Heading out for a day of adventure but not sure what to bring with you? You don’t want to be left without the essentials but you also don’t want to be overloaded with unnecessary items either. Day Trips TravelingMom has the tips on what to pack in your day trip bag as well as a free printable checklist.

How to Pack a Well-Stocked Day Trip Bag - Free Printable Checklist!

Ready for the beach! – Photo Credit: Julie Bigboy / Day Trips TravelingMom

What’s in the Well-Stocked Day Trip Bag?

One of the best things about taking a day trip is that you don’t have to pack luggage! You can, for the most part, just jump in the car or start walking with the clothes on your back and head out for the day. However, there are some considerations to make concerning weather, length of time away, and where you’re going and for that, you should plan ahead and pack up what you’ll need.

Choosing a Bag

With consideration to all of your needs, choosing the bag to bring with you is foremost. Will you be carrying this bag with you throughout the day or will it be left in your car or kept in a locker? Do you prefer a bag that closes shut (like a backpack with zippers or a drawstring) or something open that allows you to grab and go (like a utility tote). How large will you need the bag to be? Will you be combining all needs into one bag, like towels for the beach or will you carry multiple bags to cover different needs, like diapers for the baby?

If traveling with a large group, consider splitting up supplies into two separate bags. I usually carry a lightweight cross-body purse that holds essentials, medications and sunscreen. My husband carries a backpack that holds water bottles, snacks and spare clothing.

Maps & Guides

If you have the time and no special agenda, getting “lost” can be a welcome adventure! However if you’re on a schedule or there are specific sights you want to see, having a printed map can be invaluable. I like to pre-print Google map directions so I have step-by-step directions and not rely solely on GPS. If you have a guide book, bring it along or make a copy of the specific pages you want to refer to that day.

How to Pack a Well-Stocked Day Trip Bag - Free Printable Checklist!

Packing up essentials in a backpack – Photo Credit: Julie Bigboy / Day Trips TravelingMom

The Essentials

It’s unlikely that you’ll need your check book or every department store credit card in your wallet, so lighten the load and only take the essentials. You’ll probably only need your credit card, driver’s license and some cash.

Sun Protection

If you’ll be spending any time outside, sun protection is a must (yes, even when it’s overcast weather). Pack up sunscreen and a hat that has a protective brim. I never leave the house without my sunglasses and make sure my kids have them too if we’ll be walking outside. If you’ll be spending an extended time in hot weather, consider wearing SPF protective clothing or at the very least, long sleeves to protect your arms from the rays. Don’t forget lip balm with an SPF to avoid chapped or burnt lips.

Health Care

A travel-sized package of tissues is a blessing when sneezes strike. Having a pack of wet wipes is great too, for wiping down dirty hands and faces. Also, don’t forget to bring hand sanitizer and use it frequently, especially before eating if you can’t get to a restroom to wash up first.

Alternate Footwear

When dressing for the day, think about your plans and dress accordingly. Will you be getting wet? Make sure to wear waterproof shoes and take a second pair of socks, or bring simple sandals or flip-flops to change into before getting wet. If your day trip includes a lot of walking or standing, consider packing a second pair of shoes to change in to mid-day. Switching out from closed-toed shoes to sandals can help ease swollen feet. If I’m wearing athletic shoes, I always pack a second pair of socks to change into when my feet are hot and sweaty.

How to Pack a Well-Stocked Day Trip Bag - Free Printable Checklist!

A crossbody purse can hold it all – Photo Credit: Julie Bigboy / Day Trips TravelingMom


With four kids, you can bet that I always make sure to keep a good stock of snacks in my day trip bag! Purchasing snacks on-site for six can be expensive and unnecessary if you bring them yourself. Pack snacks in individual serving sizes so you can hand them out throughout the day. We like homemade trail mix, sturdy crackers, cut veggies like carrots, bell peppers and celery, fresh fruit that won’t get easily bruised and dried fruits and nuts. Avoid snacks that will melt, like chocolate, or things that get easily broken, like chips. Don’t forget a water bottle for each person that can be refilled on-site. Be sure to check with the establishment you are visiting before packing in your own snacks; some places will prohibit outside food.

An Extra Bag

Fold up a lightweight tote and keep it inside your day trip bag. Use it if you need it to hold souvenirs or wet clothing.

Medications & First Aid

Prone to ailment? Be sure to bring common medications with you like ibuprofen and antacids. This will help save you a stop at the convenience store as well as the added cost. A small first aid kit can go a long way if you’re hurting. I always try to bring a few bandages, though antiseptic wipes and ointment are ideal if you’ll be away from running water. I like liquid bandage, like New-Skin for protecting areas like fingertips and the bottoms of your feet where bandages won’t stick. Do you tend to get eaten alive by bugs? Don’t forget a travel-size bug repellent!

How to Pack a Well-Stocked Day Trip Bag - Free Printable Checklist!


Electronics and Chargers

Naturally you’ll bring your cell phone with you, but what about when the battery dies? Invest in a charger that will power up several cell phones at once (don’t forget to pack the cords!) so you can keep in touch if separated. Pack your camera  and spare battery.

Evening Attire

Will your day trip take you out into the evening? Check the forecast and see if you’ll be needing an extra layer when the sun goes down. Stuff a lightweight jacket in your bag or tie a sweatshirt around your waist to wear when the temperature drops.

Free Day Trip Bag Checklist Printable

Print out the FREE Day Trip Bag Checklist for your next day trip so you don’t forget anything!

How to Pack a Well-Stocked Day Trip Bag - Free Printable Checklist!

Printable checklist – Credit: Julie Bigboy / Day Trips TravelingMom

Check out these day trip ideas from TravelingMom –

Where are your favorite day trip locations? Share below in the comments!