This last week marked two years of COVID impacting our lives for my family, but this last weekend also marked a return to our local Renaissance Fair, a tradition COVID had disrupted for us for two years now. We’ve been working our way through what things we feel comfortable attending throughout COVID, but reinstating our annual Renaissance Fair trip was a big step towards normalcy for us. It had been long enough that I found myself dumping out my favorite daytrip bag to see what all needed to be removed from it and what all I might need to add to it. The art of what to pack in a daytrip bag is a skill parents often level over the years, so I thought it might be nice to share what I pack.
The Bag: The first step is to really have the right bag for the job. I use the Convention Version of the ThinkGeek Bag of Holding because it’s a nice shoulder bag with a bunch of really useful pockets that doesn’t feel so heavy halfway through the day that I regret al of my choices. These bags are no longer available brand new although an internet search might turn up a second hand one. Your bag can be a shoulder bag, backpack, whatever. It should have the space to easily carry what you have with enough extra space for anything you might end up buying or needing to suddenly store. Just make sure it’s comfortable.
The Givens: Not included in the picture, but always in my bag is a cellphone, my wallet, and a water bottle. These are common enough that I feel like they should practically be assumed. Sometimes we’ll toss in a snack or two depending on a venue’s food policies.
Sunscreen: It’s not just people in Arizona like us who need sunscreen. If you’ve been heavily socially distancing, check the date on your sunscreen bottle. We discovered all of ours had expired since shutdown and made sure to have fresh bottles on hand. In fact, when your outdoor event season kicks up it’s probably not the worst idea to check the dates.
Aloe Vera Gel: Because we live in a desert, sunscreen and aloe vera really go together like peanut butter and jelly. Even if you sunscreened up decently, you sometimes later found you missed a spot or the sun still creeps in and causes a bit of that tell tale red to show up. Aloe Vera gel quickly comes to the healing rescue. Mine is in a little tub, but most drug stores carry it in little tubes that fit in a day bag pretty easily.
Band-Aids and Neosporin: I keep a little Neosporin container to clean out any cuts and some assorted Band-Aids with my stuff. Among those Band-Aids is a pair of the water resistant kind large enough and flexible enough to fit over blisters from shoes. Grown-ups are often better about making sure they’re in comfortable shoes, but kids often have the awful habit of waiting until their shoes have created a blister to tell you they started fitting kind of tight a few weeks ago. Kids also have growing feet, and don’t always have the benefit of not wearing shoes that may need breaking in a bit.
Hand Sanitizer: Pre-pandemic I had a habit of doing this because our local parks have sinks with running water but no soap so I like to have something on hand to use just in case.
Masks and Cords: Some places still require masks even if you’re personally masking less often. I like to keep a bag of masks and a few cords to clip them onto so that when we have the choice to go without masks, we can always pop them on if we need to and we have a hands free way to keep track of them.
Notebook and Pens: It just feels like a good idea to have something to jot down a quick note with. I can’t remember the number of times another parent or I have encountered each other and done a “that’s so cool, where did you get that?” moment and being able to jot down a quick note is nice. Also, if your kids like to buy similar things but will screech over whose is whose if they can only quickly find one of them, bring a Sharpie or something you can use to carefully mark which thing belongs to which kid.
Kleenex: I’m allergic to nature, so is most of my family. It’s just a good idea.
Eyeglass Cleaner: Everyone in our immediate family wears glasses and a lot of outdoor events get dusty out here. If dusted up glasses bug you, carry some extra cleaner and a wipe.
Lotion: Dry climates can do a job on skin and I like having lotion on hand for after I wash my hands to combat that. Mine has a little holder that even clips onto my bag.
Chapstick: Again with the dry climate. I’d rather not lick my lips all day long and make it worse.
Plastic Bags: This is one of my favorite parenting tricks. I like to keep a few sandwich bags and quart size bags on hand. Sometimes small purchases don’t come in bags or come in bags that are so small they are easily lost. Sometimes a kid destroyed a snack bag but can’t finish a snack, sometimes something gets wet or dirty and you want to store it in a way that contains the mess. Can you get some ice? A plastic bag and ice can make a quick ice pack if needed. They also work as quick trash bags if needed. Overall, they’ve come in handy quite a few times for us.
Mensuration Products: If you or one of your pre-teens/teens uses tampons or pads, it’s always a good idea to keep a few extra on hand. Kiddos who are new to managing a period can easily blank on bringing extras or forget to restock if they run out. I’ve also heard way to many stories of first periods hitting at the most inconvenient time possible (like a family day trip).
That’s the inside of my typical daytrip bag. Your needs may vary, but this may also give you an idea on where to start with what to pack in yours.