What’s In My Bag: Summer Edition (with Free Printables!)

beach bag
Beach Bag Stock photos by Vecteezy

Summer is upon us! That means lots of outdoor adventures.

Full disclosure: I am forgetful by nature. Add kids to the mix and, oh dear…

I’ve learned to be nice to Future Me by preparing ahead of time. These lists have developed through lots of trial and error. But after 5 years of being a mom, I’m getting really good at this! My kids are currently 5 and 3, so you may have other needs depending on ages, stages, and preferences. But here are several lists of what I pack in my bags for spending the summer with my kids.

Summer Essentials Pouch:

These are my ride-or-die items in every summer bag because they have been crucial to any successful outing. Thankfully, all but the water bottles can fit in a pouch to throw in my purse. I’ve also been known to keep them in a super stylish fanny pack (ha!) But seriously, I have no shame because then I’m hands-free!

  • Basic First Aid kit
    • Bandaids
    • Neosporin (I like the little spray kind)
  • Wet wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Masks (if you and your kids haven’t been vaccinated yet)
  • Sunscreen (for my Pouch I usually carry a 3 oz. bottle or a stick)
  • Sunglasses
  • Plastic shopping bag (for trash, wet clothes, etc.)
  • Chapstick (with SPF)
  • Water bottles
  • Travel size baby powder (to get the sand off sticky hands and toes and to help with any chafing when kids are either wet or sweaty)

Car/Stroller Stock Ideas:

This is a pretty extensive list, but all of these items have been super handy to have.

  • Extra clothes (for each of us, including all the things–underwear, socks, sweatshirts, etc. You never know when someone will have an accident, fall in a puddle, get cold, spill their coffee…)
  • Box of tissues
  • Wipes
  • Diapers/pull-ups
  • Snacks (always!)
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunhats 
  • Sunglasses
  • Bug spray (So important to prevent mosquito and tick bites that can spread disease)
  • Blanket (great for impromptu picnics or if it’s colder than you’re expecting)
  • Towel (super helpful if there is a puddle at the bottom of the slide, spill cleanup…)
  • More complete First Aid kit
    • Different size bandaids
    • Sterile gloves
    • Tweezers 
    • Basic medicine (children’s pain reliever, allergy medicine, upset tummy stuff…)
    • Ginger chews (work for a little upset tummy or as a helpful bribe to get back in the car)
    • Anti-itch cream
    • Mini vaseline 
    • Eyedrops
    • Emergency ice pack
    • Gauze/tape
    • Thermometer 
  • Car charger or battery pack to juice up your phone while you’re out
  • Cooler/insulated bag (can throw cold snacks or drinks in, or groceries and not need to rush home quite as fast since littles usually aren’t speedy when we need them to be)
  • Plastic bags or wet/dry bags (for trash, wet clothes, throwing snacks or sunscreen in, etc.)
  • Ziplock baggies (seems random, but I’ve needed these so many times for bagging up leaking bottles, putting snacks in, organizing small stuff like crayons, etc.)
  • Car/stroller entertainers
    • Small toys
    • Books
    • Colored pencils or twistable crayons (so they don’t melt!)
    • Paper
    • Brainteasers

Summer Play Bag:

I’ve found bringing a few toys can help extend play for hours when we’re out and about.

Bag of sand toys

  • Sand toys (shovels, dump trucks, and diggers, small buckets)
  • Dollar store/garage sale toys like little dinosaurs, dolls, vehicles
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Bubbles
  • Balls or Frisbee
  • Rainboots (for me and kids–you never know when there will be some mud puddles out on adventures and I’d rather say “yes” to the experience but still not have to deal with soggy shoes)
  • Squirters 
  • Portable hammock 
  • Bluetooth speaker

Beach/Pool Bag:

I use a mesh bag for these items so that any sand will fall out and wet things will dry faster.

  • Sunscreen 
  • Spf chapstick
  • Baby powder
  • Sunhats
  • Sunglasses
  • Swimsuits 
  • Towels (I’ve discovered Turkish beach towels and they save so much space and drying time!)
  • Water shoes or flip flops
  • Water bottles
  • Snacks
  • Floaties/life jacket (if allowed)
  • Goggles
  • Toys (if allowed)
  • Beach blanket 
  • Change of clothes for everyone
  • All in one shampoo/body wash (I usually pack a travel bottle of baby shampoo since it’s tear-free and gentle)
  • Cell phone baggie (either a ziplock bag or a watertight pouch)
  • Wet/dry bag or plastic grocery bag for wet stuff 
  • Earplugs (one of my kids has tubes so I can’t forget these)

Summer Diaper Bag:

My kids are out of diapers, but we have a little one on the way, so I’ll be diving back into that life soon.

  • Diapers (I try to have 2 in a diaper clutch and keep extras in the larger bag or car/stroller)
  • Wipes (small pack in clutch plus extras in larger bag or car/stroller)
  • Extra clothes (for baby and me!)
  • Water bottles (for baby and me!)
  • Snacks (for baby and me!)
  • Diaper cream 
  • Disposable bags (for stinky diapers or wet clothes)
  • Muslin/cotton blanket (for a nursing cover, keeping the sun off, if it’s chilly, etc.)
  • Baby safe sunscreen
  • Sunhat 
  • Breathable wrap or baby carrier
  • Small misting water bottle (for refreshing and cooling)
  • Bib (if baby is a drooler or eating solids)
  • Paci (if that’s your kid’s thing)
  • Teether and/or toys
  • Portable potty chair/seat (for the potty training stage)

I hope seeing these lists helps inspire you to be prepared and kind to Future You! 

Do you have a go-to item in your summer bag? Please share your wisdom with us!

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Olivia grew up just outside of Cedar Rapids in Mount Vernon, IA. She moved to Pella, IA for undergrad and loved working in the library, so she continued her education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned her Masters of Library and Information Science. She originally intended to be a higher ed librarian, but an internship at a public library working with kids convinced her to change her plans. After 9 years working as a full time children’s librarian, Olivia is now embarking on an exciting new chapter as a full time mama.