All Ages

How to Make the Perfect Day Pack for Kids: A Winning Game Plan

Father and Son on European Vacation; Courtesy of NadyaEugene/Shutterstock.com

You’re headed out for a day of adventure! Pave the way for a great day out with your kids with this winning Day Pack Game Plan.

Review the Team Roster

Before you fill your day pack, take note of the family members on your trip “team.” The ages (and related needs) of your travel team will help you hone in on the essentials you’ll need to include. For instance, if you’re day tripping with a toddler, diapers and wipes are a must.  Teens will surely want to carry their own devices, but wise parents know that making room in the team day pack for a portable charger will undoubtedly save your sanity.

Related: 9 Best Day Packs for Families

Check the Playing Field

Many of the items in your day pack will relate directly to your specific daytrip destination. Visiting an amusement park? Be sure to pack snacks and activities to keep kids busy while waiting in line. Planning a day at the beach? Stock your bag with sunscreen, sand toys and sunglasses. Going on a hike? Don’t forget bug spray.

Assign Positions

A good team is made up of players who are “experts” at their respective positions. Take the opportunity to get your group working together by assigning family members to serve as “Team Doctor,” “Photographer,” “Beverage Manager” and “Concession Director.”  Make it more fun by handing out lanyards where they can record their official team jobs.

Bring the Uniform of the Day

Swimsuits are a must for a day at the beach or the water park, and they also come in handy for kids who enjoy a refreshing midday trip through a water fountain. If you’re planning a full day of city touring, pack jackets for mornings and evenings, which tend to be cooler. For little kids, include a change of clothes.

Avoid Rain Delays

Don’t let a rainy or a cold day steal your play time. Pack rain jackets with hoods, or a travel umbrella. If you’re traveling during a shoulder season, consider including gloves and hats for each family member.

Keep Your Team Energized and Entertained

Keep your team energized throughout the day with high-protein and low-fat snacks like string cheese, yogurt pouches (freeze ahead), fresh fruit, granola bars and fruit leather. Consider packing a cooling snack bag for food storage if you’re traveling in warmer weather. If you’re planning a restaurant lunch, include some quiet no-mess kids’ activities to help ease the wait until your food arrives.

Related: 10 Best Travel Cooler Bags

Hydrate for Good Health & Safety

Pack juice boxes and Vitamin Water or Gatorade bottles that you froze the night before. Treat the kids to flavors that appeal to them—but that they might not have at home–and they’re sure to stay well-hydrated .If you’re traveling with a little one, be sure to pack a sippy cup. 

Make a Double Play

Save space and maximize comfort by selecting items for your day pack that have a dual purpose. For example, a portable changing pad that also stores diapers and wipes will maximize comfort for baby, while also helping you to keep items organized. Multipurpose, see-through, quick-dry mesh ZizzyBee Bags are great for storing sunscreen, bathing suits, goggles and gadgets. Pop them in your day pack to find snacks, toys and toiletries quickly, or to keep diapers and wipes easily accessible.

Streamline Rookie Locker Room Visits

No need to stay on the sidelines/stay at home when you’re potty training! Travel potty seats, such as Jool Baby’s folding travel potty seat, makes “going” easier when you’re on-the-go with little ones. Be sure to pack hand sanitizer, too.

Supply the Team Doctor

The “Team Doctor” will need a basic First-Aid kit with essentials like Band-Aids and antibiotic ointment. Think about including items for any special needs your family members might have, such as Orajel for teething babies, medicated lip balm and an Epipen and medical carrying case for a child with food allergies. If your child has a severe food allergy, add an Emergency Medical condition contact card.

Related: How to Make Your Own Travel First-Aid Kit

Hire a Team Photographer

Naturally, you’ll want to have photos to remember your awesome day out. Depending on the age and skill level of the hired shutterbug, equipment might include an instant camera, a disposable camera, or a smartphone.

Related: 9 Best Travel Cameras for Kids

Plan for a Foul Ball

Don’t let a foul ball throw you off your A Game. An error in your perfect day can usually be rescued with comfort items, humor, and —if all else fails—special treats and forbidden technology.

Jackie Perrin has covered the best of family travel for nearly two decades, for media ranging from newspapers and magazines to TripAdvisor.com. At home and on the go, she manages a crew of companions. Follow her on Pinterest, TripAdvisor and Instagram, @NYfamtravels.

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