The phone rang, waking me from a deep sleep. My college-aged daughter called from the emergency room three hours away. As I rushed to dress, I threw some items into a carry-on bag, just in case I had to stay overnight. I’m so glad I did. It was four days until I was back home. Since then, I have kept a small suitcase packed and ready for many reasons.
This year I was reminded again why it’s essential to keep your suitcase packed. A trip to the Emergency Room led to my emergency surgery and week-long stay in the hospital. Because my carry-on bag is always packed, I had everything needed for my stay.
Having a carry-on bag already always packed makes good sense. Here’s why:
Emergencies – Emergencies can occur at any given moment — family illness, death, or an unexpected hospital stay. Having my suitcase packed saves me the time, hassle, and stress of trying to figure out what I need to take. It ensures I won’t spend days without something I need because I didn’t have time to pack.
We read all the time about the need to have an emergency preparedness kit. My suitcase already contains most of the personal essentials needed in case of an emergency. If my house caught on fire or if there were some natural disaster, I could grab my suitcase and have a portion of what I need. This wasn’t my reason for keeping a suitcase packed but it is an extra benefit of having one ready.
It Saves Time – It’s a pain to have to pack and unpack. Even with my packing list, packing still seems to take too much time. And I am always worried I will forget something. By having most of my things already packed, I can just grab the few remaining items I need and go.
Travel More Often – Because it takes less time to get ready for a trip, I can take advantage of last-minute weekend getaways. Now that we are empty nesters, my husband and I are traveling more. Not having to pack each time makes these trips easier and more enjoyable.
Added Assurance – With aging parents in two different states and adult children living in other parts of the country, I want to be ready if they need me. Having my suitcase already packed gives me the assurance that I can do that.
What I Keep Packed in My Suitcase
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I always keep enough packed in my bag for a
Cosmetics & Toiletries –
- Travel-size bottles of all my skincare and haircare products
- Makeup – foundation, blush, eye shadows, eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss
Underwear & socks.
Pajamas, Light-weight robe, & Slippers.
One pair of exercise pants & t-shirt.
A small notebook and pen.
What’s Not in My Suitcase
These are the items I add to my carry-on bag before each trip:
Vitamins & Medicines – I don’t pack my vitamins or medications ahead of time. Since I have these already sorted into daily dose containers, I can add the container to my suitcase before traveling.
Clothes – I don’t pre-pack any other clothes than the ones listed above. They wrinkle when left in the suitcase too long. Besides, different trips require different clothing. It doesn’t take a lot of time prior to each trip to choose my outfits and add them to the suitcase.
Miscellaneous items I need for a trip – These items change depending on the kind of trip I am taking.
I’ve tried many bags over the years, and my favorite is the Travel Pro MaxLite 21″ carry-on bag. I can pack everything I need for a four-day trip. I like that it even has a place for my laptop and writing supplies. It’s lightweight, and I can lift it easily, even when fully packed.
When I return home from a trip, I check the travel bottles and refill them as needed. I wash the clothes that stay packed and return them to my bag. I double-check to ensure everything is in my suitcase and ready for my next adventure.
For more travel tips check out the Must-Have Travel Prep Guide for a Perfect Vacation.
Amber Dunn says
Love this idea! Be ready for anything and make quick trips less stressful. I went with my mother once when my younger brother in college went to the hospital. I convinced her to pack just in case (which took way longer than it should have). She definitely didn’t want to take the time but was glad we did because we were there a couple of nights.
T.M. Brown says
It’s such a great idea to keep a suitcase packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. It’s true – we never know when we are going to be called away. Of course, being ready to travel on a whim and just because is an added plus, as well. Thanks for laying out your thoughts and ideas. Huge help.
haha sounds a little like my Adventure go bag!
Pauline Reynolds says
What a great idea. We have bags like this packed to. It makes life easier for an emergency or a last minute trip.
Angela Greven says
I love this idea! You never know when something may pop up and especially in an emergency type situation! Thank so much for sharing 🙂
Kathryn at QuestFor47 says
I love that! It’s so helpful, especially for seasoned travelers. And even those who aren’t seasoned, it’s great to know in the back of your mind that you have something in case of emergency!
I think this is a great idea and would be so helpful!
We don’t travel very often, but I do keep a list of what I need to pack when I do go out of town. It keeps me from forgetting important items!!
Jennifer Morrison says
For years 16 years when I traveled for work, as well as taking multiple vacations a year, I always had a small table set in my room with my suitcase on it. I had a complete travel kit and would often do my laundry and repack. It was so convenient.
Eileen Thorsen says
I can’t believe how smart this is, and that I have never thought of it before! Just a few weeks ago, our one daughter had surgery, but we were told she would be coming home after waking up. Of course that did not happen, and I stayed at the hospital with her for a day and a half. Having a bag like this ready to go would be so much easier instead of trying to explain to my husband where everything I need is located! Love this so much! I know what I am doing tomorrow, that’s for sure!
Great idea, especially if you have family that is far away
Michele Vadnais says
Great ideas! I’m not that organized I’m afraid!
Great suggestions! I’m going to implement this immediately.
Excellent idea, I love the thought of pre=packing certain things.
Jessica Dana says
Love this for emergencies! We have 72 he kits for a similar reason!
Leigh Ann says
Super helpful. I love the idea that it makes you more likely to travel.
I love this idea! We travel a few times a year so why unpack just to pack again?I’m going to give this a try!
Tricia Snow says
I used to do this because we were always traveling to horse shows. It kept me from over packing! I need to get back to that!
This is so smart… Now I feel like a sucker for packing and unpacking things that really don’t need to ever leave the suitcase.
Susan Franklin says
I love this idea. I’m generally not that forward thinking, but it makes so much sense – especially for emergencies. If you are panic about an emergency situation, your probably aren’t going to pack very well and miss bringing items that you would want. My hubby and I are also empty nesters and like to take weekend trips – having a bag ready to go would make the spontaneous trips really easy. I’m going to have to checkout the luggage you recommended!
Brilliant idea! You never know when you need to take off in an emergency, and then it helps lessen the stress of packing every! Thanks for the tips.
I wish I travelled more – this might make it just a bit easier!
Ramae Hamrin says
I’m going to do this. I really am. It’s such a great idea! Wish my college-aged daughters were only 3 hours away!
This is a good idea! I have been doing more traveling lately, and packing is always the worst part. Having a suitcase ready to go is key!
This is really great! I love to be prepared also for the tips beforehand, It truly saves so much time!
Great idea! I have a 72hr bag packed for like evacuating my house but this is another great idea to be prepared.