table with items for family outing

School Holiday Survival Guide: Everything You Need To Pack For A Family Day Out

Published: 27/07/2021

Everyone loves a spontaneous family day out in the summer. Picnics by the riverside, swims in the sea, walks around your local beauty spots and countryside… we can’t think of anything better! 

With school holidays kicking off for many kids up and down the country this week, now is the perfect time to start planning your al fresco adventures and revel in all the excitement this sunny season has to offer! Whether you’re armed with a band of fun-loving tots, or require some inspo for the *ahem* temperamental teenagers in your life, coming prepared with everything you need will make for a fun and relaxing trip - and that’s exactly what this blog aims to help with. 

Explore our checklist of the ultimate outdoor essentials and get ready to make the most of warmer weather today. After all, time spent with family is worth every second!

Preparation is the key to success… plus zero stress and mess!

homework

Young children are full of energy and demand constant stimulation, which is why preparation can make all the difference when it comes to seasonal days out. The casual ‘let’s just rock up and see what happens’ probably won’t work if your little ones are especially lively and vivacious, so spend some time (as a family) planning and writing down a variety of ideas for the excursions you’re keen to try. For the summer months especially, picnics, sporty afternoons, orienteering activities, scenic walks, and nature trails can all make for wonderful expeditions - no matter their age.

Before you set out, be sure to print any directions, plot the route on your GPS, and secure your in-car entertainment. This can save so much time when it comes to travel, not to mention stopping the inevitable “are we there yet?” speech! Investigate any options that may prevent you from queuing at popular attractions and beauty spots, such as advance booking or purchasing timed tickets for top theme park rides. If you’re on a budget, packed lunches, cool drinks, and snacks will be an absolute must (particularly if your teenager is prone to devouring the entire contents of the fridge), so be sure to bring some sustenance supplies, too.

Essentials for every family

child packing essentials

Perhaps the most essential item on any parent’s list is the trusty rucksack. Capable of carrying everything from spare clothes to spades, these utter lifesavers will help you to transport all but the kitchen sink on your next family outing. What’s more, they’re super lightweight and convenient, which can save you a lot of trouble in the lower back department! Models with chest straps and a plethora of handy extra features, like water bottle holders, waterproof compartments, and charging stations, are the most accessible and advantageous.

In addition to your backpack though, there are a number of other items that are certainly worth exploring if mucky hands and grazed knees are a frequent occurrence on day trips. Browse the list below to complete your summer survival checklist.

  • Wet wipes: Great for spills, mid-meal messes, handwashing, car cleaning, and toilet pit stops, these versatile sheets are a must-have in any handbag or knapsack
  • Spare change for parking: Super handy for when your purse is thoroughly devoid of coins, and particularly useful if the nearest parking meter lacks app payment or contactless functions. 
  • Antibacterial gel: In light of the Covid pandemic, it’s always best to come equipped with a plethora of cleansing products, especially if your little ones are using playground apparatus.
  • First aid products: Ideal for slips, trips, scratches, and scrapes, these little kits can be invaluable when exploring the great outdoors. If you don’t have enough room in your rucksack, just the fundamentals will do. Plasters, Calpol sachets, microporous tape, and hay fever tablets are among the most important. 
  • Plastic or reusable bag: One of the most easily forgotten items on a day out with family, these practical accessories can play host to a number of functions in the summer (bin, wet clothes holder, ad-hoc lunchbox, car seat liner, and emergency waterproof combined). 
  • Towel: Fab for clean-ups, dry-offs, and even as a blanket, particularly at the beach. 
  • Pyjamas: If you’re planning on continuing the festivities until bedtime, an extra set of PJs could make the car-to-bedroom transfer even more seamless and fuss-free. 
  • Cooler bag: The stress-free solution to warm water and humid ham sandwiches! Comfortable to carry and simple to store, cooler bags and boxes are certainly worth having in your activity arsenal. 

For the tiny tots

baby running

Despite what you may initially think, babies are actually rather easy to accommodate on a day out with the family. Unlike their older siblings, tiny tots don’t require as much verbal stimulation or enthusiasm throughout the day, leaving you free to enjoy the sights of your summer walk or picnic… until their nappy needs changing, of course! Browse our infant checklist below to help you (and your newborn) enjoy a tranquil trip this sunny season.

  • Spare clothes: Extra baby clothes can be extremely handy to have when out and about with your youngster. Best of all, they can be rolled into small bundles and easily packed away within your pram or rucksack too – bonus! For chillier evenings out, be sure to wrap up (no pun intended!) an additional warm layer, like a cardigan, or something similar. 
  • Nappies and wipes: Changing supplies are vital and shouldn’t be overlooked, especially if you’re going to be out for longer periods of time. Bags, mats, and caddies can make your life much easier if there aren’t any public toilets nearby. 
  • Breastfeeding supplies: Again, imperative to remember if you’re nursing. Muslin cloths and covers can be helpful to have in busier settings, so your little one is always catered for.
  • Hat and baby sunscreen: This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but there truly is nothing more important than infant sun protection. Car window shades are also worth a glance, particularly if you’re heading off on longer journeys. 
  • Sling: A sling saves time, increases accessibility, and opens up so many opportunities for slightly more unconventional days out and excursions. Keen to go on a countryside walk that isn’t pram-friendly? No problem… you can now venture anywhere you want (caves, boats, and beaches alike)! Plus, there’ll be no queuing for lifts or waiting for an emptier bus!

Toddler tackle

toddler walking with parent

Children, particularly younger tots, tend to have very short attention spans and frantic bursts of energy, all while demanding frequent snack breaks and toilet trips at the most unexpected of moments. We’ve all been there… “but I didn’t need it when we left the house”! To prevent your day from turning into a potty-related disaster, explore the list of toddler tackle below and never worry about baby boredom again. You can thank us later!

  • Nappies and wipes: Like babies, your toddlers are likely to need a few nappy changes over the course of the day, so be sure to come prepared. 
  • Potty training supplies: To avoid any mishaps, you should pack all the potty training essentials you might need, depending on your tot’s age and experience. 
  • Toddler books and toys: These can be fab boredom busters in the car or on walks combined. Scooters are great for the majority of outdoor trips, while the conventional bucket and spade is almost a prerequisite at the beach. Don’t forget to give it a special tap!
  • Spare lightweight clothing: Unisex options can be a good choice here. Items like tracksuit bottoms, plain t-shirts, and jumpers can be worn by anyone, and will help to leave your clan feeling cosy after a day of running and splashing. It’s always a good idea to leave an extra pair of clothes in the car too, for when you return home at the end of the day.
  • Waterproof mac and trousers: Waterproofs are great to have throughout the year, as your little one is sure to make the most of it come rain or shine (after all, we never can trust the British weather!). In the warmer months, a lightweight coat and pair of trousers will allow your kids to enjoy jumping in puddles or impromptu water and sand play. 
  • Easy snacks for kids: Snacks and packed lunches are a MUST. Especially handy for those that are on a budget, pre-prepared food will certainly help you to save cash on all those expensive kiosks and, perhaps most importantly, can be a great distraction for toddlers when travelling. Healthy examples include rice cakes, popcorn (if they’re over the age of four), and yogurt pots. If you’re munching on the go, be sure to invest in a disposable bib, too. 
  • Hat and sunscreen: Again, a crucial element to remember. Sun protection is vital in hot weather, so encourage your tots to stay in the shade and keep them covered up. 

For the big kids

kids with dad

Older children and teenagers are notoriously tricky to entertain, particularly when days out don’t involve some form of online stimulation. If you’re keen to get your big kids off those devices and into the great outdoors, try something new as a family. Thrilling heights and exhilarating speeds can be found across the UK’s fantastic range of zip wires and high ropes courses, for example. Or, if they’d prefer something closer to earth, how about a safari park, beach trip, countryside picnic, or water sports experience? Pushing each other out of your comfort zones can be a fantastic way to bond, especially when trialling something none of you have done before, so strap on those harnesses and prepare for some fun in the sun. It’s going to be the best summer yet!

  • Vouchers: Always double-check for vouchers and coupons before embarking on your next adventure to save money on tickets and admission prices. 
  • Picnic accessories: Outdoor meals are a wonderful way to spend time together as a family. Personal, intimate, and relaxed, they offer a fab opportunity to catch-up over canapes, and provide a versatile base for outdoor sports like football, cricket, and badminton. If you need some help planning the perfect picnic, explore our recent blog on the art of al fresco dining. Providing recommendations on everything from ham-crammed hampers to serveware, it’s the comprehensive guide you didn’t know you needed.
  • Water sports: If your day is likely to involve boating, swimming, or surfing, it’s definitely worth prepping ahead of time. Beaches are the perfect place to try a plethora of new and exciting water sports, so consider journeying to the sand this summer if you’re keen for a splash of something new. 
  • Sunscreen: The most important item on anyone’s checklist. If you or your children are especially prone to burns, be sure to pack some good-quality after sun, too. 

Your summer survival guide… sorted!

parents taking kids out

And that’s it… your summer holiday survival guide has reached its conclusion. But, much like your fantastic adventures to come, this is only the beginning! We hope you’ve enjoyed our mini introduction to all the essentials you’ll need this upcoming sunny season, and now feel better equipped to treat your little treasures during the holidays. Despite foreign travel looking rather unlikely this year, we think that day trips and staycations are among the most memorable of excursions, so there’s truly never been a better time to delight in all that the UK has to offer. 

Should you require more information on all the excitement that summer has to bring, why not explore our extensive blog and buyer’s guide resources? Packed full of awesome activity ideas and product recommendations galore, you’re sure to find everything you’re looking for on our fully stocked online shelves. Whether you’re searching for a way to entertain the whole family, are at a loose end when it comes to al fresco ideas, or simply require some guidance in the world of blasters and bouncy castles, we’ve certainly got you covered. 

All that’s left to say is… enjoy! It’s set to be the best summer holiday on record!

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