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)

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This article was published by SmarterTravel under the title Do This and You'll Never Forget Anything in Your Hotel Room Again.  Follow Christine Sarkis on Google+ or email her at

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