Top 5 Items Left Behind on Vacation

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It is summer and the vacations are underway. What a welcome change from 2020. It is so great to be able to travel again. Of course, packing up is never easy. Before the vacation, we have to figure out what to take, and when the trip is over, we have to gather our belongings and avoid leaving anything behind. If you are taking a trip this year, be aware that there are some common items which people tend to leave behind in hotels, rentals, and host homes. To ensure a smooth trip, remember to check for these five items and make sure to bring them home.

5 Items to Remember When Returning From Vacation

1. Chargers

Chargers are the #1 item left behind in hotels, Airbnbs, VRBOs, and the like. These are often plugged into outlets in less-than-visible locations, and it is easy to walk out without them. When grabbing your electronic device (shaver, phone, computer), ask yourself out loud, “Have I packed the charger for this?”

2. Glasses

Whether they are sunglasses, prescription glasses, or readers, these are a common “left behind” item. Replacing them isn’t always easy, so be sure you have them. One trick is to keep the case for the glasses out in a prominent location near your suitcase or bag. This will help you remember to get the glasses that belong inside.

3. Toiletries

You may not want to bring home the half-used bottle of shampoo, but you might be sad to realize that you left a nice razor, costly cosmetic, or expensive toothbrush in the bathroom. We often keep toiletries out of our luggage until the “last minute,” and then walk out without them. When you take your final shower or bath, remove items that you wish to take home and place them on the counter. You are less likely to forget things that are in plain sight.

4. Valuables

This is surprisingly common, and most typical for valuables left in a hotel safe. We put objects like jewelry, passports, and keys inside to keep them hidden and safe, and then we end up hiding them from ourselves. If you hide items in a safe (or elsewhere), make a note for yourself and put the note somewhere that will catch your eye when packing up.

5. Clothing

This may seem unlikely, but believe it or not, we often leave clothing behind. Usually, it is the clothing that has been placed somewhere other than a dresser drawer. Top spots include the back of a door (e.g., a robe on a hook), the closet (e.g., a suit jacket hanging for last minute retrieval), and on the floor (e.g., dirty socks dropped in the corner). Before you leave a rental, check these locations to be sure you have all your clothing in your luggage.

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If you do leave something behind on a trip, your best course of action is to contact the hotel or landlord as soon as possible. If you are lucky enough to realize your mistake before leaving town, try and go back to get it. Hotels will have a “lost and found,” but you may have a hard time getting the establishment to mail something to you. Airbnb and other short-term rental suppliers are rather hit and miss. Some will go the extra mile to find and mail items to renters in the hopes of improving their rating, but many will not. There is generally no stipulation in most rental agreements requiring landlords to return forgotten items. If the item is precious and has been found, always offer to pay the shipping to increase the odds of getting it back.

One final note: when researching this post, I discovered that many people leave items behind intentionally, such as food or beverages in the refrigerator or small utensils like a corkscrew in the kitchen drawer. Periodically we will purchase something because we need it on vacation, with no desire to bring it back home. Generally speaking, if you decide to leave something behind with the intent that it can be used by someone else, it is thoughtful to attach a note to this effect. This avoids confusion and increases the odds that the items will be kept and put to good use.

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Have you ever left an item behind on vacation?

30 thoughts on “Top 5 Items Left Behind on Vacation”

  1. At least once, but the one that stands out was about 5 years ago. I bought a cap, but it was straw so a bit more girly than a baseball cap, and had a really big brim to keep the sun out of my eyes and off my face. It was always hanging on a hook in the bedroom at the cottage we rented, but I didn’t wear it home, and I forgot to pack it. I didn’t miss it soon enough to check with the owner and I’ve always regretted it.
    Janet Barclay recently posted…How important is email to your business?My Profile

    1. Yes, that is exactly the kind of thing I would forget too! I once left a necklace on a nightstand and it was one of my favorites. Still get sad when I think about it… so I try not to!

    1. I once left dresses hanging on a hook on the back of the door. Had to turn around and drive 2 hours back to get them because I needed them for a photo!

  2. Yes! Once I left the charger for my computer. I can’t even begin to tell you how much time I wasted finding a replacement charging cord – UGH. An experience I never want to have again. Now, each time I pack my computer up to take home with me, I do as you suggested, and ask myself if I have the charger. I like your idea to leave a note for the host if you intentionally leave something behind. I can see how it would be confusing to the host to find extra odds and ends.

    1. The “returning of forgotten items” can be a real hassle for hosts. Why not just make it simple, right? I’ve left chargers multiple times, and it is always a pain to get it resolved – especially for a computer!!

  3. Great reminders and important prompts to grab our things! When I went to Italy, one of the hotels still had old-fashioned keys and not key cards. To make it easy to find my room key, I attached it to my home/car keyring. And then I turned the whole thing in, hotel key, house key, and room key! (Luckily, it was a tiny hotel and my keyring had an item that made it distinctively mine, so I got it back before our tour buss left, but yikes!)

    For small things, like making a point of putting the charger/phone/keys/small fiddly things on a light-colored, folded washcloth on the bedside table. It makes it easier to spot things. (Newer hotels have USB ports in the lamps, which makes them a little less hidden than they used to be.
    Julie Bestry recently posted…Checklists, Gantt Charts, and Kanban Boards – Organize Your TasksMy Profile

    1. Oh my, I am so glad that you got it back. Once you drop your key in the return box, you can’t easily get it back! Great tip about putting small items on a light-colored washcloth. It is hard to see things on dark wood end tables and dressers.

  4. We once left behind my son’s favorite stuffed animal and thank Heavens it was still there, hopefully waiting down the side of the bed when we realized and sped back for it. Since then, this topic has been on my radar every time we travel.
    Lucy Kelly recently posted…What’s your excuse?My Profile

    1. That’s a good one, Lucy. Always check near the beds for things that have fallen down. I can feel your panic on that one. I would have been the same way!

  5. I am lucky to not have left behind many items in our many travels, but one item I left was a slipper (just one of the pair) after receiving it during Christmas from my in-laws. On our way back home we stopped at a small B&B in France and accidentally left one behind. The next day we noticed and called and the owner said yes she had found it and immediately thrown it away with no apology…so that was that…I guess she did not believe in a guest Lost & Found!

    My husband was luckier when he once left his wallet in a safe in Istanbul and we checked out and went to another part of the country. Luckily it was found and returned with all the money and cards intact.
    Jessica recently posted…Historic Route 66 Motels & Hotels: Where to Stay along Route 66My Profile

    1. I guess I’d have to say that better the wallet be found than the slipper, but that was sort of an abrupt reply from the B&B, right? You just never know. So glad your husband got his wallet – that is the worst thing to lose!

  6. I’m guilty of having left my charger. Just as you said, it was plugged in, in a not so obvious area. Out of sight out of mind.

    I especially like your tip about asking yourself out loud if you’ve packed an item. My husband even started doing that at home. When he leaves he says out loud, “Keys, phone, wallet.” There’s nothing more annoying than getting to your car and realizing that you don’t have your keys and have to go back inside to get them. Leaving behind your phone and wallet is not a happy moment either.

    One of the things that I do on a trip is to make a checklist of items not to forget.
    I’ll keep the list in my suitcase, on the nightstand or where I leave my keys. It saves me a headache.
    Ronni Eisenberg recently posted…A Simple 5-Step Plan to Organize Your Sentimental Items Quick, Easy & DoneMy Profile

    1. I often pack my “packing list” and then review it on the other end before I come home. I’ve also found that using the same luggage repeatedly helps because I put certain items in certain locations, so I am more likely to notice if something is missing.

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