Do you have a packing list for family days out? It sounds super-organised, but in my experience it’s an absolute must!
I’ve had my fair share of disasters in the past, when what should have been fun family days out have suffered from my shoddy packing. I’ve learned from experience that it’s important to avoid lugging around lots of unnecessary stuff, but at the same time you need to take a few essentials to make sure the day runs smoothly.
It really doesn’t take long to pack a bag for a day out, and it can make all the difference to how successful your trip is. Here’s my go-to list of things to take on fun family days out.
A decent bag to keep it all in
Absolutely top of the list is a suitable bag to stash all your stuff. You need comfortable shoulder straps and hard-wearing, ideally water-resistant material. I really like bags that have a few smaller compartments too, this makes it much easier to find small items quickly without lots of rummaging. Rucksacks tick all of these boxes, and as you can wear them on your back they also free up both hands for keeping control of little ones.
If your children are older, it’s well worth getting them in the habit of carrying their own small bag containing things like water and spare clothing, to help free up space in your own bag.
Fun family days out are bound to involve an element of exploring, so make sure everyone is wearing flat, comfortable shoes. While wellies are great for really wet or muddy adventures, they can quickly get hot and uncomfortable. Trainers or lightweight walking shoes are ideal. For more rugged terrain, go for hiking shoes with good support.
If your shoes aren’t waterproof, it’s well worth using a protective spray to keep everyone dry.
Layers of clothing
You never know what the weather is going to do, and the best way to be prepared for this is to take layers that you can add or remove as needed. We’ve found that lightweight fleece jumpers are a brilliant option for cooler days. They keep the kids nice and warm, aren’t too heavy to wear or carry, and dry quickly.
When it comes to coats, something lightweight that is waterproof and wind resistant is a good option. Hoods are great for providing wind protection as well as keeping you dry. Warm hats and gloves are a must in winter, although you can probably persuade everyone to wear them and free up some space in your bag.
It’s always worth taking spare socks for the kids too, they’re bound to find a puddle!
Unless it’s the depths of winter, you should pack sun cream. Don’t assume a cloudy forecast is accurate; we’ve been caught out a few times with this, and it’s a real pain having to track down and buy a new bottle on the day. Sun hats are also a must – and don’t forget to pack them for the adults too.
Snacks & drinks
I can’t even contemplate a family day out that doesn’t involve snacks. If you’ve ever forgotten to take them, you’ll know exactly what I mean 😉
The promise of a snack at an agreed point in the day can be a marvellous motivator, but make sure you pack healthy options that will travel well – so nothing too squashy or easily melted. Breadsticks, rice cakes, dried fruit, pouches of fruit puree and popcorn are all good options, I tend to decant them into lidded food containers to help keep my bag organised.
You also need to pack drinks for each family member. Yes, they’re heavy and you can usually buy them wherever you go, but this can quickly get expensive, and the kids are bound to be suddenly desperate for a drink at the worst time. We usually aim for a decent-sized water bottle each, and if the weather is really warm I add in a few pouch-style drinks as these are a bit easier to carry.
Outdoor adventure bag
This has been a lifesaver for us on days out when the kids have been flagging. We have a small bag which contains a few props that can keep the kids busy, or provide the starting point for an activity. There’s nothing heavy, bulky or expensive in there, so it’s easy to pop it into a rucksack.
The contents will of course be influenced by the age of your children, but we’ve found things like a magnifying glass, paper and pencils, a compass, binoculars, and spotter’s guides for things like minibeasts all work well. Our favourite thing to take is double-sided tape or string, both are brilliant for making journey sticks to record the day’s adventures.
This doesn’t need to be a huge list for a single day out, but in my experience it’s well worth packing wet wipes, tissues, plasters and antibacterial hand gel. And finally, don’t forget your wallet – yes, we’ve managed to do that too, which is why I have a packing list now!
What’s top of your packing list for fun family days out?