How to Pack the Perfect Summer Adventure Bag

adventure bag green

This basket may not look like much, but it holds the key to my summer sanity.

Those extra socks and tattered old towels? On a philosophical level, they help me bridge the gap between the parent I am and the parent I want to be. More practically, they give me tools to clean up my kiddos after a routine trip to the park turns to mud-pie making or another such unexpected filth generator.

I first got the idea for a summer car kit from Martha Stewart. But as I am in neither her tax bracket nor her time of life, I don’t actually need to gear out my Subaru for spontaneous antiquing trips. Instead, I’ve tricked out my kit to address all the issues we encounter during day-tripping and errand-running. It’s like a diaper bag for the next stage of parenting.

When my kids have an awesome idea for spontaneous summer fun, I want to be the kind of mom who moves forward with an enthusiastic “yes!” And yet, so often I give a short-tempered “no” because I’m bogged down by all the logistics that would be involved. The adventure bag is one way I address that response. I stock the bag/basket to preemptively address all the issues I can anticipate while adventuring with my wild little ankle biters. The bag has always been regionally influenced (translation: our Pacific Northwest weather is… capricious). I also change what I stock according to the kids’ ages and stages (6 and 3 this summer, both chronically incapable of staying clean).

Here’s what’s currently in my car:

In my trunk, I keep…

  • A full outfit for each child (underwear, bottoms, tops, socks, shoes, and hoodie)
  • A blanket (perfect for picnics, warming up, creating shade and/or privacy)
  • 1 or 2 towels (for drying off wet children and/or rain-drenched playground equipment)
  • sunscreen (yes, I know it loses effectiveness in a hot car… but compromised sunscreen is better than none at all if I happened to forget at home!)
  • at least one plastic bag, garbage bag, or re-purposed diaper wet bag (contain their dirty clothing after the filthy fun)

Up front, I keep…

  • baby wipes and Kleenex in the drivers’ side door (I’m constantly addressing unexpected messes and snotty sneezes while driving)
  • small bottles of water (I hate when the kids end up wasting water in a bigger bottle… I also try to remember their canteens, but these are around just in case I forget)
  • non-perishable kid snacks (if the snacks are not prepackaged, I keep them in 4-oz mason jars with plastic lids. Again, I often try to pack a lunch but this is great for if I forget… or if an ostensibly short jaunt morphs into something unexpected.)
  • sunglasses for the kids (being Pacific Northwesters, they’re somewhat vampire-like in their sun sensitivity…)
  • an engaging book and/or small, inexpensive toy for each kid (keep in reserve for if they get super whiny)

That’s it on my end, though I’ve considered adding a Frisbee, soccer ball, or wiffle bat set for spontaneous trips to the park. The final step of creating a functional adventure bag is, of course, to make sure it stays stocked. If you use a snack or rotate out some clothes, be sure to replace the item as soon as possible! (This is hard for me. I can’t tell you how many times Little Bro has spent half the day in his much taller sister’s rolled-up pants because I didn’t restock his clothes…)

Thanks for reading, fellow parents and caregivers! I’d love to hear from you. What do you keep in your adventure bag? 



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s