Learn how to pack a day bag so you don’t forget any of the essentials
Day trips are a great way to explore multiple destinations without changing accommodations. Just hop on a train or join a guided excursion.
But you’ll want to do a few things to prepare for your trip first. Follow the recommendations in this day trip packing list so you don’t forget anything when packing a day bag.
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✅ This day trip essential is my #1 recommendation for your day trip packing list.
These bags are day trip essentials
Anti-theft crossbody bag
When venturing out on my travels for the day, this anti-theft crossbody bag is an absolute must.
I love how the zippers lock shut so that I know that nobody can just slip the zipper open while I’m not paying attention. There’s also an RFID blocking compartment to protect your credit cards from electronic identity theft.
This bag is also slash resistant and the strap is too, making it far less likely that a purse snatcher will be able to easily cut the strap and get away with your bag. In spite of these helpful features, I still always wear the bag across my body and keep a hand on my bag at all times.
It’s also very lightweight and surprisingly roomy, holding all the essentials you’ll need for your day trip.
I also love the sturdy, stain resistant and water repelling material it’s made of. This way I don’t hesitate to set it on the floor when dining out and wrap the strap around my ankle for safekeeping. I never just drape the strap across the back of my chair.
Hubby loves to use his backpack for longer day trips or those when we’re traveling further afield.
Although Jansport no longer makes his exact backpack anymore (it’s last him for many years and thousands of miles of travel all over Europe!), it’s very similar to this backpack.
He loves that there’s plenty of room for a jacket, his large camera bag and any souvenirs we might pick up. Plus, there’s exterior space for water a bottle.
It also doubles as his personal item when we travel by plane.
For shorter day trips or when he doesn’t feel like he needs to carry much, hubby prefers to use his Rick Steves Civita shoulder bag. It’s reasonably priced and comfortable to carry.
Though not as roomy as the bag I swear by (above), it’s a great alternative to a backpack, especially for guys who want a shoulder or crossbody bag that doesn’t look like a purse.
Day trip packing list
When deciding what to pack for a day trip, I usually ask myself these questions:
- How far am I traveling from my accommodations?
- How long will we be away?
- What is the weather like where we’re going? AND what’s the forecast for when we return at the end of the day?
Read More → Is a Pisa Day Trip Worth It?
Camera or phone for photos
When hubby’s feeling serious about taking photos on a day trip, he’ll pack his camera bag in his backpack.
Otherwise, we just take our phones. We have never taken better “phone pictures” than we have since we switched to these phones
Portable charger and cable
Make sure your awesome phone doesn’t lose juice while you’re exploring your day trip destination.
I always carry a portable charger just like this one. It’s small and lightweight. Perfect for slipping into your day bag.
Oh, and don’t forget to bring the cable along as well.
Water is one of the most important essentials for your day bag.
I often buy a bottle of water at my departure airport to drink on my flight and then just re-use that for my entire trip. I tried a collapsible re-usable water bottle, but it just didn’t hold enough.
And some other water bottles are just too heavy to add the weight to a day bag. Or they’re crazy expensive (hello, Hydro Flask).
If you prefer to purchase a re-usable bottle, these are my favorite affordable lightweight water bottles.
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Waterproof jacket with a hood (so you don’t need to carry an umbrella)
A lightweight, breathable rain jacket with a hood is a must on a day trip since I hate to carry an umbrella unless I really have to.
With a jacket like this one, you’ll stay dry without trapping heat and making you all sweaty and yucky.
It also packs small…perfect for adding to your travel partner’s backpack if you don’t feel like carrying it yourself (thanks, honey!).
An inexpensive pair of sunglasses—that you won’t be heartbroken over if they get lost—like these Amazon Choice aviator-style glasses are a good choice for outdoor activity day trips.
Hubby likes to wear clip-on sunglasses over his prescription glass.
I’m one of those people whose blood sugar can just drop like a rock if I don’t eat regularly, so I always travel with healthy snacks to get me through to the next meal when necessary.
These granola bars are a staple in my day bag.
These snacks usually get packed as well.
Apples also make a great day trip snack…and then you don’t have any wrappers to dispose of either.
I recommend you take your guidebook with you so you can refer back to it for dining options and to make sure you don’t miss anything you want to see.
My favorite anti-theft crossbody bag has room to hold a physical guidebook along with my other essential items.
I also love to carry Kindle e-books with me on my phone. Rough Guides excels at formatting their e-book travel guides for kindle.
Using an e-book also has the added benefit of disguising your identity as a tourist a little bit more than wandering the streets with a physical guidebook in your hands.
Personal care items
Keep yourself protected from the sun with this SPF 70 stick sunscreen. Stick sunscreens are great for taking with you on the go. You don’t have to worry about any leakage in your day bag.
You can also use it for your face, but I don’t like how it feels so I use this SPF 50 sunscreen on my face every single day. Apply under your makeup before your day trip.
Travel can be dirty. Pack a small bottle of hand sanitizer like this.
Travel can also be dehydrating, so I always pack this lip balm. I can’t use waxy lip balms, and this is the only one that doesn’t break me out.
Wet wipes, tissues and toilet seat covers
Travel packs of wet wipes are a good idea to pack depending on where you’re traveling. These are my favorites.
Miscellaneous first aid
Pack a few first aid items like band-aids, alcohol wipes and pain relievers just in case. There’s not much worse than have a bloody scrape or headache intrude upon your amazing day trip experiences.
Tickets for train or attractions/sites
Make sure you have all your tickets with you before you head off on your day trip.
In addition to having digital copies and email confirmations on my phone, I like to print out hard copies of everything.
I love technology, but I don’t trust it to get me into the Vatican Museums at my appointed time, thank you very much.
Spare cash, credit cards, debit card if need more cash
I always recommend carrying some cash with you when you travel. Make a stop at a cash machine if you need to and withdraw some additional funds in the local currency.
Cash is handy to for small purchases like an occasional coffee or a cheesy souvenir. You may also run into times when credit card readers won’t cooperate.
This can be especially frustrating if you’re trying to buy a train ticket to Versailles…I’m just saying. In that case, you’ll be thankful you have cash on you as an alternative to waiting in line to purchase your tickets from the attendant at the window.
ID, wallet, keys etc.
Don’t leave for your day trip without proper identification, medical insurance cards, etc. We also take color photocopies of all our important travel documents and ID and keep them in separate compartments from the actual items.
Make sure you also don’t leave without your hotel room or Airbnb keys.
Other tips for your day trip
Dress in layers
Pay close attention to weather forecasts for your day trip destination AND the town where you’re staying. Depending on how far you’re traveling for your day trip, the weather could be completely different.
You’ll also want to be prepared for weather when you return, particularly if you have a bit of a distance to walk back to your accommodations.
Dress in layers so that’ll you’ll be prepared for any sudden changes in weather or the possibility that the weather forecast was wrong (impossible!). #sarcasm
Wear the proper shoes
You’ll also need the proper shoes. And I don’t just mean comfortable shoes that won’t leave you in pain at the end of your day.
Don’t be like me and wear flimsy little TOMS at the Forum on a day trip to Rome. I nearly fell and turned my ankle multiple times because the quite uneven ground really requires shoes with sturdy soles.
If you’re going hiking, you’re going to want good support. I find hiking ankle boots too constricting, so that’s why I wear these hiking shoes.
They’re also waterproof, which is great for me, because I’m the kind of person who will walk straight into a puddle because I’m not paying attention to where I’m walking. Probably because I have my nose in my guidebook.
Confirm all reservations
Take a beat to make sure that your motor coach tour or train tickets are in order and you have the correct date.
Make sure you’ve booked any advance tickets or reservations you need for whatever sites or attractions you’re seeing.
Final thoughts on the day trip packing list
Packing for a day trip can be a lot to think about. But with this packing you should have everything you need every time.
No stress. No worries.
What about you? Do you have any other tips for how to pack your day trip bag?
Related packing list articles:
- Why you should pack light
- The ultimate weekend getaway packing list
- How to pack light for a week in Europe
- The 10 best tips for how to pack carry-on only
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