Day Trip Packing List 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.

Happy tourists enjoying excursion over European town seeing sights and taking pictures on a day trip
When you follow a good day trip packing list you can enjoy your day knowing you have everything you need.

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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.

For more about this purse, read my full Travelon anti-theft crossbody bucket bag review

Travelon Anti-Theft Cross-Body Bucket Bag, Black, One Size
  • 5-Point Anti-Theft security system
  • Locking main compartment with slip pockets and zippered pocket, plus an organization compartment with RFID blocking card and passport slots.
  • Front slash pocket, zip rear pocket and removable LED light. Will hold a 10” tablet


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 (it’s lasted him for many years and thousands of miles of travel all over Europe!), it’s very similar to this backpack you can buy on Amazon

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 a water bottle. 

It also doubles as his personal item bag when we travel by plane. 

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Shoulder Bag 

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? 

TIP: Keep track of your packing list with this editable travel packing list spreadsheet.

Prefer pencil and paper? Grab the printable blank packing lists.

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 bottle 

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

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 glasses.  


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.

Need help finding your perfect travel guide? Read my post on the best travel guidebooks.  

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.  

Hand sanitizer 

Travel can be dirty. Pack a small bottle of hand sanitizer like this.  

Lip balm 

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. 

Hubby loves this lip balm.  

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

Travel packs of tissues and/or toilet seat covers (again depending on where you’re traveling) make good additions to your day bag. 

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 having 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, and debit card if you 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 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 the weather when you return, particularly if you have a bit of a distance to walk back to your accommodations. 

Dress in layers so that you’ll be prepared for any sudden changes in weather or the possibility that the weather forecast is 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 list 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:

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Happy tourists enjoying excursion over european town seeing sights and taking pictures with text about day trip packing list
Happy tourists enjoying excursion over european town seeing sights and taking pictures with text about day trip packing list


  1. After a lifetime of independent travel, using land-based public transport as well as, lately, a small campervan, age (77) and circumstances (Brexit😖) have encouraged me to take an organised trip which includes flights as well as various land-based travel options. Over the years, I have developed my own luggage and packing system, especially the “throw it all in “ method for the campervan! Now there are flying restrictions – Liquids in a plastic bag! Strict size limit for carry-on luggage! Controls on what travel snacks can be taken through customs when arriving in the EU! (Yes, I understand, the snacks are supposed to be eaten in flight😀). I’m finding it difficult to adjust to the fact that I am not taking my own home/tent/hotel room on wheels everywhere I go. I’m having to PLAN my packing and luggage, for goodness sake! So, thank you for all your notions and ideas. I will adapt if not adopt.

  2. Alice Carroll says:

    You made a good point that packing light is also important when planning to book a tour. I’d like to find a good multi-day tour soon because I want to go out of town with my kids. I think that will be a good way for us to bond.

    1. Darcy Vierow says:

      Thanks for reading!

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