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How to Pack and Prepare for a Day Trip

Updated on April 23, 2013
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Laura has been photographing historical, abandoned, and rural ruins in Ontario since getting her first digital camera in 2006.

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A day trip is simple, just the one day away. You don't need to put in a lot of serious planning, you don't need heavy duty packing. If you leave something undone at home - you will be back later the same day to finish it up. Just make sure you leave your home safe - turn things off and lock it up!

A day trip can be something you decide to do just because you want a change of scenery, feel frustrated or need to recharge your creative energies.

I really enjoy a day trip. Day trips can be impulsive or planned in advance. Either way, you don't need to bring a lot with you or plan your life around the one day you're taking off.

Where to Go on a Day Trip

  • Visit friends or family who live in another city or town.
  • Pick a restaurant you wanted to try.
  • Take the bus or train and go into the city for the museum, art gallery, etc.
  • Take the bus or drive out into the country, be rural for the day.
  • Travel around and try farmer's markets on a weekend day.
  • Look for local events like seasonal fairs and festivals.
  • Pick a town you heard something interesting about and go there.
  • Go to the beach. In winter it's cold but still nice to hear the waves.
  • Look into short excursions like ferry boat tours and ghost/ haunted walks.
  • Pamper yourself by going to a spa or enjoying some other luxury.

Check the Weather

Check the weather expected at your planned destination and along the route you plan to take there and back. You can expect seasonal weather but you might want to see if you're heading into a humid or rainy day or a day where the winter is going to dump a few inches of snow. This is also good to know for the driving conditions, if you are driving rather than taking a bus, train or plane.

Pack for the Activities Planned

If you know what you will be doing, make a list of everything you will need. Do this ahead of time so you can add items to the list as you think of them. Trying to think of everything last minute can leave you with something important forgotten at home. You really don't want to be the one person who forgot to pack a swimsuit for the beach.

If you are going to be active (swimming, hiking, etc.) you might want to pack your own shampoo, even though you only plan to be away for the day. Chances are you will find some where to have a quick shower to freshen up before heading home again.

Think of the little things which you may not need but could really wish you had packed, if you had planned ahead. If you don't end up using everything, then just bring it home.

What to Pack

Don't use a huge suitcase or massive luggage for a day trip. You're just going to be stuck carrying around a huge bag when you could be carrying everything much more easily and with less weight to haul around. Your actual bag to be packed should be light weight, as with any luggage.

  • Any tickets, documentation, government or insurance papers you need.
  • Any medicines and toiletries (shampoo, hairbrush, toothbrush, etc.) you need. Pack these as if you were planning the trip for an overnight stay, just in case plans change. Stash a light nightgown and a change of underwear too.
  • ID, money, wallet, credit or debit cards. Keep some cash handy too. One of the best things is stopping for farm fresh produce at the roadside stands.
  • A good book, possibly pens and paper too to keep yourself amused should you end up waiting for someone or something. (I'm into bookpacking myself.)
  • Your electronics of choice: camera, mobile phone, tablet, mini laptop, etc. Pack the chargers too if you haven't already charged the electronics at home.
  • Maps! If you are driving look for maps showing the back roads. Get driving directions if you need them.
  • Something to drink should you be in for a long drive. Stop for coffee if you want to but keep something with you in case you don't find a good coffee place.
  • If you are going anywhere fancy pack an extra set of clothes to wear so you aren't wearing the same travel clothes.
  • Consider items for first aid or wardrobe malfunctions.
  • Consider a sturdy pair of boots if you are the type to stop for interesting detours along the way.
  • Pack sunglasses for warm travel and warm socks for cold travel.

Of course, you won't need all of this for a day trip. Skip whatever you don't want to pack or carry around. If you can't fit more into your light backpack or travel bag then re-plan how much you are taking and leave some of it behind. The theme of the day is to keep it light. As long as you have the basic ingredients you can usually grab anything else you need along the way. Day trips, after all, are not that far from home.

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