soft!


I wouldn’t bring my own pillow just to the ER, but I would if I knew I’d be inpatient. Sleeping in the hospital is really hard. Your sense of time is really thrown off, you have people coming in and out at all hours (including the middle of the night), it can be loud, and hospital beds are just not comfortable. So bringing your own pillow makes sleeping a little bit easier, and a little bit more comfortable, and it’s totally worth it. I use a special side sleeper pillow, so I’m especially adamant about bringing mine!

Fuzzy Socks or Slippers

Like I said – hospitals are cold! Since you spend a lot of time in your bed, shoes aren’t an option, but I promise you that you’ll want something on your feet. Fuzzy socks are nice and warm, and also comfy enough to wear for many hours at a time. I think you can walk the halls in socks if you want, but if you’re not comfortable with that (or if you need a little bit more traction), I’d throw in a pair of slippers.

Comfy Clothes

Bringing comfy lounge clothes or pajamas is nice, but I wouldn’t overdo it – there’s a chance you may end up just wearing the hospital gown the whole time. If you do decide to bring your own lounge clothes or pajamas, make sure they’re nice and loose! You might have wires stuck to you, might need your blood drawn or your IV accessed, so the easier it is to reach those things, the better.

Eye Mask

Time can be strange in the hospital, and sleeping can be difficult. Sometimes a nurse will need to come into your room in the middle of the night – for medication, for bloodwork, to check your vitals – and while they try hard to be as non-disruptive as they can, sometimes they have to turn on a light. An eye mask isn’t necessary, but it is a nice extra to have to help keep your sleep as sound as possible while you’re there.


Hospitals tend to be loud. You’ve got your own devices alarming if you shift your arm the wrong way, you’ve got your neighbor’s devices alarming, you’ve got staff moving around outside and talking at all hours, and you might even have a roommate. It’s just a lot, all the time. So being able to put in your headphones and block it all out, at least for a little bit? Bliss!

Long Charging Cable

This is probably the number one most important thing to bring. The outlets in your hospital room – and even more so in the ER – could be anywhere in the room. You want to make sure you bring the longest charging cable that you have, so that you can actually use your phone in bed while keeping it charged. Depending on how well (or how sick, I guess!) you’re feeling, hospitals can get boring and monotonous. You want your phone – your connection to the outside world! – nearby.

iPad (with movies / shows downloaded)

I’m not sure if this is standard everywhere, but for the hospitals that I’ve been to, the sound for the TV actually plays through the same controller that you call the nurse from. It’s not ideal, and while it works, it can get annoying after a while! And no hospital I’ve been to yet has any of the streaming services available. So bringing an iPad, and letting you watch what you want, when you want, is just nice. I bring my iPad with me even to the ER! If you know you’ll be inpatient, I highly recommend downloading a few movies or shows ahead of time, because WiFi can be hit or miss.

Essential Toiletries (Lip Balm, Micellar Water, Moisturizer, Deodorant, Hairbrush, Dry Shampoo)

I always recommend you bring your essential toiletries, whatever that means to you. For me, it’s micellar water, a simple moisturizer, lip balm, deodorant, and maybe a hairbrush and dry shampoo. I keep it extremely simple, because I know that often, when I’m in the hospital, just washing my face is a win. If you know you’ll be having visitors, you might want to look semi-presentable, and throw on some dry shampoo, but I personally don’t get any more done up than that. If you want to, that’s great! I just recommend you don’t bring too much, because bathroom space is limited and you don’t want to lose anything. For things like a toothbrush, toothpaste, etc., I just use whatever they have there.

Books (or eBooks, or Audiobooks)

For as much as I love reading, I will admit – I have never been able to read much in the hospital. I still bring my iPad with books in case I want to read, and I do recommend bringing something to read, because you just never know, but I’ve never been able to get in the right headspace and focus long enough to read while in the hospital. It will really depend on why you’re there (and how long you’ve been there) – so it’s nice to be prepared, but don’t feel bad if reading feels too hard. Above all, remember to be gentle to yourself!

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