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Hospital Bag Series - Part 1 - Plots, Plans and Parenthood

When packing for the hospital it is often hard to know what to take. Pack too much and you risk having to work around it during your stay. Pack too little and the inconvenience can be far greater. As a hospital stay regular, I have put together this guide that may help you make some informed choices about what to include in your bag.

Please bear in mind that these suggestions are based upon a stay in a UK hospital.

*This post contains affiliate links, please see my disclosure page for details

Part One: The Bags

You need bags. Notice the pluralisation of the word ‘bag’ here?
No, I’m not joking.

Surviving time on the ward is all about preparation, compartmentalising and having double duty items.
In short – you want your luggage to work smarter, so you don’t have to work harder at a time when your focus needs to be other places.

Your Main Bag:

The first thing you need is a good sized bag with multiple pockets/sections. We take a mid-size sports bag with multiple pockets, a toiletry bag that can hang up in the bathroom or by the bed and also a nappy bag. The sports bag we use is a very budget friendly 5 Cities Cabin Duffle Bag.

What I love about this bag is that it is really light (600gms) and compact at only 54cm x 30cm x 20cm. That being said, it has two really large side pockets that hold a lot of extras and you can also secure the zippers with small padlocks for safekeeping, always handy.

This bag comes in various colours, but we have a black one. When packed correctly, this little gem has held a weeks’ worth of clothing for a hospital stay for me and our daughter. I kid you not.

If you are looking for something cheap and easy to use then this is an ideal bag. My one regret with our bag is the lack of wheels – there are times when you are moved from room to room on the ward and at those times, wheelable luggage can be a real bonus.

The Alexander Graham Wheeled Luggage Holdall Extra Large Travel Bag – 30 Inch is slightly larger at 77cm x 37cm x 35cm but that means you can take more stuff if you need to.Having a larger bag can be an advantage, particularly if it’s going to be a longer stay. It also means that you can easily accommodate toiletry bags, shoes and other items that might otherwise be on the ‘nice to have’ list, rather than the ‘essentials’ list.




The Toiletry Bag:

When you are on the ward you’re operating in a small space, so having everything in one place makes life so much easier. A trip to the bathroom when your child is in hospital is usually a rushed experience, so having everything quickly accessible makes a huge difference.

A toiletry bag like this Hipiwe Waterproof Travel Hanging Toiletry Wash Bag one is ideal. It’s all about the compartments.

This bag is big enough to store a wealth of travel sized products, hairbrush, toothbrush, some make up (for those times you just want to feel normal again), medication and some products for your child as well. It is a ‘grab and go’ miracle and being able to hang it on a hook and off wet sinks/floors/showers is a real bonus.

I have also added a large carabiner clip through the hook section of ours. This carries the weight really well and means I’m not waiting for an ‘all too flimsy’ plastic hook to break.



The Nappy Bag:

This is the bag I use for our daughter when she has hospital stays. At seven, she is no longer a baby, but it still works.

For the most part, your child will be in either a hospital gown or pyjamas on the ward, so there are not a lot of bulky things to pack for them. I love this Incarpo Large Nappy Bag for the number of pockets it has.

You really do have to think in terms of ‘zones’ when it comes to packing, so I use the largest section to store her clothing – again rolling, folding and zip locking to save space. Another section stores her going home outfit. Shoes find a place as do any toiletries she may need that will not fit in my toiletry bag.

The fact that the bag is compact, attractive and holds a lot are all things that stand in its favour as a hospital necessity. We also take this when we have day appointments in London. Having a change of clothing or even pyjamas for comfort on the long drive home makes life easier.



Your Child’s Special Bag:

Part of getting our daughter prepared for the hospital is letting her pack a wheeled bag of her own with things she loves. Special toys, comfort items, colouring, activity items and a pillowcase of her own to go over the hospital pillow. This means she is mentally adjusted to the stay and has her favourite things to help her through. She takes pride in wheeling her bag through the hospital and it’s something just for her. She loves this My Little Pony suitcase.



Laundry Bag:

Sorry. Even in the hospital, you cannot escape laundry!
Having a separate bag for soiled or worn items is essential. You could absolutely shell out money on a laundry bag, but for the most part we use a reusable shopping bag from one of the big supermarkets (ALDI bags are enormous, last forever and stand open really well).

If you wanted something a little classier, then you can find ones like this on Amazon. Don’t forget to pack some Vanish soap or a little container of wool wash to hand wash items you might need again before you see a washing machine.

So now you have an idea of the bags we use. Exciting isn’t it?

Next we’ll move on to what to pack in them, including essential items we found that we could not do without.