Day tripping is one of the best parts of traveling and this is partly because we leave our luggage behind and travel light — often with just a small Day Bag. I have a pre-packed Day Trip Essentials Kit, which makes packing my Day Bag fast and easy. You might also find a day trip kit helpful for spending time outside the airport on a long layover, or a day exploring a new port city during a cruise, or hiking in the middle of a city!
I love being able to go sightseeing or hiking with just a small backpack and my camera, but I also want to balance traveling light with being well prepared. My pre-packed day trip essentials kit lets me quickly include small things like a band aid, a nail file, a safety pin, or an Aspirin that can smooth out small annoyances.
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Organizing a Day Bag for a Day Trip
Typically, when packing our day bag, we gather items from our makeup bag, and toiletries and first aid kits and hope we have what we need. It takes time, and it’s a bit of a hassle to gather the items up and later to put them back.
I save time by assembling small things I might need into a one-quart Ziploc bag. The kit is 8 x 6 x 1.5-inches (20 cm x 15 cm x 4 cm) and weighs 11.4 oz (323 g). I simply toss the pre-packed Day Trip Essentials kit into my daypack along with anything I want from the Day Bag Packing List below, and I’m done.
Since I always keep my ID, cash and cards in my money belt, and my iPhone in my pocket, I don’t need anything else. I’m hands-free and good to go.
A Perfect First Aid Kit for Day Trippers
The Mini First Aid kit, included in the Day Trip Essentials kit, is 3.25 x 4 inches (8.25 cm x 10 cm) and weighs almost nothing. Even so, it holds items that can save the day if you get a splinter or blister or have a headache.
Pre-packing a Mini Day Trip Essentials Kit Saves Time
I seldom use more than a few items on any given trek, but these items are small, cheap, and take little space. With my pre-packed kit, I don’t need to scramble early in the morning to get my day bag organized for an early excursion. I’m well prepared, and my day is more enjoyable.
Day Bag Packing List for Day Excursions
In addition to things in the Day Trip Essentials kit, I take the following list of items. To download a complete PDF copy of both a Day Bag and Day Trip Essentials Kit checklist, click the button below:
- Day Trip Essentials kit below
- Camera gear: Spare battery & SD card, polarizing filter, camera hood, remote shutter release, GorillaPod (tripod)
- Glasses (sun & reading)
- Maps, guides & tickets
- Water bottle
- Clothing for hot, cold, or rainy weather: Hat, coat, jacket, fleece, rain poncho, umbrella, gloves
Create Your Own Custom Kit and Checklist
Create your own Day Trip Essentials kit and day bag checklist to suit your own needs. You will save time and be well prepared for the day. My day bag check list is pretty standard, but the contents in the essentials kit are unique to me and have evolved over time. Here are the reasons for some of the odd bits:
- The Croakie eyeglass strap is an item I added after losing my favorite sunglasses on the Katoomba Mine Train in Australia
- The microfiber cloth is for cleaning glasses and phone screen
- The plastic bag is for small purchases (like postcards) or trash
- The Electro Mix turns a bottle of water into an energy drink. I sometimes need Potassium
- Brow pencil is the only makeup I take because it’s the only makeup I routinely wear
Choosing a Day Bag for Day Tours
- Jim swears by his little black backpack by Eddie Bauer
- My favorite is the Outlander Packable Lightweight Travel Hiking DayPack
The Eddie Bauer comes with a rock solid lifetime guarantee. When Jim’s 5 year old day pack suffered a broken zipper, he brought it back to a store and exchanged it for the latest model, no questions asked. You really can’t beat that kind of customer service.
I have two small back packs I use for day trips and other outings. One is a simple nylon sack with strings for straps. It takes no space in my luggage and is useful on treks where I only want my essentials kit, water, and a windbreaker.
My best day bag is a Outlander Packable Lightweight Travel Hiking DayPack. It’s small, lightweight, washable, and its 7 pockets keep things in place, so everything doesn’t go straight to the bottom of the bag. It also has elastic loops on the side mesh pockets to secure water bottles, and it folds neatly into its 7 x 7-inch interior pocket.
The Day Tripping Kit Works for Other Outings Too
This isn’t just for travels. I keep the Day Trip Essentials kit packed and stored next to my camera. Anytime, I go anywhere that calls for a small daypack, I take this kit. That includes taking my great grandkids to the zoo or aquarium.
Taking the Essentials Kit Through Airport Security
When flying, I often pack the Day Trip Essentials kit in my carry-on bag, but I move the sunscreen and hand lotion to my liquids bag for airport screening. Everything else in the kit is carry-on safe.
The Day Trip Essentials Kit is like an emergency kit. It contains many things you hopefully won’t need, but it can save the day if you do need an item of two. It takes little time and costs very little to build a kit — customized just for you. Plus, a Day Bay Packing List can help you remember to add other items to your day bag, so you have everything you need and nothing you don’t.