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What to pack for a school trip

Schoolgirl smiling on her way on a trip

School trips can be an exciting proposition for your child - a chance to get away from the normal routine of school and experience something new! Trips to museums, aquariums, zoos and even just out into nature can all be formative in developing your child’s hobbies and interests, as well as giving them fond memories to look back on. But since they’re not spending the time at school as usual, chances are you might need to pack some different supplies in their school bag.

What to pack for a school field trip

First, let’s look at one-day trips. Not all such trips will take the whole school day, but any trip that involves leaving and coming back on the same day will likely need roughly the same items. Of course there may be some variation depending on what the trip involves, so it’s worth asking your child’s teacher whether there is anything specific they should bring with them.

Many day trips are done in school uniform, so it’s important to make sure that your child is wearing sturdy yet comfortable school shoes that can stand up to a good amount of walking. For some trips, such as a muddy forest walk or a farm visit, your child may be allowed to wear more appropriate footwear such as boots or wellies.

It’s also a good idea to make sure that they’re wearing the right kind of clothing. Whether they’re in school uniform or not, layers are an excellent choice as it makes it easier for your child to keep warm enough or stay cool depending on the weather and their activity levels. Plus, as we all know how changeable the weather can be, ensure they have a waterproof jacket to hand, if not a full winter coat.

Clothing aside, consider what they’ll need for the actual trip. Your school may have suggestions on this, which can be very helpful as they will know what the trip will entail. Failing that, here are some items you could pack in your child’s backpack to help them get the most out of the trip:

  • Paper and pen
  • A book or similarly compact form of entertainment (for longer journeys)
  • A camera or phone for taking photographs when out and about
  • Seasonal handy items - e.g. sun lotion and glasses for summer, hats and scarves for winter

What to pack for an overnight school trip

Overnight school trips, whether it’s a one-night sleepover or a week-long residential, naturally require a little more in the way of packing. It’s likely your child will need more than just their school backpack in order to carry everything they need. Of course one of the most important aspects of their essential luggage will be clothing. If they’re staying overnight, your child will need changes of clothes as well as pyjamas. They might also need more activity-specific clothing, such as trainers for running about, or swimming costumes and towels for beach visits. If there’s one available, a rough itinerary can be a helpful resource for this.

For trips that last multiple nights, consider packing your child’s dressing gown and slippers to help them feel as comfortable and close-to-home as possible over the course of their time away. As well as increasing their comfort, a well-made pair of slippers will help to protect your child’s feet while they’re indoors and keep their toes warm and cosy.

They’ll also need certain creature comforts such as toiletries, their favourite cuddly toy and any accessories they like to have with them. Don’t forget essentials such as chargers if they've taken any electronic devices with them - your child may be able to borrow someone else’s if necessary, but having their own to hand makes things much easier.

Beyond that, think about packing your child more entertainment options, whether that’s reading books, colouring books, travel-friendly games or toys. It’s likely they’ll be busy most of the time doing whatever tasks and activities the school has arranged, but for those moments of downtime, having something familiar and enjoyable to do can help them to avoid feelings of homesickness or boredom.

If you’re worried you might have forgotten something, you can always ask the school if there’s a recommended packing list to help you. And remember, your child can also be a helpful resource when it comes to knowing what they’ll need to have with them.

The best foods and drinks to pack for a school trip

Finally, one aspect we have yet to discuss is food and drinks. It’s likely that your child will have main meals provided for them - and if that’s not the case, the school will let you know in advance so that you can plan and pack accordingly. However, snacks and drinks are an integral part of packing for school trips, and your child will enjoy themselves much more if they’re not hankering after something to eat.

When it comes to packing food and drink for a school trip, convenience is key. Sticky, crumbly or otherwise messy snacks could be problematic - as, of course, could anything that needs to be kept cool so it doesn’t spoil. Instead, try to stick to dry, solid snacks such as crackers and whole fruits to avoid your child getting in a mess while they eat.

As for drinks, similar rules apply. To avoid mishaps, steer clear of drinks that can’t be resealed, such as cartons or cans. If the drink your child prefers only comes in those formats, try decanting it into a reusable bottle, which they can then refill (or ask a teacher to help) whenever necessary. Depending on the length of the trip, you might also want to avoid drinks that don’t keep well, such as milkshakes.

Last but not least, don’t forget to pack your child some pocket money. Whether they like to get something from the gift shop on the way out of the museum or they want to buy snacks when they get to their destination, a little bit of cash can help them to feel like they’re treating themselves on their adventure.