While trotting about after my 2-year-old god-daughter at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I spent some time digging through the diaper bag that goes everywhere with my best friend and her toddler, and I became inspired. Every other toddler’s parent at the Aquarium had their own diaper bag too–some sort of tote or pack filled with favored snacks, layers of clothing, medicine, toys, and of course spare underpants. Anything and everything that a toddler might need throughout a long day away from her usual home environment.
Halfway through the Aquarium visit I wanted my own diaper bag filled with everything I could need for every possible contingency! I probably won’t need a binky or my favorite stuffed pony (though you never know), but a spare pair of socks, a couple of inflatable pillows, and one of those “emergency” rain ponchos could all come in super-handy on excursion days.
Here’s the list I’ve put together for my Day Pack. Yours will no doubt vary.
* Easy-to-carry bag.
I have a dislike of backpacks, so I go with a big ol’ purse or tote. Pick whatever works best for you–think hardest about what will be comfortable to carry while walking.
Enough of my usual meds to last 2 days, including plenty of breakthrough painkillers. All in one bottle to decrease the number of things in my bag. Don’t forget OTC painkillers, herbal medication, and anti-acids/indigestion remedies.
* Comfort and support aids
For me, that means a small cold pack and a small heat pack. I’m considering adding a folding cane to my kit–for support when I’m having a pain attack. Some things other travelers with pain might find useful are ace bandages, flexible joint braces, and in-soles.
* First aid kit
I carry a small one with the basics on trips. You never know when your healthiest companion will step bare-footed onto a red ant nest.
* Stadium seat with back
One of these things. I don’t have this yet, but plan to get one for my travels this year. I’ll report back on how well it works.
* Inflatable pillows
For long plane rides, I prefer my bean-filled u-shaped neck pillow. But for day trips, my inflatable u-pillow works just fine, and takes up far less room in my bag.
* A snack
I usually go for raw nuts and fresh or dried fruit. The nuts have protein and make me feel full, the fruit has natural sugar that peps me up. It’s important to keep my blood sugar stable–hormone fluctuations influence my pain. That means I also have to ease back on sugar-added foods. And nitrate preservatives hurt my bladder. So no lunch meats or salamis. When you pack your snack, think about both your health needs and your pleasure. Because I love baked goods, I often add a cookie or a brownie to my snack pack. That way I’m less tempted to buy an even-worse-for-me candy bar at a gas station.
* Water bottle
I often skip this item and I really shouldn’t. Bulky bottles take up tons of space in my bag. But I like the new, super-lightweight stainless steel bottles with carabiners. I can clip the bottle to the outside of my bag, leave it empty if I can’t deal with the weight, and fill it up when I find a convenient water source.
* Spare clothes
Socks and underwear, always. Also, layers. I get cold when it’s 60 degrees, so I often keep a zip-up sweatshirt in my bag or someplace nearby. I’ll add a swimsuit if it’s summer and there’s any chance that the occasion will call for it.
* Rain poncho
To save space in the bag, I go for those little semi-disposable ponchos that fold down to almost nothing, but keep the rain off if a sudden storm crops up while I’m out.
For me, that means my fabulous new Kindle, though it used to be a paperback book. My fiance favors his PSP. For you, it might be your iPod Touch. Whatever you prefer if you find yourself sitting on a bench waiting for transportation, or a restaurant to open, or a bus to get you back to your hotel.
What about lip balm, cell phone, camera, wallet, and keys? I’m a woman–I carry a purse too. My male readers can put these things into the day pack too.
Have I forgotten anything? I probably have. Post here if there’s something that you’d find essential, or even just convenient, in an all-contingencies day-trip bag.