Travel Tip Tuesday

Travel Tip Tuesday: The Idiot Check

Have you ever returned from a trip, or perhaps arrived at your destination, to find something important has been left behind? If you’ve ever left something at a hotel, you know how difficult recovery can be (if it’s possible at all). Some may argue this to be the cost you pay for travel, a sort of cosmic karmic bad luck which could always be far worse. I firmly disagree. Such tragedy can be avoided with a simple idiot check.

What the heck is an idiot check?

I was first introduced to the concept when I was working for¬†when we would film on location at a comic book shop in downtown Kansas City. After loading up all of the gear in my editor’s car, we would go back inside for one last look around. Deemed the “idiot check” (because, dang, I can’t believe I was such an idiot to leave that huge light just sitting there!), it offered the chance to double check for items left behind and also intone a quick goodbye to Jim, the owner of the store. The concept is simple: it’s literally just an extra look around to make sure you’re not being an idiot.

How can you best employ the idiot check?

For the greatest effectiveness, you need to clear the room you’re checking first. It doesn’t make sense to double check for having left behind stuff if your suitcase is still in the room (after all, you could leave your suitcase!). Once everything is all packed up, or at least out of your room, all it takes is one person to run back in and go over the place. Start at the point furthest from the door and sweep, checking drawers and under the bed. It’s even worthwhile to shake out the blankets on the bed- I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found socks or sweatshirts I’d forgotten I’d been wearing. Check literally everywhere.


Do you really need to check everywhere?

I don’t know about many of you, but I”m pretty spacey- especially when I’m tired. At home, I’ve found my keys in the freezer, my dog’s leash in my bathroom (at the opposite end of my apartment from the door), and various other objects in places I would swear I’d not put them. Even if you don’t think you’ve opened the dresser in your hotel room since you arrived, you never know for sure if something didn’t end up through your own action, a travel companion’s action, or even something getting knocked down. Most hotel rooms I stay in don’t take very long to inspect thoroughly, you can check every room, open every drawer, shake out the sheets, and look under the bed in just a few minutes.

Is it really worth the extra few minutes?

Yes! Just this past weekend, an idiot check saved me from leaving behind my brand new sarong (we had it hanging up over the mirror and had overlooked it). Previous idiot checks have turned up chargers plugged into the wall, shampoo left in the shower, shoes mistakenly kicked under the bed, and even a laptop stuck in a bedside drawer! I find myself in a state of relief rather than dismay at a waste of time in the event of finding nothing. So, yes, I’ll sing the praises of the idiot check all day long, it’s worth the extra few minutes. After all, if you leave something behind, it’s going to take a lot more than a few minutes to recover it.


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