A Practical Overnight Kit For Nurses

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

This past winter, I had to stay over a couple of days at work. Once I stayed with a friend, once in a room at the hospital. It got me thinking: What would be in a practical bug-out bag for the average nurse? Not what you might think…

The Obvious Stuff:

  • A pair of scrubs, extra socks and underwear, perhaps a second pair of shoes if that’s how you roll, pajamas or at least a T-shirt and shorts.
  • Basic hygiene supplies, because who wants to smell like hospital?
  • Basic makeup if you wear it, contact lens solution, glasses, medications, tampons and pads if you need them (it’s a good idea to have ’em anyhow, for other people).
  • Enough cash for a cheap meal or two.

That’s what you ought to have with you when the weather gets bad or you foresee staying somewhere away from home and having to work the next day. But what about those little things that make your home-away-from-home better?

The Not-So-Obvious Stuff:

  • Earplugs. Good Lord, earplugs. Even if you can’t fall asleep with them in—or think you can’t—they’ll make lying in bed much more quiet.
  • Sleeping pills if you use them, Benadryl if you don’t.
  • Some people would suggest that you carry a small flask of your favorite booze. (I am not, officially, one of those people.)
  • Snack foods. Decent snack foods, like those little tuna-salad kits with the crackers, or shelf-stable meals that only need hot water to become edible. Room service is expensive and you can’t live on granola bars and free coffee from the waiting room.
  • A good book, preferably one you have read before and find comforting. I like cozy mysteries with lots of tea and trains in them.
  • A reliable phone charger. It’s amazing how few usable chargers you can actually find in a crisis.
  • Teabags, froofy instant coffee packets or a can of whatever soda gets you going in the morning. You need to be self-sufficient on the caffeine front.
  • Your go-to comfort item. If you crave Snickers under stress, plop a candy bar into your bag. Likewise, if you have a pair of socks that always keep your feet warm, stick ’em in there.
  • Some sort of over-the-counter painkiller. Headaches suck.
  • Last, but not least, consider doubling your supply of earplugs, Benadryl, food and caffeine. If your hospital is like ours, they’ll put you in with a roommate in times of crisis. It’s a nice gesture to have enough stuff for somebody who may not have thought ahead.

What would be in your overnight bag? Let us know in the comments!

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.


  1. A 80 watt power converter with 2 usb ports and 1electric outlet,that plugs into a car lighter.
    these things can be used with the converter
    a 2 or 3 foot extension cord.
    Battery charger/rechargeable batteries
    a rechargeable/portable jumpstarter.with usb ports and electric outlet.

  2. Spray shampoo, a comb and a brush. A fleece throw and a pillow. A book lamp so I can read in the dark. Beef jerky and trail mix. Benadryl, of course to help me go to sleep, ear plugs to keep me asleep. My mom taught me to prepare for road trips, “just in case.” So I would have a little sewing kit, nail care items, money for food, snack items to munch on, charging equipment for my phone and iPad, clean clothes, toiletries, any medications needed for two or three days (just in case),my glucometer and Fingerstick testing supplies. My iPad has a Bible app and devotions so I don’t need too much additional weight. Instant coffee, cocoa and tea are good. Pouches of tuna are good. I like the tuna with Jalapeño peppers in it.Chocolate is always good! When in doubt, don’t leave it out!

  3. And heat. Some non-CO creating heat source, eg thick candles with matches. Hand warmers, a Lot of them. Denver ‘84 blizzard taught me about getting stuck & needing alt heat source til help could be sent. I wasn’t stuck, it was a coworker, but still a good lesson.
    I also alwas carry toe nail clippers. They can cut both nail types, help w splinters, pry out things like staples.

  4. Come on nurses!!! Don’t forget a couple days of any medications, especially prescriptions! Because unless you’re laying almost dead on their floor you won’t get anything from your employer!

  5. At my nursing home I am known for being the “go to” guy. In Florida it is the hurricane season we worry about. I keep AA & AAA batteries, multiple small flashlights, and a bag full of chargers and android cables. (Sorry Apple people!) I also carry a Noco jump starter as it doubles as a huge usb power source. Add in the stuff listed above and I’d say you are pretty well set.

    As I drive a large SUV, when the time comes, I also carry a chain saw, multiple ratchet straps and tow straps, and a portable tool kit. I love 3 miles from my facility…my boss was worried about me getting to work until she saw the inside of my truck!

  6. All good suggestions, but please put an extra blanket or two in your car if you drive to work or to and from hospitals, etc. Along with the blankets, you really need to have extra of the things listed above in your car along with an emergency flare. Some years ago, in northern Ohio, a nurse that I knew slide of the road into a snow drift and wasn’t found for a couple days. Unfortunately, because she wasn’t “going far from her home” she wasn’t adequately prepared and the outcome was fatal. Be safe and prepared, you are all special, needed, and to precious to lose .

  7. I also take my pocket-sized copy of The New Testament. I find that reading The energizing and soothing words equips me to be positive and help others enjoy the event! Otherwise it becomes a pity and grievance party.

  8. I would take a picture of my children and a portable flashlight of some kind. I have a small led light for reading. That way I don’t wear out my cell phone battery trying to read myself to sleep. Also, a warm travel blanket or throw that keeps you cozy.

  9. In addiction to ear plugs I require an eye face mask to block out the light. A winter ear band or head band or 2 pulled down over eyes, keeps light out & helps hold ear plugs in place.Magnesium citrate works wonders for sleep,200-600 mg depending on how many hours I have to snooze. Warm loose sleeping socks help also.Water bottle keeps you hydrated cuz Ohio winter air is dry. Organic coconut oil as a whole body moisturizer is especially soothing; helps relax me as I do a foot rub with added bonus of aroma therapy(tropical island scent). By morning skin softer & smell dissipated. Small 2”bottle of organic apple cider vinegar to be sprayed onto itchy scalp, cleans & perks hair right up(I have very long hair). ACV doubles as skin toner in am after face washed & b4 moisturizer applied.A drop of Honey is lip moisturizer. Purell,Kleenex & Baby wipes can be useful. Plastic daily newspaper bags serve well as dirty clothes carriers& take up no space in your” Prn Night Backpack” Be good to yourself so u will be better for your patients!
    Sweet dreams.

  10. Yummmy chocolate, snacks and fresh veggies. Dryer sheets and my own pillow and kitten slippers. Natch clean uniform and undies . My kindle is the best…TOOTHPASTE and i say that loud since I am a snob about dental care and my fav toothpaste, LOL

  11. A flashlight if your telephone does not have one – so you won’t disturb the person you are sharing room with, by turning on the overhead light.

  12. Even though I live I Texas; around the end of November/beginning of December I keep my “Bad Weather” in my car. Yes, we get bad weather..mostly ICE. I keep 2 panties, 2 pair of socks, extra bra, bathrobe,slippers, pajamas, extra uniform, toiletries, melatonin ( I don’t like the dry mouth feeling from Benadryl); and a pillow (who likes plastic covered pillows?). Also, I take and wash the clothing weekly; and put a fresh wrinkled up dryer sheet in the bag.
    I work Long Term Care; and, we “get stuck” at work from bad weather/Stay Off The Road warnings at least 3 times a winter.

  13. A small pillow and lap blanket. A water bottle that does not sweat. I was trapped once a few years ago for three days. But was perfectly prepared. I was comfy but tired.

  14. When I worked dialysis a couple of occasions where snow was so bad they had us get to town and sleep at the hospital so we were available. I always stuck in a small pillow and blanket, some times those are the “leprechauns with pots of gold” items at the hospital. I put some of the instant drink things too (like the flavor packets, or tea mixes). You can make that free glass of ice water taste like you still had some of your home drinks, and saves you money as pop from the machine is expensive! Dry shampoo and body wipes too!


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