Packing Tips For a One Day Trip

Let’s be honest.  Packing is always a pain.  Before children, the process would take me several days.  With children, I’ve become a packing procrastinator.  I never know if a last-minute illness or crisis is going to cancel my plans.

I had that same feeling of impending doom during the days leading up to our Milan trip.  Luckily, the boys weren’t going with us, so I didn’t have to stress about what to take along for them.  That also means, however, that this post won’t have tips about what to pack for kids on a one day trip.  I’ll post on that another time.

So, what do I bring for a short, one-day, kid-free trip?

The answer will depend on the circumstances, of course.  Factors to consider:

  • Weather – What’s the temperature, humidity, precipitation?  Will I need something warmer for a cool evening?
  • Destination – Am I going somewhere mountainous, hilly, flat?
  • Activities – Will I be walking all day?  Swimming?  Shopping?  Touring?
  • Travel documents – Do I need a passport?  Visa?  Mutterpass?
  • Money – Should I take cash or use my card?
  • Electronics – My camera is a given, but what about your my phone, iPod, iPad, etc?
  • Transportation – How am I getting to my destination?  Will I have to carry everything  on my person?
  • Going home – What am I planning to bring back?  Do I have a way to carry it?

Some additional tips for you from my own experience:

After you’ve given some thought to your upcoming trip, make a list of everything you think you might want to take.

Then make a star next to everything you absolutely possibly could not go on the trip without (passport and camera perhaps).

Put parentheses around items that you want to bring, but can leave at home if you run out of space.

If you’re sharing the trip (and the responsibility of carrying what you’ll need) with someone, go over the list together.  Decide what each of you will use (backpack, purse, messenger bag, etc) for the day, and discuss the feasibility of fitting in all the items on the list.

In order to avoid any arguments (couples, this is especially for you!), agree in advance who will carry what.

Here’s an example of what Doc Sci and I packed for our day trip to Milan.  Some items are pictured above; some are not.

Factors (see above):

  • Weather – Daytime temperature of 60F, rising to 64F in the afternoon and falling to 54F in the evening.  Chance of rain 10%.
  • Destination – Mostly flat.
  • Activities – Walking all day.
  • Travel documents – Passports and mutterpass.
  • Money – Cash.
  • Electronics – A point-and-shoot camera and a DSLR.  iPods for the bus ride.
  • Transportation – Bus.  We must carry everything with us the whole day.
  • Going home – Souvenirs, including food items.

Based on this information, here’s what we brought:

  • A big, Kelty backpack for Doc Sci
  • An over-the-shoulder purse for me
  • Passports and my mutterpass 
  • Printed confirmations for our bus trip and Last Supper tickets.
  • Cash (350 euro if you really want to know!)
  • Map of the city with shops, restaurants, and attractions already marked (I cannot stress the value of this enough!  It saves time and money to do advance research.)
  • Wallet with health insurance cards and an emergency credit card
  • Disposable rain ponchos (lighter and less bulky than an umbrella)
  • Cell phones, charged
  • Watch (in case cell phones did not work)
  • DSLR camera with extra battery
  • Point-and-shoot camera, charged
  • iPods, charged
  • Two paperback books (for the bus ride)
  • Sunglasses
  • Makeup (better to do it on the bus than at 5am!) and bobby pins
  • Small pouch with copies of our passports, band-aids, gum, chapstick, a pen, and notepad
  • Reusable shopping bag for purchases
  • Ziploc bags for food purchases and leftovers
  • Breakfast food for the bus and snacks for the day
  • Reusable water bottles

Clothing can be tricky.  I never want to be too hot or too cold.  But, if I had to choose, it’s easier to deal with being too hot than too cold.  Therefore, layering is key.

I chose a short-sleeved shirt and layered it with a tank top.  Jeans were a no-brainer.  I wore comfortable walking shoes with knee socks that could be pulled up if I was cold or folded down if I was hot.

For the outer layer, I wore a fleece under a denim jacket.  I also brought a scarf and gloves.  I ended up bringing a hat for the 530am bike ride in the dark, but I would probably have left that at home otherwise.

So, did it work?  Yes, beautifully.

The only thing I brought that I did not use was my iPod.  But, since it’s quite small and doesn’t take up much weight or space, it was worth it to have the option just in case.

I hope you’ll find these tips on packing for a one day trip to be helpful.  If I’ve left out anything you would have included, please leave a comment below!

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8 thoughts on “Packing Tips For a One Day Trip

  1. I love this list! We are taking a trip much longer than 1 day, but the guidelines are still very useful. Heading to Germany for a month and half this winter, and we have already started making a list and paring it down to what we really need. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Trip Report: Milan In A Day | Thrifty Travel Mama

  3. My family and I are going to legoland for 1 day and this is awesome because now I know exactly what to pack.thank you for sharing your wonderful knowledge with us.

  4. Pingback: Days Out To Suit The Young And The Old | Inspired Magazine

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