What to Pack for a Day Trip: 9 Simple Essentials for Your Day Bag

You’re on a day trip in the full sun feeling parched and hungry.  The weather changes, there is a light drizzle and the wind has picked up.  You don’t have enough money to stop in a cafe to escape the elements as that chill has run deep into your bones.  Not to mention that sinking feeling as you have been unable to record all the great things you’d seen because you forgot to bring a camera.  It could all have been avoided if you’d only stopped to include a few essentials on your day trip packing list.

I’ve been taking a day pack with me on day trips since I first backpacked around Europe in the early 1990’s.  Today I still load up some day trip essentials when I head out exploring.  It doesn’t matter whether I’m taking a day trip in my hometown of Perth or on a trip to some far-off destination, there are certain things that I want to be packed in my day bag.

So let me share with you nine, day trip essentials I pack into my day bag and why I pack these items in my daypack.  Plus get a free PDF printable of the day trip checklist.

In this Article on What to Pack for a Day Trip You Will Learn:

A packing checklist for your day pack when taking a day trip on holiday or at home.
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Image by Lukas Kurth from Pixabay

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My Day Trip Packing List

Start with a lightweight and easy-to-carry bag.  Personally, I like a small backpack style, whilst it’s not that glamorous it is comfortable and safe.  One of these daypacks* might be perfect for you or perhaps you would prefer something a little more flashy like these ones*.

1. Staying Hydrated

It doesn’t matter where I go.  Visiting a museum, hiking about a national park or even sailing on a day cruise – I’ll get thirsty.  Water is the best source of hydration for me.  These days I use my own water bottle*, filled with filtered water from home.  But if I am travelling overseas I buy a 1.5L (48fl oz) bottle of drinking water.  The recommended water intake to stay healthy is 2L (64fl oz) per day – for me, there’s no point buying that little 500ml (16fl oz) bottle.

Of course, you could go with the thought that you can buy water along the way, often you can, but sometimes you can’t.  Besides by the time your body is telling you that you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.  So remember that Boy Scouts motto – be prepared.

Top Trip Tip: Stay hydrated

2. Need Energy

Whilst in that “be prepared” frame of mind I also add a simple snack to my travel day trip bag.  There’s not much worse than a rumbling tummy or my sugar levels dropping so much that I start to get the shakes.

I like to choose something like a piece of fruit (apple) or a muesli bar that stays fresh and won’t go off during the day.  If I don’t eat a snack during my day trip it doesn’t matter.  I would just rather have a little bit of something healthy and filling than have to resort to fast food.

Top Trip Tip: Include healthy snacks

3. Record the Fun

Throughout my day trip, I always see and experience new and interesting things.  I want to record my adventures to reflect on them another day or show off to family and friends.  So I add my point-and-shoot high-resolution camera or just my smartphone.

You may prefer to pack a video camera, a high-quality camera or just your smartphone to record all your activities.


Top Trip Tip: Pack a camera

4. Keep in Touch

On some day trips, I don’t really need a special camera to record the action.  The camera in my smartphone is good quality for recording a lot of our family day trips.  So I always take my phone.

The other thing, smartphones offer so much more than just taking a quick snapshot or being contactable whilst you are out.  You can use GPS maps, access websites for location details, find somewhere nearby to eat and much more.  If you don’t have a data plan or you are overseas, look for WiFi hotspots – many cities and facilities (eg. McDonald’s) offer free WiFi.

If you would like some more travel tips on staying in touch whilst you travel – click HERE.

Top Trip Tip: Don’t forget the smartphone for taking photos, using maps and keeping in touch

5. Going to Have to Pay for Something

At some point during the day trip, money will be required.  Whether it’s just to buy a ticket for public transport, entry fees to attractions, purchase a souvenir or splash out on a nice meal.  I will need to pay for something.

I don’t like to carry too much cash on me when I am travelling overseas.  So I usually try to budget how much I will need for the day, add in a contingency amount and take a credit card for backup.

Top Trip Tip: You’ll need cash and a credit card stored in a safe travel wallet

6. Stay Sun Safe

Making my way to public transport, to attractions and through outdoor attractions, I am out in the fresh air and in the sunshine.  Winter or summer the sun’s rays are damaging to our skin.

Prior to leaving on my day trip, I slather on sunscreen and slap a hat on my head.  Soft hats can be better as they will easily fold up into the day trip bag, firm hats won’t fold up and you’ll have to carry the hat.

Top Trip Tip: Pack a hat and sunscreen

7. It Might Get Cold

The weather may turn cool throughout the day (unless it’s the middle of summer).  So I like to take a light jumper/sweater or at least a wrap/pashmina.

8. There are Dark Clouds Out There

However, I don’t generally pack for wet weather unless I know it’s forecast.  If I have to take something, I add a small fold-up umbrella* or rain poncho*.  Small and light are what I want in my day pack.

Top Trip Tip: Always prepare for unexpected changes in weather

9. What Else is Planned

Finally, before I leave for my day trip I take into account what I have planned for the day.

If I am overseas visiting religious sites, I may want a sarong to cover up – showing respect.  Off to a water park or the beach then I will need swimmers – I might also want to add a wet gear bag* and a microfibre towel*.

Then again perhaps all I need is a good pair of walking shoes or sandals to get me through my day trip.

Top Trip Tip: Pack special activity gear

Plan for your day by the sea with the…

For the Kids

Packing for day trips with kids is much the same as for just adults with just a few various and lots more of the same.

Packing for Day Trips with Baby or Toddler

If you are not breastfeeding you will need to pack:

  • Sterilised water
  • Portioned formula
  • Baby food and spoon
  • Extra water
  • Healthy portioned snacks (you can either buy these already pre-portioned or make your own with zip lock bags
  • Hat
  • Age-appropriate sunscreen

Packing for Day Trips with Older Kids

As your kids get older they may be able to carry their own backpack/day bag.  Pack into their bag:

  • Water
  • Healthy snacks.  Lots of portioned snacks – kids are continually hungry
  • Hat
  • Age appropriate sunscreen

Continue planning for trips with older kids with the…

Recapping What to Include on Your Day Trip Packing List

And there’s a free printable day trip checklist just below 🙂

  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Camera
  • Phone
  • Wallet
  • Hat
  • Light jumper/sweater
  • Special activity gear

Would you like your own packing list for day trips?

If you would like to know what to pack in your main trip travel bag then check out this Ultimate Trip Packing List.

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