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What to pack in your bag when going to hospital

Tips for packing if you're getting ready for a hospital stay

A young man packs his suitcase
A young man packs his suitcase

Did you know, in 2018 the average stay in hospital for an nib member was 5.1 nights? So if you’re heading to hospital, it’s important to plan ahead and pack wisely.

And, not only should you focus on the ‘essentials’ – wallet, undies, sneaky stash of trashy magazines – but, there are a few items that can make a big difference to your comfort levels.

So, we’ve put together your go-to hospital packing list.

An infographic explaining what to pack when going to the hospital, including clothes, paperwork, charger, toiletries, ear plugs, snacks and headphones

The basics

  • Your pre-surgery instructions - Your specialist will often give you some instructions before your admission to help you prepare for surgery. For example, you may have to fast or stay away from certain foods. Make sure you follow these to a tee – if you don’t, there’s a risk your surgery will have to be postponed.

  • Medicare card – You’ll be asked for this when you’re first admitted to hospital.

  • Paperwork that could be relevant to your treatment – This could include x-rays, blood tests, scans and allergy information.

  • Prescription medications – Make sure you’ve had your scripts filled before you head into hospital and make a note of the dosage/time of day you need to take each one.

  • Pyjamas – Skip the lacy silks and button-up onesies and opt for a pair of PJs that are easy to get on and off. It’s a good idea to bring along a dressing gown and slippers too.

  • Warm clothes – Hospitals can get chilly, so add in a cosy jumper or two. Zip-ups are a good option, because they’re easy to pop over your hospital gown or pyjamas.

  • Jocks – Don’t forget to pack some underwear for your hospital visit. We recommend opting for comfort over aesthetic for this particular trip away.

  • Toiletries – Grab your toothbrush, toothpaste, cleanser, moisturiser, deodorant, body wash, razor, hairbrush and anything else you use as part of your daily routine. Remember that hospital air conditioners can be really drying, so lip balm and hand lotion won’t go astray. Extra tip? Store your toiletries in a waterproof bag to keep them dry.

  • Plastic bags – A few cheap plastic bags won’t take up much room in your luggage and they’ll come in handy for storing dirty laundry.

  • Technology and chargers – Take your smartphone and a laptop to help keep you in touch with the outside world during your stay. Don’t forget the chargers!

The little luxuries

  • Sleeping mask and ear plugs – Not used to sleeping in strange beds? A sleeping mask and a pair of ear plugs could help you get some shut-eye.

  • A playlist or podcast – Depending on how long you’re in hospital for, you might need some boredom busters. Have a few playlists or podcasts handy that you can listen to when visiting hours are over.

  • Headphones – How else are you going to listen to your playlist?

  • Snacks – Packing some delicious snacks to treat yourself with while you’re in hospital is a great idea - so long as your doctor gives you the green light! Aim for healthy options like cashews or sultanas.

  • Coins – If you run out of snacks, it’s important to have some coins for an emergency dash to the vending machine, café or canteen.

  • Breath mints – Some medication can leave your breath a bit stale, so having some breath mints or gum nearby can help you feel fresh.

If you're an nib member heading to hospital soon, make sure you check out our Going to Hospital page. This tool gives you information on health insurance, tips on how to reduce any out-of-pocket expenses and helpful questions to ask your specialist. To find out the details of your current policy, chat to someone about your upcoming hospital visit or get some guidance, call us on 13 16 42.