My Must-Haves for Nearly Any Trip


The post immediately preceding this one highlighted my tips for packing. In that post I also introduced the idea that I have gone on my fair share of trips, varying in length, purpose, and method of travel.

Day trips in my past have included Yosemite Valleyhiking Yosemite Fallsthe Lewis Creek Trail, and Tuolumne Meadows. Longer trips have included the Diamond Celebration at Disneyland, Dapper Day at Disneyland, Maddy’s graduation from Baylor and our road trip to Arizona, exploring Redwoods National & State Parks, and Disneyland for my 24th birthday.

Not included in blog posts to date, I have gone on trips to Spain, spent a couple of weekends in Oregon, been to the Grand Canyon twice, seen Zion, and made 4 round-trip loops from Central California to Northern Colorado.

Through all of those (and many more) adventures, there has always been a standard packing list. As I get closer to preparing for my next Disney trip with my grandmother and mom, this list is coming right back out.

Disney list blue name
Standard packing list I use for Disneyland trips – typically only minor modifications need to be made for other trips

There are always the obvious pieces – appropriate clothing, toiletries, chargers, and the like. With all of those items on my lists, there are a few staple items, some of which may seem secondary, but are versatile and durable necessities.

My “must-haves” for any trip:


  1. Some kind of nutrition bar/snack – if you’re anything like me (or the other humans I know) snacking between meals is somewhat necessary, and at a certain point you could get hangry. Well chosen snacks are easy to carry and will be durable enough to last the trip they’re bought for, and maybe the next!
  2. First Aid basics – this one seems very intuitive, but there are specific items I keep with me that fall into this category. Athletic tape and alcohol based wipes are the two things I always have with me, even when I’m not on a trip. Ibuprofen, Advil, or some other over-the-counter pain reliever is a good idea, too.
  3. Chapstick – for the most part this one is self explanatory. I prefer to choose a chapstick that has a little SPF, too.
  4. Sunscreen – even when it doesn’t seem important, it’s still usually necessary. I’ve gotten the worst burns of my life on overcast days. Moreover, there are many medications and facial products that greatly increase your skin’s sensitivity to burning, and it’s not worth the repercussions.
  5. Sunglasses – these are always good to have. Despite that, I’m bad about remembering to grab them unless they’re my prescription sunglasses (and my mom even had to remind me about them for this post).
  6. Water – be it a reservoir type vessel, bottles (reusable or “single” use variety), on the go purifier, whatever. In many cases, my personal preference is my Healthy Human stein water bottle. Always err on the side of caution with this one – never assume water is easily accessible wherever you’re going. Also, if the trip is longer, think about the group’s needs when planning this one.
  7. Personal items – prescribed medications, hygiene items, extra contact lenses or backup glasses.. really anything that you need to get through the average (or not so average) day. This is where tampons, pads, wet wipes, and things like that fit in.
  8. Camera – ok, so this one doesn’t make it on every trip, but it always makes the short list of things I need to honestly weigh bringing or leaving at home. Nowadays, cell phone cameras can easily act as a substitute. I grew up in a family that took pictures all the time, and now that loved ones have passed, I’m very thankful that they did so. No exaggeration, we have thousands of negatives from the 90’s, hundreds of smaller discs (in diameter) from an older camera, and now, we have multiple terabyte external hard drives that house all of our images since getting cameras that use SD cards.

These must-haves may seem more like categories, but that’s by design. Everyone will have to tailor them differently, but hopefully they can provide a good starting place when making sure you grab those less-thought-of essentials!

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