Fast Exit

December 5, 2023 Dec 05, 2023 3 min read

Checklist: What to Bring With You to an Emergency Shelter

The following checklist is designed to help you prepare for moving into an emergency shelter as a survivor of intimate partner abuse. Keep in mind that every shelter has different policies about what you can and cannot bring, and may also be able to provide certain items once you arrive. This list is a general overview of the types of items you may want to bring.

Your wallet

Make sure your wallet contains some cash (if possible), credit or debit cards not connected to any accounts shared with your abuser, identification, health insurance cards, and any other essential cards you may need.

Personal documents

This could include your birth certificate, social security card, financial records, legal records, employment or tax information, permits, vehicle registration and insurance information, medical records, and more. To help yourself stay organized, consider filing all of your important paperwork into a folder or binder before you leave.

Your phone

Although most shelters have phones and/or computers available for use by residents, it’s important to travel with your own phone if possible. Before leaving, ensure that your phone’s location services are turned off and that you are not currently sharing your location with anyone. Depending on the confidentiality policies at the shelter where you stay, access to your phone may be limited or regulated.

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A book and/or journal

Although it’s not entirely necessary, bringing a book you enjoy or a journal for logging your feelings and experiences is a good idea. This way, you will have something to do as you navigate a confusing and scary time.

A few changes of clothes

Because you’ll be packing light, you won’t want to bring too much clothing. However, it’s important to bring a few spare items if you can. When packing, prioritize comfortable and functional clothing over anything fancy or uncomfortable. If you’re traveling with children, be sure to bring changes of clothing for them as well.

A few small keepsake items

This could include cards or letters, photos, jewelry, or any other meaningful item that will help you feel calm, connected, and grounded.

Medication and prescriptions

If traveling with children or pets, be sure to pack all necessary medications and prescriptions for yourself and everyone you’re traveling with.

Necessary medical assistance devices

This can include prescription glasses and contacts, inhalers, CPAP machines, breast pumps, crutches, or any other medical device you or your children may need.

Evidence of abuse

If you’re building a case against the person who has abused you, it’s critical to bring all evidence you’ve gathered with you. This can involve photos, copies of police reports, relevant journal entries, etc.

Children’s items (if traveling with children)

If traveling to the shelter with children in tow, it’s important to pack for them as well. Be sure to bring necessary items like wipes, diapers, clothing, pacifiers, medication, etc. You may also want to consider bringing some small toys or books if possible.

If you are in the process of planning your exit from an abusive relationship, check out our Safety Planning Checklist for Fleeing an Abusive Relationship.

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