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At some point it’s bound to happen:

As you are rushing around to check out of your hotel room, you leave your iPod behind.  Or, while you’re reaching into your briefcase, it tips over and you don’t notice that you cell phone has spilled out.  Or, you reach for your credit card and can’t find it, then realize you left it at the restaurant the night before.  Or, when you get home, you reach for your camera to download those photos, and can’t find in anywhere.

Ever happen to you?  If so, you know the feeling of sheer panic that runs through you as you try to backtrack your movements to figure out where to start looking for your gadgets.  Did you leave something in your hotel room?  Did it get left behind on the plane or in a cab?  Is there just so much stuff that you can’t keep track of it all?

Here are some ideas to help curb your forgetfulness, or to retrieve your items if you must track something down.

In a hotel:

  • Find a spot in your hotel room to place your keys, room key card, and other small items that you’ll need to take with you when you leave the room.  I always seem to misplace my hotel key card and am frantically searching for it.  My technique — request two.  I put one in my wallet in my purse, so I always have a back up.
  • Pack up your things the night before your departure.  You’ll be less rushed, and in the morning you’ll have fewer items to remember to gather up.
  • Leave your electronic items in the same place, every time.  I use my cell phone as an alarm, and I always put it in the same place.  It’s become a habit, and I don’t forget it.
  • Pack sticky notes and leave them on the door of your hotel room as a reminder.
  • Do one last check before walking out the door.  Open drawers, closets, look in the safe, and check in the bathroom

On the plane:

  • Don’t put anything in the seat pocket in front of you.  It’s just gross in there, it can interfere with the smooth operation of your tray table, and you’re all too likely to forget it there.
  • Put your bags as close to your seat as possible.  Do not put bags into the first spot you come to (this is wrong for lots of other reasons, too), but use the space above your seat if there is room.  If not, then look for something nearby.
  • If you are wearing a coat and wish to take it off, fold it neatly and place it on top of your carry on.  Keeping everything together means one less place you’ll have to look.
  • Keep small bags beneath the seat in front of you.  Small bags often get pushed to the back of the bin, where they can’t easily be seen, and are often left behind.
  • If you’re traveling with precious items, keep them close to you — on your person or beneath the seat in front of you.

Credit Cards:

  • Keep them in the same place in your wallet or purse ALL the time.  That way a quick glance will reassure you that you have them, and you don’t have to go searching through everything looking for it.  Sales clerks usually hand you back your credit card with your receipt, and that’s a typical time to misplace your card by stuffing it away with the receipt.
  • If you’re really forgetful, consider a service like the Card Beeper, a sheath to protect your credit card.  When you remove the card from the sheath, it emits a beeping sound at 20-second intervals, until you return it to its proper place.


  • Limit your travel electronics to what you need for the trip.  Packing less means remembering less.  As someone who travels with lots of gadgets, I know how impossible this is, which leads me to the next point. . . .
  • Pack your gear in the same way, and only remove it when you need to use it.  My laptop and bag of cords are always packed in the same place in my carry on.  So is my camera, my Flip video, and all the rest.  I take things out when I need them, then put them back when finished.  This way things are strewn around begging to be left behind.
  • Label everything.  Just using a name won’t help.  Use an address or phone number (business numbers are recommended over home) so that anyone finding your gadgets will have a way to contact you and return the item.
  • Consider a lost and found service where you can register all your electronic gadgets.  You get a label with an identification number to go on each of your devices, and if the item is found, the finder calls a  phone number and the convenient return process begins.

One final tip:  Remember the Golden Rule.  If you find a lost item, do your part to return it to its owner.  Ignoring it, misappropriating it, or just assuming someone else will take care of it, will all lead to very bad karma.

Do you forget things when you travel?  How do you make sure you don’t?

Photo credit:  Courtesy of Shutterstock