Pick an old backpack and load it up with some essential supplies for emergencies.  This is a general packing list that should be suitable for both medical and psychiatric admissions, as well as other kinds of unexpected overnights (from evacuations and emergency shelters to something as benign as a weekend at a festival).  My term “Bug Bag” is short for “Bug Out Bag”.

Skip folding your clothes individually.  Instead lay all shirts on top of each other, fold in the sides, and roll them up into one smooth bundle.  Insert into bag.  Do the same with pants (I prefer to fold each pair in half and then stack, then roll).

  • Clothes
    • Shirts
      • 3 comfortable shirts that are easy to wash
    • Pants
      • I prefer pajama pants*, sweat pants*, and a pair of shorts
      • Psych hospitals will want you to remove any drawstrings.
    • Socks
      • 3 pairs should be plenty
    • Underwear (including bras and beaters)
      • 3 of each should be enough
      • Many times, one bra is plenty
    • Shoes
      • Flip Flops
        • Can be used as shower shoes and as slippers
        • Some psych hospitals might prefer the slip-on style be used as “thongs” are sometimes banned for safety.
      • Slippers
      • Sneakers*
        • Psych patients, ditch the laces.
    • Robe*
      • Psych hospitals will want any ties or belts removed.
  • Toiletries
    • Dental
      • Toothbrush
      • Toothpaste
      • Floss*
      • Mouthwash*
        • Packing a non-alcoholic mouth rinse is helpful for psych patients.
    • Bathing
      • 3-in-1 shampoo, body wash, conditioner is ideal
        • Original bottle with label is important for psych admits
      • Lotion
      • A loofa* or washcloth
        • The Supracor SpaCells facial sponge and bath mitt are my favorite for both psych hospital and camping because they dry quickly, aren’t banned, and the facial sponge is really small but can do it all.
        • I’ve also successfully used a small mesh laundry bag (zippered) as a travel wash cloth for the hospital.  It dries fast and can store my soap.
    • Menstrual products*
      • Maxi pads* and light days pads*
      • Tampons*
      • Diva Cup
      • Wipes
    • Nail care
      • Paper/foam nail file
      • Nail clippers*
    • Hair
      • Small plastic comb or brush
      • Hair ties or clips*
      • Shaver* or razor*
      • Tweezers*
    • Q-tips
  • Laundry
    • Quarters for the machines
      • Get a roll of quarters from any cashier or bank
      • Anticipate it costing anywhere between $1-$2 (or more) per load
      • Remember, sink washing is a thing.  Use those quarters for the dryer.
    • Detergent
      • A small/sample bag of Tide Pods should do the trick
      • A sample bottle of Tide (typically found at Target or Dollar Tree)
      • Travel packets of Tide
    • Fabric Softener
      • Totally optional for most people
      • Dollar Tree has sample bottles, worth about 5 full loads.
    • Dryer Sheets
      • Again, optional for most people
      • Just stuff a few in a pocket of your backpack
  • Health
    • It is helpful to keep a list of your current doctors with your medication list
      • Include the doctor’s name, phone number, and fax number.
    • Keep an updated medication list in your bag
      • Include prescription and non-prescription medications
      • Include any vitamins or supplements you may use
      • Include dosage, times typically taken, and what you take it for.
    • Ideally, hospitals like patients to bring all medications in labeled bottles.
      • This isn’t always possible for patients in an emergency, don’t sweat it.
      • Try to make a habit of keeping your meds in a single location at home so that a friend or family member can potentially bring them for you.
    • Keep a list of food allergies, intolerances, and medication allergies
  • Incidentals
    • USB battery or phone charger
    • Calling card
      • Typically, psych hospitals require patients to have one to call family.
      • You can find calling cards at Walgreens
      • It’s also possible to purchase a calling “card” online and print it.
    • Contact book
      • Typically, psych hospitals do not allow patients access to their phones.
      • Keep important numbers for friends and family in a small notebook
        • The notebook needs to be plain bound
        • No spiral binding and no elastic
    • Chapstick
    • Ear plugs
    • Books
    • Food
      • small non-perishable snacks are a good idea, especially for the ER or waiting room.
    • Warmth and comfort
      • A soft sweater that mimics your favorite blanket
        • Packs easy
        • Works for hospitals that don’t allow bedding.
        • Avoid hoods and drawstrings if a psych patient
      • A favorite pillowcase
        • Packs easy
        • Most hospitals don’t mind pillow cases
      • Thermal underwear
        • You know who you are.  Pack it.

Anything starred (*) is an item that may be restricted for psych patients but are a good idea to pack for stays potentially longer than 2 weeks.

Disclaimer:
this is my blog.  I can do or say whatever the heck I want. If I want to post incomplete articles and finish them later, I’ll do just that.  Check back every now and then to see if I got around to finishing it. Comment if you want more info sooner/now/sometime this century.
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