Do This and You’ll Never Forget Anything in Your Hotel Room Again

Use this 30-second room-scan technique to ensure you leave with everything you came with.

The phone charger behind the desk. The necklace on the bedside table. The passport in the safe. When you’re rushing to check out of a hotel, leaving an important item behind is easy to do. And all too often, once something is left behind, it’s gone for good.

Recently, after leaving behind a pair of shoes (oops) in a closet, I decided it was time for a strategy that would save me the panic of realizing I’d left something in the hotel room, the hassle of trying to track it down, and the disappointment of realizing it was gone forever.

For inspiration, I looked to my emergency search-and-rescue training. (I live in California, where emergency preparedness is a normal part of life.) When you’re searching a house for anyone who needs help after an earthquake, one strategy is to keep one hand on a wall and follow that wall around the house. That way, you don’t accidentally miss a room, a closet, or any other space where someone might be sheltering.

With this idea in mind, I came up with a 30-second scan that I now do every single time I’m checking out of a hotel room. I find a starting place, usually the front door, and I walk through the room, checking the floor, surfaces, and any closets or drawers as I pass, making sure to look under things like beds and tables.

Because I’m usually staying in a normal-sized hotel room (pity the poor fool with a suite; they would need at least half a minute for this), this process takes about 15 seconds. I’ve then got another 15 seconds to head into the bathroom and look everywhere—the counters, any drawers, the bathtub (sometimes I forget that I’ve hung laundry there to dry), and the back of the door.

In 30 seconds, I’ve just cleared the whole room and gathered any straggler items (there’s usually at least one). On my way out the door, I check the safe, just in case. As an additional reminder to check the safe, I often put a sock or scarf on the inside knob of the hotel door to remind myself to retrieve my valuables.

By making this sweep part of my standard hotel-room exit, I have reduced my items-left-behind total to zero. Do you have a trick for making sure you don’t leave items behind? Share it with other readers (and me) in the comments below.

(Photo: Hotel Room via Shutterstock)

You Might Also Like:

By Christine Sarkis

There's a 95 percent chance Senior Editor Christine Sarkis is thinking about travel right now. Follow her on Instagram @postcartography and Twitter @ChristineSarkis.

Christine Sarkis is an SATW-award-winning journalist and executive editor at SmarterTravel. Her stories have also appeared on USA Today, Conde Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, and Business Insider. Her advice has been featured in dozens of print and online publications including The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and People magazine. She has also shared travel tips on television and radio shows including Good Morning America, Marketplace, and Here & Now. Her work has been published in the anthologies Spain from a Backpack and The Best Women's Travel Writing 2008. She is currently working on a travel memoir.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: The Trtl Pillow. It's easy to pack and comfortable, and makes it so I can actually sleep on flights.

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Seeing the Aurora Borealis from the comfort of somewhere warm, like a glass igloo or hot spring.

Travel Motto: Curiosity is an amazing compass.

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: Aisle all the way.

Email Christine Sarkis at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *