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Packing for a day trip should be easy, but forgetting one little essential can make for an uncomfortable and stressful day. Here’s my checklist of what to pack on a day trip. Honestly, this is what I bring even if I’m just out for the afternoon exploring street art in Paris. (I like to be prepared!)

Wallet, ID/Passport, Keys, Tickets (Downloaded or Paper Copy)

I’m counting these as one item! Don’t be the person to forget them. You have no excuse since I put it in the number one spot.


It is so important to stay hydrated. We tend to forget to drink enough while traveling. Nalgene bottles are sturdy and easy to clean if you get the wide mouth variety. I used to have a large 32 ounce Nalgene water bottle until it had an unfortunate incident with the heating element in the dishwasher. (I’m definitely not blaming Mom for that…) I am currently in love with the 16 ounce Nalgene water bottle because it’s much easier to carry around on a regular basis.


In an unsurprising turn of events, the third item on the list is food-related. As Jonathan can tell you, I get hangry. I recommend Kind bars. There are a lot of varieties, they pack well, and they don’t make a mess. Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt are my go-to.


Bring an umbrella. Always. (Especially in Paris.) Even if there’s no chance of rain. Ke.movan makes a nice compact travel umbrella. It is on the small side, but it’s sturdy and lightweight, making it easy to have on hand.


Even on a cloudy day, you can get a sunburn. For full coverage in the summer, I opt for a mineral sunscreen. I have found that Alba Botanica makes a mineral sunscreen that actually rubs in without leaving white traces. If I just need something for my face, I typically use Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch sunscreen. I like it, because it doesn’t feel greasy.

Sunglasses / Hat

Protect yourself from the sun with sunglasses and/or a hat! I have a lovely pair of no-name cheap-o sunglasses that have been kicking around for ages.

Hand Sanitizer / Tissues / Handwipes / Feminine Products

I don’t really need to explain these to you, do I?


I never leave home without chapstick. My favorite is Burt’s Bees Peppermint lip balm, but there are other varieties as well.


Get a travel size container of ibuprofen or some other type of pain medication, and refill it as needed. I carry an Advil Pocket Pack. Of course, if you have any medications that you are supposed to take regularly, make sure you have those as well!

Earbuds / Headphones / Phone / Portable Battery

If you plan to listen to music or podcasts on your phone, earbuds are a must. Don’t be the person to forget your phone. Don’t be the person that drains their battery on the way to the destination and also forgot a portable battery. The Anker Portable Charger has proven to be reliable, and you can also charge two devices at once. I also have an Anker Lightning Cable for my iPhone.


I don’t use anything fancy to take pictures, just my phone!


I definitely prefer actual books, but sometimes a kindle is more practical. I’d recommend the version that I have, but it’s so old that it no longer exists! They do tend to last a long time. If podcasts are your thing, download a few on your phone before you head off so that you don’t have to worry about a slow network or wifi.


Make sure you get a backpack that is comfortable. Jonathan really likes his Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack. The shoulder pads are well-cushioned.

Is there anything else that you would add to this list??

What to Pack for a Day Trip: Essentials I Always Bring
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6 thoughts on “What to Pack for a Day Trip: Essentials I Always Bring

  • July 25, 2020 at 3:44 pm

    I know nothing about the water bottle incident. I will admit it did not miss that flopping around lid one little bit.

    • July 29, 2020 at 1:21 pm

      You are most definitely at fault for the demise of my beloved Nalgene. You may have forgotten, but I have not!

  • July 30, 2020 at 10:41 pm

    Hmm…a cardigan! I always need one on the train to NYC and often in the theater as well.

    • July 31, 2020 at 6:08 am

      Good point! I do get cold pretty easily. Hard to think about that lately with the hot weather we’ve been having. It’s supposed to get to 100°F today!

  • August 3, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    Great list! Yes to the Kindle! I’ve been e-reading since I’m not ready to go back to libraries (it doesn’t feel the same as summer reading).

    I usually have to bring a pashmina scarf – I get so cold with the AC blasting everywhere I go. Luckily in France this usually isn’t the case 🙂 I can roll it up and pop it in my backpack and it’s lightweight.

    • August 5, 2020 at 12:44 pm

      Thanks 🙂
      A pashmina scarf is a great idea. They are like mini, fashionable blankets!


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