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.
PICNICS ARE MAGIC
Let's be honest. It really doesn't matter what's on the menu - everything tastes better outside. So whether we get takeout on the fly, swing into a grocery store to grab prepped deli items, or pack a meal from our own kitchen, we always keep a few extras on hand so we're picnic-ready.
This canvas dropcloth is my favorite picnic blanket. Its price point and washability mean I'm not precious about it the way I am with my grandmother's quilts, and I don't worry about spills and ground stains. A waterproof tote version is also a great choice, especially if a recent rain might otherwise stall your al fresco dining plans.
This knife always comes with me. It works for slicing the peaches we pick up from Chilton county roadside stands or the strawberries from our local u-pick, and it makes quick work of baguettes, cheeses, and charcuterie. Coupled with this reusable cutlery set, we're ready to dig in and share with friends.
NEVER SAY NO TO JUMPING IN THE WATER
Especially because summertime on our home turf is an exercise in escaping the heat, we've always got an eye out for water. Dipping our toes in a spring, wading across a creek to find a path less traveled, hopping into a boat for a paddle, or romping around at a splash pad bring welcome relief and add a new dimension to our fun, so I want to be ready to say yes. And to do so safely.
So how about you? What are the go-to items that help you say yes?