What’s In My Bag? Day Trip Edition

Dear Excited-But-Most-Likely-Overwhelmed-Traveler,

Congratulations on your impending travels! Whether you are studying abroad or treating yourself to some much needed short-term adventuring, you’re most likely as overwhelmed as I tend to be right before I do some serious wandering. One of the best ways to explore the area around you is to do a day trip. Simply put, you’ll leave your home in the morning and collapse into your bed that night. No need to pack any underwear or toiletries! You don’t have to spend money on a hostel or AirBnB! Adventure is right outside your front door!

I’m currently studying abroad in Scotland, a country that is a lot smaller than I originally thought. Luckily I can do a lot of traveling from my home base using trains and buses. Aside from doing typical planning, it’s easy to forget what you need to bring with you… the dreaded “essentials.” Through lots of mistakes and a long process of trial and error, I finally have day trip packing down to a science (I think)!


Ta-da! Not so bad, right? Here’s a detailed list of necessary items to bring with you on a day trip!

Trusty Bag 

I’ve used different bags and backpacks for travel over the years, but this one is definitely my favorite. It’s simple, durable, and supportive. Having a bag that the strap can lay across your chest instead of on your shoulder is more comfortable and better for your shoulders and back. I’m partial to the satchel bag, since it has easy access and pockets. I’ve considered using a backpack, but having something behind me makes me nervous about pick-pockets.

I bought this bag at ModCloth two years ago. Sadly, they don’t carry it in stock anymore, but this type of bag is easy to find. Make sure it has a broad and sturdy strap, zippered top, and lots of pockets. Invest in a good bag and it’ll pay itself over many times!

Head here to check out some possible travel mates.

DSLR Camera

While you may not NEED this, if you already own a DSLR you should always bring it with you on day trips. Don’t convince yourself that your phone can handle those close shots or landscapes: it won’t!

Make sure you have a charged battery and a spacious SD card with class 10 quality. Nothing is worse than worrying about a dying camera or having to delete precious photos to make more space.

If you’re looking to invest in a beginner DSLR, the Canon Rebel series is fantastic. I’ve had a Canon Rebel T2i for five years and I love it. Again, invest and expect a wonderful and long-lasting return!


Duh. Don’t forget this baby, especially since it carries all the most important stuff. If you have a student ID, bring that too! I’ve found student discounts in the most unexpected places.


 Bring some local currency with you, as some places might not accept cards (though rare nowadays). I find it helpful to have cash in hand instead of just relying on my card for budgeting purposes. It reminds me that I really don’t need to buy an overpriced souvenir or eat an expensive lunch.

National Membership 

Depending on where you live or plan to travel, look into different memberships that allow you access into museums, castles, historical sites, and more. This Historic Scotland membership cost me £39 for one year. It’s already paid for itself with three castle visits. 


Perfect for noisy public transportation or listening to an audio tour. I made the mistake of leaving these behind the first two day trips I made and really regretted it. Plus, they don’t take up much space!

External Battery

Best invention ever for millennial travelers. My dear mom bought this for me since I travel often. I’ve thanked her many times for it, don’t worry! You can find one of these in most tech stores or online for reasonable prices. Make sure to get one that lasts for multiple charges and has several USB ports (and don’t assume you’ll find an outlet). It’s much more convenient to charge while you’re walking places and sight-seeing. I use this one.

Water Bottle

Depending on how luxe you want to get, you can get one of these bad boys pretty much anywhere for a variety of prices. I bought mine at Primark for £1 and it came with an insert that you freeze to keep your water cold. Stay hydrated! Don’t go anywhere without your water bottle.


This one is obvious. Don’t forget it! Use it for maps, TripAdvisor, public transportation times, buying tickets, Wikipedia, and (most frequently) “coffee shops near me.”


This totally depends on where you are, but in rainy and chilly Scotland, it’s kind of a must. Replace this as needed with sunglasses or a hat if need be!


Not Pictured:


Packing some yummy snacks saves you time and money when you travel. No need to pack your pantry, but an apple and some almonds can tide you over until you find a place to eat. Simple and smart!

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And there you have it! 10 simple necessities that will make you feel prepared and more confident in your travels. Make some tweaks depending on your location and climate, such as an umbrella for rainy weather or gloves for winter. Trust me, you’ve got this!

What’s your must-have item you bring on day trips? Comment below and I might just start adding it to my list!

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Kendall Varin

I'm a native Idaho girl who decided to branch out from my roots in the Pacific Northwest. The last autumn semester of my senior year I was very studious (and slightly adventurous) in Scotland. Having lived six places in the last two years, I don't plan to stop there. I'm convinced my life’s purpose is to meet and love as many people from all over the world as I can. Follow my blog as I post about confidently traveling solo, studying literature in a different country, and how little it takes to truly feel at home! For a little Scottish appreciation, make sure to check out my Instagram too!

One comment

  1. Sounds good! I always used to forget about my national membership cards. But, now I usually carry a bigger wallet so I can keep the passes in there. Great tips.

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