In a recent post, blogger Ashley Muir Bruhn summed up a key travel philosophy with a quote from Pilar Guzman: “Sometimes a truly memorable trip is the one when the unexpected happens, when you get lost in a good way. But spontaneity takes planning, gathering, and the collective wisdom of travelers you trust.”
The ability to say YES to anything and anywhere an adventure might take you - especially with kids and especially assuming you want things to, you know, actually pan out - takes some work. But it tends to be fun work for which my family has reaped enormous benefits.
So I thought I'd take a moment to share what I've learned and what I always keep handy in order to be ready for (nearly) anything.
PREP YOUR GO BAGS
First, it should be known that I am bag-obsessed. I have very specific requirements for each the bags that we take adventuring, and I keep them stocked so we can head out the door at a moment's notice. These four bags are my absolute favorites.
The Big Bag: I am obsessed with the Catalina weekender from Lo & Sons. Its canvas is soft but durable, and it's big enough for a long weekend or a single day's adventuring with lots of accessories. Plus its zippers are super-buttery. Is that a thing? Buttery zippers? It's a thing. I'm also a fan of the bottom compartment, where we typically store shoes and bagged up wet stuff. Glamorous, right?
The Little Backpack: I have yet to invest in a serious backpack, but this Fjallraven pack covers our bases for short hikes. I like that it doesn't have tons of compartments, so I spend little time hunting for what I need. At first, I worried that the simple straps might cause some shoulder discomfort, but I've trekked for hours with this little guy filled with supplies and haven't felt a thing.
The City Bag: For adventures that Matt refers to as "city strolls," I currently use the STM Scout 2 bag and LOVE it. I've had this bag for two years and purchased the previous version of it in 2012. Long-time fan, for sure. The Scout is actually a tablet bag, which I like because it's slim and structured. It looks like the versions I've purchased are no longer available, but this similar STM option is on my list as a replacement when it's time to retire my current bag.
The BAGGU: This reusable shopping bag handles everything from fruits and veggies at the farmers' market to sandy, soggy clothes at the river. It's machine-washable, folds down to almost nothing, and allows us to avoid using plastic shopping bags, so it's a win all around.
HYDRATION. HYDRATION. HYDRATION.
Confession time: A few years ago, on a beastly hot summer day, I bit off more than Matt and I could chew at Oak Mountain. Long story short, we ran low on water and were getting too hot. I got worried and ended up calling the ranger for a lift back to the car. In retrospect, we were probably not in imminent danger, but I never want to come close to that sort of worry again.
This Osprey Pack was a game changer for us and a step toward ensuring that my kid is always well-hydrated. It's big enough to hold exactly what he needs to carry - water and a snack - and includes no unnecessary extras to weigh him down. I definitely recommend a few test outings close to home, though, to wear off the novelty. Matt downed a liter of water with a quickness on our first trip with the pack simply because he was so tickled about getting to drink from the tube attached to his shoulder strap.