If you’ve ever left something behind on vacation, then you probably know how Jerry Rothstein feels.
He’s forgotten his shoes (in Caracas, Venezuela), a sportcoat (in Inverness, Scotland), toiletries (in Hong Kong), and, “most serious of all, my passport in the room safe at the Mandarin Hyde Park,” says Rothstein, a retired equity research analyst.
Fortunately, he recovered all of the items. “With the passport, I remembered it while I was still in London. I called the hotel and they had it waiting for me when I came back on my way to Heathrow,” he says.
A survey by the research firm Kelton Global showed that 29% of Americans are more likely to accidentally leave a belonging behind in a hotel room than take a hotel item. Among the most left-behind items: clothing, toiletries and electronics.
The most commonly left-behind items
1. Clothing (42%)
2. Toiletries (42%)
3. Electronic devices/chargers (40%)
4. Jewelry, including watches (15%)
5. Underwear (13%)
6. Hair styling tools (13%)
Note: multiple responses were allowed in Kelton’s poll.
Tips from travel pros
A few pre-departure tips will ensure you leave with everything you brought. They include understanding what you could leave behind perhaps one or two airtight strategies for remembering not to forget them.
1. Don’t hide items during short hotel stays
Graham Denio, the director of loss prevention and guest services at Atlanta’s Westin Peachtree Plaza says forgetful guests should forget about trying to hide items.
“Items tucked away are the ones that we frequently find,” he says. “Leave them out and visible on counters during short stays.”
2. Don’t stash all your valuables in one spot
Travelers have developed all kinds of strategies for avoiding loss. Ross Symonds is a standout. He has dyspraxia, a coordination disorder that makes him prone to leaving things behind. “One of the side effects is I am disorganized and lose things,” he says. Symonds, who publishes a travel blog called Ross the Explorer, always double-checks his room before checking out.
“I look for my passport, headphones, laptop, walking sandals, trekking coat and any other items I deem valuable,” he says.
But because he’s lost so many items, he also has a backup plan. “I store backup cash in another pocket, or part of my backpack, and I split my bank cards into different places,” he says. That way, if he misplaces his wallet, he won’t be out of luck.
Always double-check to make sure you have your passport, phone, chargers, computer and wallet.
3. Embrace brightly-colored baggage
Colors matter, too, as Rita Coomler, a retired nurse from Tucson, Ariz., discovered. She recently returned from a trip to New Zealand, but when she unpacked her luggage, she found a dark purple luggage cube with her clothes was absent. She’d left it in her room at the Barclay Suites in Auckland. Coomler contacted the property, which eventually mailed her the cube.
“My recommendation?” she says. “Cubes are excellent for the organization of, clothes, toiletries, and shoes. But choose a very bright color that stands out such as lime green, vibrant red, or bright orange.”
When it comes to packing or luggage cubes, the more obnoxious the color, the less likely you are to overlook it when gathering up your belongings.
4. Remember the three B’s: bed, bath, balcony
Patricia Hajifotiou is an expert on losing things on the road. While she rarely leaves things behind, she has dealt with many customers who abandoned their belongings in hotel rooms, terminals and taxis.
“You don’t have to leave anything behind,” she says. Her strategy is simple. Before checking out, check the three ‘B’s or spots where travelers are most likely to leave items: the bed, bath and balcony.
The bathroom is one of the three hotel room Bs where you’re most likely to leave items. So check behind shower curtains for toiletries and behind doors for clothes you may have hung up and forgotten about.
“Look at and under your bed and check under the sheets,” says Hajifotiou, who runs a tour company in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. “In the bathroom, check behind the curtain to see if you left your shampoo or your shaving device. And on the balcony, make sure you didn’t hang anything out to dry.”
Listen to your inner voice
Like Hajifotiou’s customers, I’ve left so many things behind that I’ve lost count. Chargers, iPads, phones, ski pants, socks, toothpaste, underwear – you name it, I’ve forgotten it.
My best advice: Listen to the inner voice. You know, the one that says, “Did you forget something in your room?” If you hear it, chances are the answer is “yes.”