How to Pack Bags for Frequent Activities


Now that we’re in the heart (and heat) of the summer, most of us are really on the move! Not only are we traveling more, but we are likely also headed to the pool, summer camp, rehearsal, sports practice, hiking or biking, and the gym, among others. Most of these activities require you to bring along supplies of some sort. Don’t you hate remembering at the last minute that you need to bring something but you can’t find it? How about arriving for an activity only to find out that you’ve forgotten something essential? Moments like this sure can turn a relaxing summer day into a stressful one quickly. How can you be assured that you will always arrive to these activities on time with everything you need? By planning ahead and organizing, of course! Here are my top suggestions for packing bags for frequent activities:

    • Get a bag for each person for each activity. If you have 3 children who each participate in a different sport or activity, all 3 children need a different bag. Even if more than one child participates in the same activity, they each need their own bag. Not only will this assure that every person has what they need, but it will also allow each child to take responsibility for their own belongings.
    • Pick the perfect bag. For most activities, a simple tote bag should suffice, but some activities require a special bag. Golf is a perfect example of this. If your child (or you) have participated in an activity for several years, it’s probably time to buy the special bag. It might be more expensive, but it will also be much more effective at storing the supplies. Even with a simple tote bag, there are many different sizes and varieties, and you want to choose the bag that is best for the activity. In some cases, a storage bin might actually work better than a bag. My husband and I go on frequent bike day trips. All of our biking supplies fit in one large bin that we can easily put in our vehicle before we leave.
    • Create a different checklist for each bag, and attach it to the bag.
      • I almost always prefer to store information digitally only. But I have found that if a list isn’t right in front of me, I might not consult it. By having a physical list attached to the bag, you’re a lot more likely to consult it. A luggage tag works well for attaching the checklist to the bag.
      • If you’re new to an activity, ask the coach/instructor for suggestions on what you will need. It’s also helpful to ask the people (or parents of children) who have been participating in the activity for several years. And don’t forget to ask your children what they think they will need.
      • As soon as you think of something you need that isn’t on your list, either add it to the bag immediately and add it to the checklist or give yourself a reminder to do that when you get home. I love the reminders app on my iphone for scheduling reminders at a certain time or upon arrival at my home (as long as you’ve included your home address in your iphone).
      • If you have young children, you might want to include pictures of the items that need to be packed. This will allow them to share the responsibility of packing it.
    • Leave as many things as possible prepacked in the bag. This may require buying multiples of a few inexpensive items, but the time and stress saved will be well worth it.
    • Check the bag contents the night before the activity. I always like to plan ahead for the next day the night before. This will avoid those last minute panic scenarios. For example, if you realize the night before that all of your uniforms are dirty, you’ve still got time to wash them.
    • Don’t forget a spectator bag. I love this idea that I found on the Organize 365 website ( and additions to the list found on this website ( The items in this bag can make all the difference for your comfort and enjoyment as a spectator. If you’re attending an all day event, these items will also be invaluable to the participant and their friends. There is almost always some down time in long events, and you want your child to be able to refuel, relax, and enjoy the time. Suggestions include:
      • Snacks and drinks
      • Cash (including small bills and coins) for concessions
      • Cell phone charger with cord and portable battery in case an outlet isn’t available
      • Pad and pencil or pen
      • Items for entertainment: deck of cards, small game, coloring books and colored pencils/crayons
      • Gum, candy, or mints
      • Blanket
      • Plastic bags for wet or dirty clothes or equipment or trash if a can isn’t nearby
      • Umbrella
      • Jackets
      • Towel
      • Sunscreen
      • Bug repellant
      • Elastic hair bands
      • Bandages, anti-itch cream, and antibiotic cream
      • Scissors (to cut open snack bags, cut a string on a uniform)
      • Disinfectant wipes
      • Hand sanitizer for before and after snacks
      • Spray bottle with water (this feels great on a hot day!)


  • Don’t assume that you will be able to run out and pick up something you’ve forgotten. Sometimes during those all day events, there simply may not be time to leave the venue. Parents are often required to help out with responsibilities like working concessions, officiating, judging, scorekeeping, etc. and may need to stay. It’s possible that you may be in a remote location with no quick options available for food or supplies.


    • Pick a strategic location for the bags. If you are making frequent trips, you may want to keep the spectator bag in the car. The bags for each person might be kept in the garage or a common household area. If a child is responsible enough, you might consider keeping it in his/her room. Wherever you choose, make sure everyone knows the location and that it always stays in this location.


  • Don’t forget the portable chairs. These probably won’t fit in the bag, but you definitely don’t want to forget them if you are headed to an outdoor event.
  • Pack extra supplies and you might just be a hero. We’ve all been there: despite your best attempts at planning ahead, you’ve left without something essential and you’re up a creek without a paddle (at the soccer field without a portable chair, or at the all day theatre tech day rehearsal without any snacks, you get the idea). Bring along extras and help a friend. It’s a great way to contribute to team spirit and build camaraderie.


I hope you find this article helpful. Enjoy the rest of your summer!


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