What to pack for hospital?

6 minute read time.
What to pack for hospital?

Electronic devices, water bottle, lip balm, reading materials... Just some of the items that might appear on helpful forum replies when someone asks, 'What should I put in my hospital bag?'

Lots of people find it can help to feel prepared when you're going for tests or going through cancer treatment. You might be planning your own hospital stay or helping a loved one with an appointment

What would you put on your packing list if you were to share it today? It could be what to put in your bag when you go for chemotherapy treatment or what clothing to take into hospital when you have surgery.

In this Community News Blog, we're sharing top tips from across the Community and inviting you to share your own. 

What should I take to hospital?

Your healthcare team will usually provide you with some information ahead of your appointment about what you will need to bring with you when you're going into hospital or day clinic. You can also usually find information on your hospital website with packing tips and lists of items not to take into the wards.

If you're looking for more information or reassurance on what to take along, the Community can help.

If you have your own ideas, you could add to these conversations. You could even start your own 'what to take' thread if you don't already have one, like members have kindly done in the womb cancer forum.

Womb cancer forum - what to take when you're going for a hysterectomy?

"For those of you who’ve already had a hysterectomy, what are the things that you’re especially glad you took? Let’s have suggestions here for what to pack so that newbies coming to the group can get some ideas. For me, these were the most important things:

- my own pillow (I don’t think I’d have slept at all without it)

- snacks (fruit gums to ease post-op throat, mints, savoury snacks, cake/cereal bars)

- iPad and extra long charging lead

- my favourite fruit squash "

"Ear plugs, eye mask and Vaseline for dry lips"

"Nighties rather than pyjamas, toiletries- mini hand gel, pads, wipes for hands and face to freshen up. Comfy clothes to go home in, nothing tight around tummy, pads and comfy knickers, slip on shoes- so you don't have to bend down to put them on, phone numbers for next of kin etc written on paper"  

Community members, womb cancer forum (click on this link to go to the conversation and add your own ideas)

Prostate cancer forum - what to wear after surgery

"I am due to have keyhole surgery to remove the prostrate. None of the information i have read advises what to wear after the surgery when i am discharged from hospital after the surgery. or how to prepare/dress my self when someone drives me home"

"I had my op 4 weeks ago. For me, day of op and for a few hours next day I was in a hospital gown. Then I was told to get up and get dressed. That was a bit difficult but achievable. I put on a track suit, pants, hospital stockings and hospital slippers. Was worried  about how I would get from the ward to the waiting car. Hadn't occurred to me that the hospital would arrange a porter to take me in a wheelchair. Wore a dressing gown as well on the way home." Community members, prostate cancer forum

Breast cancer forum - what to pack for a mastectomy with DIEP reconstruction?

"I’m booked in for a mastectomy of my right breast with a DIEP flap reconstruction at the same time in a couple of weeks. In a bid to take my mind off it I’m going shopping! So I wondered if anyone would be able to give me any advice about what to expect that maybe you weren’t expecting or what to pack, take with me into hospital that saved you or that you wish you had taken?"

"I had mine 3 weeks ago. I bought an M&S post surgery bra but I was supplied with one by the hospital and woke up in it so I have used that much more. I bought a pair of stretchy, comfy, front fastening pyjamas from next, a size bigger than you are, big comfy knickers, I wasn’t told to buy support ones, although I may invest in some in a week or so, I got proper big cotton ones designed for comfort!!  the hospital supplied a girdle thing for me to wear. The first three days I was kept in a hospital gown, clean ones provided daily. Slippers, dressing gown, lip salve, hand cream, body moisturiser, phone charger, with a longer lead if you have one, a couple of magazines, a book, my phone. That was honestly all I used. If you think you might watch films, etc an iPad and earphones. A body wash. They provided flannel things and towels. Good luck xx" Community members, breast cancer forum


Bowel cancer forum - preparation for surgery

"I'm thinking I'll be in 3-7 days so I'll need toiletries obviously but I wonder about things like wet wipes and stuff- maybe some dry snacks like breadsticks etc? Thanks so much if anyone does have any tips!"

"I would add a long phone charger for phone or iPad-sockets are often difficult to get to, and lip lip balm for the dry atmosphere. I also took in hand cream, and yes to wet wipes. A nice body spray made me feel good. I have been in for surgery 3 times in the last 4 years and tended to overpack the first time and there is not a lot of space in hospital lockers! I took a small soft blanket, which was nice for round my shoulders at night. It wasn’t always boiling hot in there." Community members, bowel cancer forum

Head and neck cancer forum - what to take to chemotherapy or radiation appointments?

"I start chemo/ radiation tomorrow and I'm looking for some tips. Are loose pants a good idea? Things like that, that will my my day easier."

"...take a book, ipad, headphones etc to keep yourself busy. Take water & snacks - there were sandwiches, Quavers, jelly, yoghurts available from a trolley as well as tea, coffee & hot chocolate.  Wear comfy clothes. As the weeks went by I put an eye mask on & napped." Community members, head and neck cancer forum

 Cervical cancer forum - what to take to chemotherapy or radiation appointments?

"Due to start radio and chemo next Monday...I was thinking of packing a little wheeled case with bits in, like snacks, water, blanket, iPad, headphones etc. Any tips or hints on what to pack?"

"I took a rucksack with me to chemo sessions and took snacks, boiled sweets,  iPad (remember your charger) fruit, a book, puzzle books. My hospital gave me jugs of water throughout the day, there was a tea/coffee trolley which did regular rounds and I was provided with lunch-soup, sandwich and yogurt typically." Community members, cervical cancer forum


Links to further information

The following links might also be helpful.

What's on your packing list? Share your top tips with the Community today. We love to see helpful threads like these across the Online Community.

Need information? Ask your question in a forum today. 

If you have found this blog useful, or have any feedback, please do use the comments section below.

  • The hospital I have been in several times as an inpatient has wards that are all single rooms with en-suites! Great, BUT they all have TVs on the wall.....but the remotes go walkabout. SO, when I've known I'm going to be staying in, I take a spare TV remote from home. Luckily, our TV is the same make, so the remote will work. There is nothing worse than being stuck in a single room, with no-one to talk to, and a TV that you can't operate!

  • When my cancer experience began, l got fed up very quickly when every nurse, doctor etc. called me by my full first name, which I HATE. So I got a T shirt printed with 'please call me Kate' on the front. It raised a laugh, and it worked!

  • Thanks for commenting on the blog  I would never have thought of those ideas! 

    I hope you have saved another member from being without a TV remote and that's such a great way to get staff to call you by your preferred name.

  • Hi, I always carry a rucksack wherever i go as my times in hospital are not usually planned. I have my spare phone charger, clothes, toiletries, documents and 2 books as i don't care for TV. I love nuts or mixed fruit and nut and keep a few packets in the bag as well, though they occasionally get eaten beforehand. I also take sweets to give to fellow patients in the hope we can get along and support each other while in hospital

  • Some more great tips here, thanks to  

    It's very kind of you to take sweets with the aim of supporting others.