Packing List For A Day Out With Children (and Giveaway)

When you are going out for the day with young children it is worth being prepared and packing carefully. Children under 10 get tired easily so what might be a quick trip back to the car for an adult can feel like a marathon for little legs. And of course children who are hungry, cold or uncomfortable aren’t known for their patience. As a days out blogger with 3 children I feel I have perfected my packing list for days out to make sure we have what we need on us for the most common eventualities.

And as a bonus there is a chance to win a picnic blanket at the end of this post

(Please note this post contains affiliate links which means if you make a purchase after clicking on a link I may receive a small commission at no cost to you)

A mum and children on a day out with a backpack full of essentials
Packing the essentials makes a day out with children more enjoyable for everyone


What To Pack For A Day Out With Your Children


The Best Bag For Day Out

Regardless of what I pack I will carry everything in a waterproof backpack as this is the most comfortable way to carry a sometimes heavy bag. When choosing a bag make sure it is definitely waterproof (a surprising number of bags aren't) and that it has padded, strong, straps. I find a bag with lots of pockets helps keep me better organised, but you might prefer to only have one compartment to search though. 

I also have some extra items listed here that I leave in the car if driving.  


Low Budget Days Out Packing List

Generally the less money I want to spend the more I have to take with me. You can adjust the list below depending on what you are happy to spend money on and if you have to carry everything. If you have a pushchair to hang a bag on or another adult who can have a bag too it makes it easier to carry more. 

  • Water or other drinks - Most places will happily refill water bottles so it’s easy to stay hydrated without spending money. If your children don’t like plain water bring a little bottle of concentrated squash which can be added to the water.
  • A packed lunch - Food is often the biggest expense on a day out after entrance costs so bringing lunch will save you £££.
  • Snacks - Because children eat all the time. Aim for items that wont get ruined if squashed into the bag.
  • Sweets - If your children always beg for sweets when they are out then take a secret stash separate to your other snacks so you can bring them out as a treat/ reward/ bribe when needed.
  • Mini first aid kit - The exact contents will depend on age of children, but it's worth taking a few small items in your bag in case of emergencies. If taking medicine check what age each medication is suitable for and take a photo of the dosage instructions so you have the information stored on your phone. I pack: a few plasters, a couple of antihistamine tablets and some painkillers (Calpol sachets for under 6, the Calpol 6 plus melts or a few ibuprofen or paracetamol tablets for 12 plus).
  • Picnic blanket - A blanket is a handy place to eat, rest or even just a base to leave items while your children run around. Having a waterproof layer is helpful so you can sit on the floor if it is damp. Blankets can normally clip on to the outside of a backpack so they don't take up essential space.
  • A pencil and paper - They don't take up much space, but they offer endless possibilities.
  • Some form of activity - This will depend on your child, but might be small toy figures, a pack of cards, a book etc. Essentially it's something in case they are in a queue or otherwise waiting around getting bored.
  • Wipes - I generally take damp reusable wipes in a plastic pot, but a packet of baby wipes is another option. They are great for cleaning sticky or muddy hands, faces and cleaning up spills. You might also want to bring antibacterial hand gel.
  • Tissues - I usually buy a multipack of those pocket tissues from Home Bargains or similar and pop a packet in my bag.
  • A spare fabric bag - My children will often start the day in more clothing than they end it. As they throw jumpers, socks etc my direction it is much easier to have another bag to put them in than carry them all separately.
  • Waterproofs - If not wearing coats I will always bring a waterproof jacket per child. Even on a really sunny it can suddenly start to rain. We have those jackets that squish up really small in a bag which makes them a great space saving option incase needed as an extra layer, for wind protection, or for rain.
  • Suncream - In summer we are normally well prepared and apply suncream before we go out, but from Easter onwards a little bottle of suncream is an essential in my bag incase it’s more sunny than expected.
  • Battery charger - If my children want to spend 5 hours in the playground I am a much happier mummy if I have plenty of phone battery. I normally read a book on my kindle app (while checking on my children regularly). Many attractions now have their timetable for the day and maps on Apps too so there can be plenty of demand on phone battery life. If it's just for my iPhone I like a wireless magnet battery pack as it doesn't need a cable, but with a 12 year old I make sure I have a cable to connect and charge her phone too. 
  • Hairband - This can be used to tie up hair if needed or an elastic band to hold something together in an emergency.
  • Socks - If my children are wearing sandals I normally take socks incase we go somewhere with a softplay or similar.
  • Wallet - With some coins incase needed and a cash card at minimum. 
  • Emergency medication - I have migraines so I make sure I always have my medication. If your child needs an inhaler or epipen I'm sure you remember this anyway, but I thought it was useful to list as an extra reminder.
  • Extra clothes - We are thankfully pretty much out of the age of ‘accidents’, but I still tend to bring a spare pair of shorts for my younger two. Normally sports shorts that squash up small as they are handy for if they get too hot, get really dirty or have another form of accident. I might bring a t-shirt or two as well depending on how much space I have.
  • If we are at the beach or anywhere where there are water fountains then a full change of clothes is essential for my younger two, my eldest never needed this. 
  • A towel - Microfibre towels take up so little space in a bag that one comes with me on most days out, ours are mostly from Decathlon as they are a great price. From drying a wet picnic bench or swing to using as an emergency blanket they are super handy when you need them.


Pro Tip (Maybe)

If you have lots of stuff to carry it can be helpful if each child has a small backpack to carry their items in. When they insist on bringing a cuddly toy etc I always say "only if you carry it". Children having their own backpack can lighten your load, but it can also backfire as at some point they will probably take them off (eg at a playground, for rides etc) and you can end up with multiple bags to look after instead of one.


Children on a day out, the two older children are carrying a backpack
It can be really helpful if children take a bag... as long as they carry it


Winter Additions

If you are out in winter then appropriate clothing is important. I always make sure I have gloves and hats in my bag from October onwards, just in case.

It is also a good idea to take an insulated flask of something warm:  either warm water than can be used with flannels to clean cold, dirty hands and faces or a flask of ready made hot chocolate and cups.


Travelling Light

If you want to travel as light as possible what are the absolute essentials I recommend you should take on a day out with your children? These items are what I make my partner take with him on a trip to the playground etc when he refuses to take a bag. A bit of light packing can prevent tears and prevent meltdowns without giving you back ache. 

Everything other than the water will fit into a coat pocket. 

  • A plastic bag - These fold up super small and are not only handy if you buy something, but they are great to sit on if the floor or benches are wet. 
  • Water bottle and cups - If I am out with my 3 children carrying a water bottle for everyone is HEAVY. 4 x 500ml bottles of water is 2kg before you even add in the weight of the bottles. It is normally easy to get bottles refilled so I often take just one or two and a couple of cups. While my children will happily share a bottle I personally don’t fancy drinking water after my 5 year old has has a slurp (backwash yuck) so a cup means I can pour some out for him to drink from. 
  • Snacks - Always with the snacks. If I ever leave the house with my children and without some form of food I regret it. Flapjacks are a good option as they don’t matter if they get squashed and they are filling. 
  • Cash card - My wallet adds weight and space and I normally pay for everything on my phone anyway, so I can skip bringing my wallet, but it’s worth taking a cash card and ID incase of emergencies.
  • Wipes - We were gifted some of these wipes a few years ago and while they aren’t great on the eco front it is so handy to have a couple in our bag or pocket. They are antimicrobial and suitable for both hands and surfaces.
  • Mini First Aid Kit - This takes up pretty much no space (my suggested content is listed above), but it can make a huge difference when needed.


In The Car (My Back Up Kit)

Most of the time when we go out for the day in Essex we drive so we can take more items than if travelling on public transport. If you are driving you might find these games to play on car journeys a sanity saver. 

While it’s often not practical to go back to the car during the day, I make sure we have these items ready for the way home and emergencies:

  • A change of clothes per person (including for me!) you never know what might happen.
  • Towels.
  • Bucket, spades and sand toys (incase we unexpectedly end up somewhere with a sand pit).
  • A ball and frisbee.
  • Blankets - great to snuggle up under if cold or tired.
  • First Aid Kit - the car first aid kit has more items than my mini one. It’s a kit that I bought and have added to over time based on what my family uses. 
  • Heat resistant snacks - the car can get very hot in the summer so any food left in it needs to be able to cope with the heat. My favourites are: a packet of biscuits (non-chocolate biscuits like Rich Tea, Hob Nobs, Fruit Shortcake, or in reality the Lidl version of these), crisps and breadsticks. 
  • Water - whether it’s to rinse something, for the car engine or to drink it’s worth having a few refillable bottles of water in the car. Remember to refresh them every few days whether or not they are used, especially if they might be used for emergency drinking water.
  • Sun hats and sunglasses - On a bright sunny day I will make sure we have sun hats with me, but sometimes my children suddenly decide the sun is too bright so it's useful to have a sunhat and sunglasses in the car. 
  • A sick bowl - One of my children gets travel sick so we always have a bowl just incase. Something with a lid (like an old popcorn bucket) can be extra useful. 
  • Portable potty - We used to love our My Carry Potty when my children were potty training and we would take it everywhere with us. It's great that it's easy to sit on and once you close it up it's sealed and secure until you can empty it. Our My Carry Potty now lives in the car in case of emergencies.

A picnic blanket folded up on grass
Win a picnic blanket for your days out with family this summer


Giveaway

I hope you find these days out packing lists helpful. If you are planning any days out this Summer then you might find a new picnic blanket helpful so I thought it would be nice to offer one to giveaway. You can win an extra large (2mx2m) picnic blanket which is big enough for our family of 5. Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below by midnight on Monday 22nd July, UK entry and over 16s only. (If the widget isn't showing you can enter by clicking here)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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