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What do you have in your day bag

All this talk of day bags has made me wonder...what does everyone carry around during the day when touring towns or cities? Not hiking or camping (where you may need to carry multiple meals and special gear), or moving between places where you need to have your entire suitcase with you. Just day-to-day touring when your suitcase with clothes and such is back in the hotel - what is in your day bag or purse with you?

I am of the opinion that I don't want to carry too much with me and go fairly light. But I want to have what I consider essentials. One could go lighter, or bagless (easier for those who wear men's clothes with the bigger pockets). However, other people seem to carry everything with them.

What's in my bag on an average day : DSLR camera and attached lens (no extra lenses), phone and small portable charger, money/credit card and ID, small bag with personal items (a few advil, tums, band aids, chapstick or lipstick, tissues, sunscreen), sunglasses, and earbuds. I may wear a jacket, scarf, or sweater at the beginning of the day and end up carrying it if it gets warmer.
Before my iphone I would have a map and guidebook, but those are now on the phone.

So - do you fall into the "be prepared and take everything you may need" camp or the "I'll be fine with 50 euros and my ID" camp?

Posted by
99 posts

I bring the same as you plus reading glasses, water bottle, and phrase book.

Posted by
11493 posts

About the same as you, all in a cross-body bag by Baggalini although often I include my iPad as that is my guidebook resource and I only use a point-and-shoot little Canon camera. I take an umbrella if it looks like rain, a bottle of water. Often my husband carries the iPad in his man bag so my purse is not so heavy. If we are expecting to log a lot of miles and especially if in the mountains, I use a true day pack backpack.

Posted by
16120 posts

About the same as all of you too except I don't put my ID, cash or card in my bag, and I always have tissues and Wet Wipes, a pen and tiny note pad and any tickets/reservation vouchers we'll need for the day. We'll split things up with me carrying the bigger camera + lens wipes and The Husband has the small one. One or the other of us carries the guidebook and a good map, and sometimes he carries his ipad. No phones.

We almost never return to a hotel from the time we leave one in the early morning until after dinner at night so we have to be prepared! Our shoulder bags are not really that large at all, though.

Posted by
6378 posts

I use an older (non-expandable) version of the Veloce Guide Bag, and wear it as a cross-body. I generally carry a change purse with enough cash for the day, a small notebook and pen, some aspirin or other OTC pain medication, DH's allergy pills, a compass, sometimes a small pair of binoculars, an emery board, some tissues, a phrasebook, and a city map. I also carry a small fabric shopping bag that folds up into itself. If we have reservations for something, I'll have the tickets or vouchers. In the hidden zipper part of the bag, I'll carry some extra cash, and, if I know I'm going to need to visit an ATM, a debit card.

DH carries our guide book, water bottles and windbreakers in his Civitá backpack, and a camera in his front pocket.

Posted by
4175 posts

I've always been in the less is more camp. I don't even carry water, preferring to take break where there is a toilet for something to drink.

In the past I've typically taken a cross-body purse like this and a mesh shopping bag for anything else. I put my phone and small portable charger, some money, emergency info, chapstick and tissues in the purse. It's amazing how much a tiny bag will hold.

I keep my credit and debit cards, driver license, passport, big money, etc. in my exceedingly comfortable money belt, under my clothes, of course.

However, because I had some difficulty on the Village Italy tour last summer, I'll be taking some kind of walking stick on my trip this summer. I won't need it all the time, so I'll be stowing it the packable day pack I recently bought. Considering that I may also need to wear or carry a warm jacket and a rain jacket, the day pack should come in handy. My challenge will be to keep all the "just in case" stuff out.

Posted by
2252 posts

Smiling, Lo at your post: "My challenge will be to keep all the "just in case" stuff out.". I have that same challenge. I carry what most of the rest of you do: my phone, tiny note pad, pen, sunglasses, small camera, map (usually from the hotel), kleenex (doubles as tp, if necessary), lip balm, small tube of sunscreen, earbuds for audio walking tours if needed. Also any activity confirmations, if I have something scheduled. I do also wear a money belt and that carries the important stuff I can't afford or don't want to lose.

Posted by
1311 posts

I use a Travelon cross-body bag which looks large in photos but doesn't feel that big walking around.
I will always carry a small wallet with driver's license, one credit card, and 50-70 euros which I can tether inside the bag.
I also will have a guide book, iPhone (which is also my camera), lipstick, tissues, glasses case, Tide-to-go stick, a nylon shopping bag, a tiny ziplock bag (with advil, aleve, callous cushions, and bandaids), and a small notebook. Depending on where I am, I might also have a small metro map.
In winter I have room for gloves and a crushable wool hat as well as an umbrella.
In warmer weather I carry a small water bottle and sunglasses.
If I need to, I can also usually fit a sweater or light-weight thin down jacket.
It seems like a lot but all of it is useful and made good use of most days.

Map, guidebook, compact first aid kit, flushable wipes, Kleenex packets, small bottle of hand sanitizer, luggage lock on zipper, possible bottle of water depending on location, light weight jacket or raincoat depending on weather, pen, iPad for photos, tickets, etc.. I try to pack only what I think I will need to keep bulk and weight down. I try not to be the family mule - however, it happens at times.

Posted by
1806 posts

Wallet w/ day's spending money (including some coins for public bathrooms) & credit card, iPhone (use this as my camera), portable phone charger, bottle of water, travel umbrella or sunglasses (depending what weather is supposed to be), lipstick, travel size hand sanitizer, tissues, small Moleskine notebook, pen, cigarettes, lighter, Chico Micro Bag that I can open up and use if I have to make a stop at a grocery store or other store where I need a shopping tote.

Posted by
277 posts

On a Spring trip to Rome, we weren't sure what the weather was going to be so I wore a lightweight rain coat and took a packable jacket and compact umbrella in my day bag to layer when the weather got cold and messy. I also take a small tripod for a few selfies with my compact digital camera using a timer.. (We like our selfies to be mostly the view and not our faces.) And, of course, our RS guidebook.

Posted by
1194 posts

I usually carry a cross body bag that is 10 x 12 x 3 inches. It contains:

  • Day wallet with a days worth of money and a credit card
  • smartphone & earbuds
  • light packable raincoat
  • light sweater
  • scarf
  • comb
  • sunglasses
  • spare glasses
  • contact lens case with solution
  • magnifying mirror

Optional (for long days):

  • collapsible water bottle
  • small pack of tissues
  • small power pack
Posted by
7464 posts

I’m a very light “daypack” person mainly because we reserve hotels in the middle of the historical section of town (location is #1), so we typically stop by the hotel a couple of times during the day for a quick break, grab a veggie or protein snack, etc. I carry a small Baggalini purse that holds my phone (use for camera), reading glasses, tickets, small amount of Euros, small map or info, lip balm and mints. If we need a beverage while we’re out, we’ll stop at a grocery store or we’ll sit at an outdoor cafe and enjoy the ambiance. We try to carry what we might have when we’re at our home city.

Passport, credit card, ATM and most Euros are in the money belt.

When it’s a hiking day, my husband carries a lightweight backpack with our raincoats or sweater, snacks, and two bottles of water.

Posted by
440 posts

For me a water bottle, some choccy, guidebook and a lightweight jacket because you never know when the weather may change. Also if I buy anything it goes in the day bag instead of using plastic bags.

Posted by
8655 posts

My day bag will have the minimum of what I think I will need that day - water bottle, tissue, sunscreen, sunglasses, camera, map, guidebook excerpts, rain jacket. Nothing that is irreplaceable, nor money or cards. Its easier than packing pockets in a jacket or shirt. But what Ceidleh and jayhamps noted is important - you might need a tote for anything you buy while out - snacks, postcards, souvenirs, wine bottle, etc., so I always take one.

Posted by
1221 posts

Wallet, iPhone, any necessary mass transit or attraction tickets, tissue, lip balm, small hand lotion, pack of tissues (if you're in France, the Carrefour house brand travel packs are nicer than Kleenex, IMO), even smaller first aid kit (really just a few band aids and alcohol wipes), hotel key or key card, sunglasses, DSLR camera, often a spare lens or two for Spousal Unit's DSLR camera, assorted brochures and attraction maps. If I've got a coat, it's one of those that folds into its own pocket and can be clipped to the outside of the bag.

Unless we're hiking in the woods, we buy water as needed rather than lugging a bottle around.

If we know we'll be grocery shopping, I've got a travel backpack that packs up into itself in about the size of a fist, and I'll throw it into my messenger bag.

Posted by
1450 posts

Others have listed all of the good stuff needed..... I need a collapsible hat (rosacea, which is finally under control and I'm not going backwards) and I'm carrying a flat collapsible water bottle. This time I'm using a piazza cross body from ebags. It already is my everyday carry, so I'm going to empty it out and be very disciplined about what goes back in. It weighs 14 ounces empty. It has a designated zip open water bottle side pouch, which is. Surprisingly well balanced w a 20 oz water bottle in it, but the collapsible water pouch in the middle compartment will be even more balanced. I used this bag and collapsible bottle for an impromptu 3 mile scramble between the sand dunes (accompanied by park ranger) to visit the sea lions. This is what I'm taking to Mexico next month to visit chichen itza. Plenty of room for one or two fold up grocery bags in case we need to hit the grocery store or fruit stand on the way back to our rental
Oh, and here's my answer to the posted elsewhere question regarding tide to go pens and do they need to be in the 311 bag....I keep it in the slot in my purse w a high lighter, a sharpie and 2 pens, and have never had a problem.

Posted by
2590 posts

It seemed like it took a while for this thread to mention 'snacks' !

I've been using the RS civita shoulder bag for the last year+ and one of the many things I like about it is that the main compartment zippers can be left (partially) open to use it tote-bag style, and have a full-size baguette sticking out.
I also carry some hand fruit and either granola or granola bars, maybe some locally bought biscuits or crisps, and some candy.

And having that on hand doesn't stop me from taking a break in a cafe when an urge for fondant or a savory snack strikes me.

I also like to have a local magazine or newspaper, or the events/travel section thereof, sticking out in order to signal my leisurely virtues.

Posted by
5697 posts

All of the above. Especially snacks, as avirosemail says. Civita bag goes on every trip, commutes into San Francisco, walks around the local lake.

Posted by
2349 posts

I don't keep money or phone in my bag. Tissues, extra reading glasses, lip balm, ibuprofen, etc. Since I like to read in a cafe or park, I take my Kindle if I'll be alone. If I'm with others that day it stays in the hotel.

And usually 2 fold up nylon bags. Do not be the family mule!! Every single time my husband asked to put something in my bag, I'd hand him a bag. It took a few years. but he no longer asks. "What, I can't put even one thing in your bag?" Nope.

Posted by
994 posts

In a city I will have maps and information on the places I am going and maybe a jacket and umbrella depending on the weather. I take a purse usually in a city. If I am going on a longer daytrip whee I will be away from my hotel for most of the day I take a small backpack and add water and snacks.

Posted by
12 posts

Great thread!

A phone charger is critical for me. My favorite is a small Anker that isn't too heavy but will recharge my phone a couple of times. We are heavy users of Google Maps while wandering cities and taking public transportation, and the GPS hits battery life hard.

A couple of other random items that haven't been mentioned yet:

  • A travel "spork" for that morning grocery store trip for yogurt
  • A clean and folded kitchen trash bag, for use as protection for wet benches, or in case of rain
Posted by
2633 posts

I carry a crossbody messenger bag--either a canvas one from Smoking Lily or a nylon one from LeSportsac. In addition to my typical purse items like makeup, reading and sunglasses, gum, tissues, phone--and I don't bring my usual wallet, instead a Coach wristlet that gets fastened and buried at the bottom of the purse but can be accessed by the strap when needed--there's plenty of room for a snack, guidebook, small notebook with trip info, sometimes a novel if I'm going on a train trip, laminated map, small camera, fold-up nylon shopping bag, a travel umbrella if warranted, and I can fit a light sweater inside, too. And always some bandaids and a small roll of foot tape.

I like to be prepared, having a snack with me has saved me from horrific grumpiness many times--I bring several Clif or Lara bars from home.

Posted by
5697 posts

Karen from Ft Wayne -- great idea about the nylon bags!! I always carry one, but hadn't thought to hand it to DH to carry "stuff" as he collects it.

I'm off to IKEA to buy a few more for the next trip. (99¢ with an IKEA Family card)

Posted by
16894 posts

Either a spork or a Rick Steves Picnic Set, plus a little collection of gelato spoons (trophies) that builds up as I go. Any advance tickets and reservations for the day, which won't necessarily be all on your phone.

For me, "50 euros and my ID" is usually just for going out to dinner, rather than for the day.

Posted by
3262 posts

I'm more in the "I'll be fine with 50 euros and my ID" camp. Here's my system: I always wear this travelon bag. It carries my passport, iPod, sometimes my backup battery pack...(the size of an iPod, but the name escapes me presently), a credit card, cash, and my various insurance/emergency information. My extra eyeglasses go in my pocket; i.e., sunglasses or regular glasses. I love traveling with just this small purse, and it is what I use daily at home. However, if my agenda calls for my DSLR when out for the day, I use my travelon backpack, which holds my camera with attached lens, backup battery and memory card. I'll then throw my extra eyeglasses in here. I'm also like Lo, in that I always have a small 1 x 2 inch folded bag with me somewhere and sometimes I leave the backpack behind and will put my camera in that if I don't want it out.

I gave up my money belt this trip! Loved that and don't believe I'll ever go back, at least in Europe. I'd gotten to the point that I only used it for organizing anyway. I just kept my backup separated in my personal item in transport and in my hotel room the rest of the time.

Also, like Lo, I never carry water, etc. I like reasons to stop for a drink and toilet.

Posted by
1625 posts

After a few trips I have zeroed in on my perfect day bag. I do a medium cross body bag, any bag I can find at Marshalls or TJ max, but since they carry pretty good brands I usually land up with a Kipling for under $20.00. The bag must have a top zipper and one big compartment. I carry everything most people mentioned including a small wallet with 1 Credit Card, 1 Debit card and 100€ and my drivers license (to leave if required to have an audio guide because I am not leaving my passport). I have also learned to take a small pack of tissue as I have encountered some nasty train station toilets in Italy and also a small bottle of hand sanitizer. As the day goes on I collect napkins, drink coasters, match boxes, hotel business cards and etc for mementos. At the end of each night I empty the bag, take all my mementos and souvenirs I may have purchased and pack those away then I repack for the next day to include any Tickets, guide book pages, directions etc, so I don't have to fuss in the morning and I can sleep better knowing I am prepared for the next day. When staying in an apartment, one of my rituals is to come home at the end of a long sight seeing day, get my happy clothes on (Comfy), make a cup of tea, sit at the dining room table and do my bag emptying and repacking.

Posted by
4595 posts

I am also a pack for the needs of that day type. However, I might do it over a glass of wine rather than a cup of tea :-). End of day take out receipts and tally up the expenditures of the day (if I am counting). Review next day's plans and adjust money to suit (I tend to not use my credit card for anything but big expeditures). Reorganize and repack for the next day's needs.
Very lightweight medium cross body bag. Zip top, large main body, but also one or two inside pockets - at least one with zips. If it isn't designed that way, I sew them in. Last trip I had a mesh zipped mini pouch from Travelon that I sewed in for my passport. Purse tends to have seatbelt fabric straps, so no cutting that in a hurry. If they slash the bottom, then all the important stuff is either in separate zip pockets, or clipped to small rings sewn into the purse. I bless being able to sew and McGyver things to suit my needs and level of security. Lately it is just my 'going to work' bag, so I know where everything is.
More and less of the things noted already - depending on where I am going and weather. One thing I carry that isn't common is binoculars. I am a bird watcher, and have a small set (less than 8 ounces). Also extremely handy for seeing art and ceiling details up close. Always a small notepad and pencil for noting birds seen, and sometimes a folding bird chart or birding list for the area. My smart phone gets used for my ereader, camera for Instagram images only (the rest taken with a 30X pocket camera), and usually has a local birding ID app on it. Even if my main goal is the art or architecture, I am easily distracted by bird life. I admit to being a bird geek. Still plenty of room for umbrella, sweater or jacket - depending....

Posted by
125 posts

I'm taking my first overseas trip in Sept. and I plan on packing a small backpack for our small hikes and bike rides and my purse is a cross body bag (not to be carried at the same time). On an average day out I plan on carrying:

  • water bottles -phone (has maps/gps/google translate, etc)
  • sunglasses -light sweater (if needed) -personal lady things (chapstick, lipstick, eye drops, lotion, etc) -small snack (on a special diet)

I guess it depends on where we are headed that day.....definitely not in the "just in case" category....except when we climb the Zugspite, then the first aid kit and all that comes along. lol

Posted by
104 posts

Great thread!

I carry everything in my Victorinox bag. It's no longer available at Amazon, but it's a nice bag, with slash proof strap. I usually carry my neck pouch by Travelon (also no longer available) to carry my passport, money, credit cards, etc. I carry a magnifying glass around my neck. I'll carry a small water bottle, tissues, medications, small Nikon w300 waterproof camera, my iPad (for photos and also wifi) and Google Translate, my phone and a pen/index cards.