Getting out for adventures as a family is easier if you can prepare in advance. Packing adventure day bags ahead of time that are “grab and go” is a great way to speed up your exit and make sure you don’t forget things you need for various outings!
The links below may be affiliate links, meaning I earn a small compensation at no extra cost to you. See my full disclosure policy here.
I have always been a “bag lady” when it comes to packing for trips. I love organizing and sorting into various tote bags, baskets, etc. As we prepare for a new “adventure season” full of trips to parks, rivers, beaches, mountains, and more, I have been considering how I can make getting out the door this year even easier and more streamlined.
I came up with two solutions– adventure day bags and a “Get Out the Door Checklist”.
Read about how I packed each of my adventure day bags below, and get a free copy of my new checklist at the bottom of this post.
If you also enjoy adventuring and getting outdoors as a family, check out my Family Adventuring page with mom hacks, more packing lists, easy menu ideas, and more.
Adventure Day Bags
Taking into account the kinds of adventures we most regularly had last year, I decided to make three bags that we could literally just grab and go on the way out the door. I made a sports related bag for the park, a hiking bag with gear for exploring, and a beach & water bag for water days.
Each bag is packed in a clear zippered tote that is the perfect size for containing just enough essentials for the variety of activities we like to do best. I used these totes at the beach last year and they held up wonderfully, so I ordered a third one this year to make our adventure day bags.
The bags are stored right by the door in a storage bench/ottaman that I found at Target. I also keep my favorite backpack for adventure days in the bench, along with a few other small items we often need on the way out. I love having everything ready to go without adding to a lot of visual clutter by the door.
I unpacked each bag to show you exactly what is currently inside. I do not think there will be many changes to the bags since I based the contents on hours of adventuring last year, but I’m sure there will be small additions here or there as we get through spring and summer.
Of course, this is meant to be just a starting point for you to take this idea and make it your own. Don’t focus too much on getting everything perfect right at the beginning. The more you get out, the more you know exactly what your own family needs for different outings.
(If you want to follow along and get tons more adventuring inspiration, tips, and hacks, be sure to be following me on Instagram! I share regular posts and stories there).
Our park bag is for playground/field parks. While my older kids do still play on playgrounds, they also like to have other options of things to do while their younger siblings play. We are also doing more team games with friends like ultimate frisbee, jackpot, and more. I bought a pack of jerseys to better help distinguish between teams for these games occasionally too.
Similarly, if the big kids are occupied playing games with their friends, having options like bubbles and travel games to keep the littles occupied is also helpful.
- scrimmage vests for games (ultimate frisbee, capture the flag, kickball, two-hand touch football, etc)
- small bubbles
- small nerf football
- ball pump
- play parachute toy
- travel tic-tac-toe/checkers game
Our hiking bag is one that wouldn’t be carried on the hike itself, but is usually in corralling items we regularly use on hikes. I consider the water bottle slings essential because everyone is able to easily carry their own water, without also needing to take a backpack. The slings from Walker Family Goods are also favorites on hikes for keeping up with found treasures or small items the kids want to take on hikes. (I actually just ordered myself a sling as well so I don’t need to borrow my kids’ slings).
Additional items that are helpful are field guides (love our easy-to-pack and durable Sibley’s guides), a hiking activity for littles, pocket knives, a just-in-case kite, and something I’ve found to be very helpful as my kids get older, walkie talkies.
- foldable, laminated nature guides
- interactive outdoor game (we have bingo cards, but these outdoor scavenger cards look really fun too!)
- water bottle slings (we use these with our 32oz Hydrocell water bottles)
- slings (for big kids and little kids) (our favorites are from Walker Family Goods— use THISPILGRIMLIFE15 for 15% off)
- walkie talkies (so handy for big kids who want to explore more or might get separated)
- pocket knife, waterproof matches, pocket microscope
- pocket kite
- binoculars (not pictured, but on my list to add)
Spending time at beaches and watering holes (creeks, rivers, & lakes) are one of our most favorite spring and summer adventures. Water itself is sufficient, but having a few basic items can keep kids occupied longer and help them explore/play in more ways. I’m very excited about these collapsible buckets that fit in the bag. Goggles always stay together in a smaller zipper bag, which helps tremendously in not losing them. Frisbees are fun for sifting sand/water, and for making sand pies/cakes. Nets are a must, as is a small towel.
- zipper bag with goggles and sand toys
- collapsible buckets for sand, water, fish/minnows/frogs
- sand shovels
- frisbees (perfect for making sand cakes, scooping water, etc)
- compact microfiber towel
- nets for fishing, minnows, and more
- pocket tote bag (in case of wet clothes or other dirty things to contain)
- small holder of trash bags (personally, I find pet poop bags the perfect size for outings and picnics. I have rolls in my cooler bag, backpack, and adventure totes)
- bar of soap in a box
- rechargeable fan
- folding table (love having this on beaches)
Adventure Tote for the Car
Besides the adventure day bags that stay inside, I also have a packed basket that stays in the car with items that we either need to have handy on every adventure (first aid kit, snacks, picnic blanket, chair), or simply are easier/more convenient to store in the car (floats, larger nets, disc golf bag).
- compact ultralight folding camp chair
- pocket-size picnic blacket
- first aid kit
- snack bag
- zipper bag of travel games
- round floats for everyone (I keep them deflated in an extra large zipper bag)
- large net
- disc golf bag & discs
The snack bag is packed with snacks that keep well in the car, are fun and tasty, but still healthy and nutritious. When we are out on adventures, I do not limit snacks too much because I know adventuring makes us all hungry. But I do try to make sure we have snacks on hand that replenish strength and energy.
Get Out the Door Checklist
One area I’m hoping to improve in this adventure season is training my kids to help even more in the preparation for adventure days. Already they do great contributing to what needs to be done, but I created this checklist to help them be able to take care of tasks without specific instruction from me.
I organized the checklist according to things that need to be done every time we go out, special tasks or additions depending on the activity, and I also included a smaller list of things that stay in the car, but that will remind me to just be sure they are still there before we go out.
In addition to the general things I included, I left a few blanks to add other things I did not think of. I laminated the checklist and put it on the back of the door we use to leave. We will use dry erase markers to check off what has been completed, and I can circle the extra things that need to be done that day.
I’m sharing this printable in hopes that some of y’all might also find it helpful this season in getting out the door. I know it cannot be completely comprehensive, but I hope it is helpful!
As always, I hope that I can help other families experience more adventures together with less fuss and less stress. If you use a similar adventure bag system this year, or make use of the Get Out the Door Checklist, I’d love to see! Please share and tag me @thispilgrimlife on Instagram, or send me a picture!