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A Question Before Packing: Would You Be OK If It Went Missing?

Question before packing: Would you be ok if it went missing?

Travel goes a bit like this: You pack up and ship out, you unpack and spread your belongings across your hotel room, you repack and ship out, and the cycle continues. In the process, things sometimes just go missing.

In addition to the chaos that can be simply unpacking and repacking, airlines lose bags. Items get stolen. Nice things get worn in places that aren’t so nice and eventually become lost to wear.

In light of these travel realities, the question you should be asking before packing up anything on your list is, “Would I be okay if this went missing?”

Because it’s the truth. If you can’t fathom the idea of an item getting lost, stolen, left behind in the sand or broken in transit, then it doesn’t belong on your packing list.

Or else it could be a hard lesson to learn- one accompanied with extreme disappointment.

So what items should you avoid packing?

  • Expensive items, like jewelry and fancy shoes.
  • Sentimental items, even if they’re not of expensive value.
  • Unnecessary electronics, so if you don’t need it, don’t bring it.

Sometimes, however, it’s not easy to leave everything costly at home. For one, those expensive shoes and clothes might be technical gear that are vital to your trip. Those electronics might be necessary to do work on the road. For items like these, you might simply need to come to terms with the possibility of losing them.

In some situations, the need for precious belongings to be on the packing list is greater than the chance of them going missing.

Patiently waiting in Beijing airport at 5am for friends to arrive, and of course using the down-time to work on writing articles.
Patiently waiting in Beijing airport at 5am for friends to arrive, and of course using the down time to work on writing articles.

For example, I typically always travel with my MacBook, which is not the cheapest computer on the market. But, I do so because I usually have to keep up with work while on the road, and keeping up with said work is more valuable than the chance of losing it and needing it replaced.

That said, that doesn’t mean I don’t take the risk lightly. I’ve simply come to terms with the risk so that I understand it’s not the end of the world if it were to go missing while traveling. It’s just a laptop.

Now if that laptop were a pair of earrings that my mother gave me on my 18th birthday… well, that would probably be a different story. I would not be okay if those went missing and therefore would not be putting them on my packing list.

I know that most of this post is common sense, but a little reminder can never hurt, right?

Written by Brooke

I run the show at Her Packing List and love packing ultralight. In fact, I once traveled for 3 entire weeks with just the contents of a well-packed 12L handbag. When I'm not obsessing over luggage weight, I'm producing episodes of The UnPacking List or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

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Gear We Use


Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.

Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.

Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

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Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


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Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. Laryssa says

    I’ve often traveled with this mindset, although more often than not, I wish I had the electronics that I’m used to, even if they are more valuable and would be a large expense to lose.

    You can also take precautions like staying in hotels/hostels with lockers, bringing a lock and Pacsafe, and purchasing supplemental insurance for your electronics!

    • Brooke says

      All great ideas, Laryssa! It’s great to keep this in mind and weigh the cost/benefit of taking said items on a trip. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Theresa says

    I really like this post! I am always tempted to travel with jewelry and recently DID lose something while traveling…it was so upsetting. It wasn’t even that valuable, it was just that my mom had given it to me, and so I was really just sad about that thought. Definitely learned the hard way!

    • Brooke says

      Aw that’s terrible, Theresa! Sorry to hear. Losing sentimental items is often more stressful than costly things because you can’t simply whack another “memory” onto your credit card.

  3. Louise says

    Loved this article! I lost a necklace in Bali last year and was so annoyed with myself for bringing it in the first place!

    Will definitely be more realistic next time!

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