When we tour, most of what we carry is stored on my back so I try to pack light. Here are the essentials that we just don’t skip.
- Our packing list starts with an appropriate backpack; I use a Timbuktu Candybar backpack. It’s sturdy and a good size for our needs. I also covet this one from Patagonia, which I’ve admired on other mama’s while out and about.
- Clipboard & Pencil – We take photos, of course. But I also love asking B to draw what she’s seeing and experiencing. I prefer the ½ size, mini clipboards. I update them with a small piece of stick on Velcro in the upper corner, and then wrap a small piece of Velcro around the top of a pencil. I’ve found this works better than string, which tends to get tangled. I then cut a few pages of standard letter size paper in ½ and load the clipboard with a supply of 5-7 pieces.
- Sunscreen – A tiny sun protection stick fits easily in the pocket of my backpack and doesn’t have a risk of leaking. If we forget to apply before leaving the house, or need to reapply during the day, I’m ready to go. This is a staple even when I think we’ll be indoors – you never know when you might decide to enjoy a picnic lunch.
- Light blanket –I was given so many receiving blankets at my baby shower, and kept one with me at all times through B’s early days. I quickly realized just how useful they could be. Too chilly? Use a blanket. Need a picnic snack but the grass is a little damp? Blanket. B needs a quick costume change but there’s no private place in sight? Screen with a blanket. Bench, seat, or slide is wet? Dry it with the blanket. Honestly, the uses are endless.
- Hand Sanitizer – Soap and water is always preferable but not always available. When my daughter touches something questionable on the bus, interacts with live animals at the zoo, or… whatever… I feel much better knowing I can at least offer this.
- Snacks – I’ll never forget the first time I heard the expression “Hangry” and realized I’m not the only one who quickly becomes unbearable when hunger strikes. As it turns out, my daughter is the same way. We pack fruit, crackers or some cheese into reusable snack bags. I bought mine from Kustom Kate on etsy, she’s a high school friend of mine and SO talented. Always pack a snack!
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- Reusable water bottle – Thirst, like hunger, can ruin an otherwise lovely day. I always carry a reusable water bottle and refill as needed throughout the day. This one is our favorite.
- Cash– Cash is king in so many situations. Even if I plan to pay with plastic or think our plans will be free, I’m always sure to keep a bit of cash with me. There are inevitably situations that arise when it’s helpful to have.
- Membership/Discount Cards – I keep my teacher ID, as well as zoo and museum membership cards in my wallet. If you’re a teacher, a military family, a member of AAA, a member of any museum… I recommend keeping those cards with you. It never hurts to ask, “are there any discounts available?” as you enter a fee-based site.
- Business/Contact Cards – These can be quickly and inexpensively designed using VistaPrint, Kinko’s or your local printer. Put one in your child’s pocket so if he or she becomes lost your contact info is readily available. Keep a few in your backpack to hand to people you meet and may want to connect with again. Left your sunglasses/hat/coat somewhere in the museum and hope to be reunited with it? Leave your card with guest services with a note on the back describing the lost item.
- Camera – It’s possible that your phone works for this. However, I sometimes prefer to bring a separate camera. It takes better photos, and I avoid the temptation of checking email between shots.
- Comfortable shoes – for both adults and kids. I sometimes wonder if I should choose cute over comfort but experience tells me it’s just not worth it. I’m making an effort to invest in more shoes that fit both categories – cute and comfortable – but these tend to be pricey and my humogo feet mean selection is limited. I hope someday uncomfortable shoes are a non-issue because they don’t exist in my closet….
- Weather appropriate clothing – This varies of course but – here in Chicago anyway – something is always on the list. Rain gear, winter hats, sunglasses, extra layers… check the weather, hope for the best and assume the worst. If any of you are reading in Southern California you can just rewrite the title of this blog as “14 indispensible things we don’t tour without” or add sunglasses here…
- Minor first aid items – a few bandages and an alcohol pad or antibiotic ointment, adult pain reliever for noisy-kid induced headaches, tissues, eye drops if you wear contacts, maybe an antacid. These small items fit easily in the pocket of your backpack and can mean the difference between ending the day and carrying on despite a minor setback.
- My iphone – Oh, how it pains me to admit this one… I strive to stay away from the phone when I’m with B. I tell my husband at least every few months that I think our phones are a waste of money and we should return to something simpler like… oh, I don’t know, my beloved Razor. But, I really don’t mean it. Despite the addictive pitfalls this is one useful little piece of technology. Maps, a camera, note taking capability, weather, my contact list, public transportation information, our calendar…. I don’t leave home without it and I’m guessing if you have one you don’t either.
What do you consider essential? Anything here that you think is extraneous? Anything I missed?
Don’t forget to enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win a gift card to Kustom Kate on etsy. Also, browse Kate’s shop and use the coupon code TTG10 for 10% off anything.