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The Ultimate Last-Minute Packing List When You Need to Leave NOW

The ultimate last minute packing list when you need to leave now

You’re a morning-of packer, but overslept. An emergency alert came in and you have to evacuate your home. Your best friend stops by on her way out of town and asks you to join her on a weekend road trip.

Whatever the reason, you have to leave in five minutes and you’re not packed yet!

What do you need for your trip? Can you pack and not miss anything important? Read on for the ultimate last-minute packing list.

Your Priority: Get ID, Meds, Money, Tickets

There are a few things you can’t buy on a trip (like money!) or that would be very time-consuming and expensive to track down and/or buy. Make sure you add these to your go-bag (or your pockets or handbag).

  • Passport/Driver’s License
  • Prescription medications
  • Prescription eyewear
  • Daily medications & supplements
  • Credit card and another form of payment
  • Phone (plus charger)
  • Tickets

Bonus: Insurance card

Having proof of insurance can be important. Check if you can access your insurance card digitally. (Reading this before a trip? Make sure you set this up in advance.)

You might not have to pack it. Although, it’s helpful to have the physical copy, especially if traveling internationally, in case your phone gets damaged or you don’t have internet access.

You may be able to buy your daily non-prescription medications on the trip, but if you have a few minutes, packing enough vitamins and pain pills to last your trip can give you more time to explore.

Your Second Priority: Evaluate What You’re Wearing

Unless you’re wearing pajamas, a swimsuit, or a ball gown, you can probably use what’s already on you as part of your official travel wardrobe.

Don’t run out the door just yet! Follow the steps below to make sure your outfit is optimized for traveling with the least amount of thought possible.

Step 1: Look at what you’re wearing from top to bottom.

Step 2: Make sure comfortable shoes are on your feet. That’s the most important aspect of your footwear, but use your best judgment. If you’re heading out on an overnight where you’ll be lounging around with friends drinking wine – you can probably make do with just about any type of shoes.

Step 3: Add a layer to your outfit. A pair of leggings under a dress or a cardigan are highly valuable for just about any type of trip.

Step 4: Stick a spare pair of underwear in your pocket or handbag. If you have no real time to pack a travel wardrobe, spare underwear will give you the ability to keep up with some important hygiene in terms of clothing.

Step 5: Add a winter coat, raincoat, etc. If the weather calls for it, of course!

If There’s Still Time: Pack Toiletries and Clothing

Avoid scooping up an entire drawer and dumping it in your bag because you’re too rushed to plan out a packing list. Use this list to cover your essentials. 

ultimate last minute packing list clothes and toiletries
This is what you want to avoid!

Remember that you can always buy toiletries on the road or get them for free at your accommodation, so they aren’t as vital to pack if you’re in a rush.

You typically need fewer clothes than you think. Remember, you can always handwash clothing or even buy clothes cheaply if absolutely essential. There’s no need to pack everything just in case

This list will help you pack just what you need. When in doubt, go with the lower amount of items.



  • 1 – 7 Pairs Underwear
  • 1 – 3 Bras
  • 1 – 7 Pairs Socks
  • 1 – 3 Shirts
  • 1 – 3 Bottoms
  • Pajamas
  • Swimsuit

More Last-Minute Packing Tips

If you’ve made it this far and still have a minute to spare (and are finding yourself in a panic!), remember this:

  • When packing, the first list of tasks is the most important. Make sure you have your essentials covered and then everything else can be bought or borrowed.
  • Don’t stress too hard. You need way less than you think! Even if you feel a little off because you don’t have everything you would normally pack, commit to fully engaging with the travel experience and you and your friends will have a great time.
  • Most toiletries can usually be bought or acquired at your destination. So whether staying at a hotel or with friends, there might be some freebies on offer – and a shop is usually not far away either. Your favorite brands or products may not be available, but a trip is not forever.
  • Most clothing can be worn multiple times before washing… seriously! Did you grab some extra underwear in the midst of your last-minute packing? If so, you’re going to be fine. And let’s not forget about handwashing as an option.

 Get the Last Minute Travel Checklist

last-minute packing list when you need to leave now

And there you have it.

With this last minute packing list you’ll pack everything you need and nothing you don’t in record time.

Give up the stress, pack light, and enjoy your trip!

Download This Packing Checklist Now

Plus get access to 100+ more FREE downloadable packing lists.

Not on Your Way Out the Door? 6 Ways to Prep in Advance

Do you see the potential for spontaneous travel in your future? 

Before a last-minute trip comes up, put these tips into action. A little foresight and minimal planning can save so much stress and drama in the final minutes. And, they may make packing for your not-last-minute trips easier, too! 

1 – Gather Your Make-or-Break Items

Ask yourself what one thing would cause you to completely hate the trip, if you were without it, to the point that you’d wish you hadn’t gone. Prepare for that thing so that when you’re packing at the last minute, you grab what you need to have a good trip.

This could be a few things, not just one.

  • Is it not having your meds?
  • Is it needing feminine hygiene products and not having any?
  • Is it not having lipstick for photos?

You could make sure that a minimum amount of these items are in your daily carry, placed in a memorable location, or you can wrangle up your item(s) into a go-bag.

This bag is a cute way to have a go-bag packed with those things you don’t want to forget.

Ready in 2 minutes packing bag
Airportag Packing Bag

Again, don’t stress too much. The experience is what you’ll remember, not what color shirt you wore or if your hair had flyaways. 

2 – Keep a Small Toiletry Kit Stocked

Keep it stocked with enough product, including a toothbrush, to last a long weekend. Remember to check expiration dates and update perishable toiletries that haven’t been used in a while. This could be part of your quarterly house-cleaning routine.

3 – Keep a Packed Weekend Bag

You could also keep a weekend bag packed with clothes and toiletries. If you don’t use this bag often, be sure to check every few months that the clothes still fit you, that you still like them, and that they are suitable for the season and your lifestyle.

4 – Create a Go-Time Packing List

This list would have everything you need to pack, including which bag to use and if you’ll also need a small purse. Be specific where possible.

When we’re in a rush, it can be hard to make good decisions. Having a list that tells you which bag to pack and everything to put in it can save you from remembering the knitting but forgetting your phone charger. 

5 – Take an HPL Program

If planning like this feels overwhelming, we can help! The HPL Packing Method walks you through making your perfect packing list. It includes plenty of worksheets and guidance to help you.

A little work and investment upfront can save you time, stress, and money in the long run!

What would be the first thing you grab on your way out the door?

The ultimate last minute packing list when you need to leave now

Written by Jill

Jill Hames is a freelance writer, musician, and ESL teacher who, at the age of four, said she wanted to learn every language in the world. She hasn’t managed that yet, but is proud to have taught herself enough Swahili to understand context from native speakers. She's too busy having fun with music and language to be found online.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Denise Bleakly says

    When my late husband was battling pancreatic cancer, I had a “to go bag” ready and by the door because we made many, many trips to the cancer center and emergency rooms. My “to go bag” was for *my* comfort and needs. I included something to read (an e-reader worked well for this), a tablet computer, one of my needle work projects, a journal and pen, a scarf/wrap, food and water for me, some medications ( advil, peptobismal, imodium), two days worth of prescription medications, wipes, hand sanitizer, lotion and lip balm, a comb, toothbrush & toothpaste, a small flashlight, a change of clothes, some cash and several dollars worth of change, and a summary of my husband’s medical treatments and medications. This all fit into a small totebag/backpack, This packed “to go bag” was a lifesaver for me, and helped me help my husband through this terrible time.

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