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10 Must-Have Summer Bag Essentials


The temperatures are soaring, flowers are blooming, the sun is shining. . . it feels like summer to me.  For our family, summer means impromptu play dates, trips to the splash park, lazy beach days, and lots of ice cream.  It’s hard living a block from the best ice cream spot in our city, but somebody’s got to do it. 😉

The bad part?  The crazy mess that’s left over when the fun is done.

Or even worse, running late because you can’t find the sunscreen or mosquito spray or insert whatever else you can’t leave without.

Enter the summer bag.

One place for all your essentials to be immediately emptied out and repacked when all the fun is done.

The summer bag was our sanity saver last summer, and this year will be no exception.  Here’s my list of 10 items we don’t leave home without, and a few nice-to-haves for certain outings.

Avoid the mess and stress this summer with one grab and go bag full of all your summer essentials.  Perfect for keeping your kids happy and safe during all those trips to the park or beach.

1. Magazine for Mom

My child is finally at the age where I don’t have to obsessively follow him around the playground anymore.  I lay out on my blanket and catch up with the latest in home decor.  Before you get too jealous, know that I still get frequently interrupted for requests to “watch me Mom” and snacks.  It’s all good.

2. Mosquito Spray

Don’t leave home without it!  In our area the mosquitos will eat you alive and laugh at your foolishness.

3. Bubble Wand and other toys

Sometimes there’s no one at the park your child’s age to play with.  It’s nice to whip out a toy or two that you save only for trips to the park or other outings.  Dominic LOVES chasing after bubbles.

4. Water Bottles

You’ll need one for each member of the family.  If you have a larger brood, I recommend bringing one large thermos of water and reusable cups for everyone.

Related: Spice up your water with our easy fruit water.

5. Snacks. . .

Keep everyone happy with a small selection of healthy snacks.  Our favourites to take are apples, blueberries, cherries, crackers, and rice cake chips.

Related: Pack this Strawberry Feta Salad for a summer picnic!

6. or Money for Snacks

When that ice cream truck comes calling, you’ll be ready!

7. Reusable Bag

Useful for wet swimsuits and towels, toys, or any purchases you might make.

8. Sunscreen

Apply around 30 minutes before you leave the house, and reapply every 2 hours, or if you start to feel that burning sensation.  I burn very easily, so I use SPF 50 and try to stick to the shade.

9. After Sun Gel

If you do get burned, it’s great to have this on hand to avoid flaking and peeling.

10. Sunglasses

Because if you’re like me, you’re forever losing and finding them.  Sigh.

Other Summer Essentials to Make Life Easier

Dominic is now too big for a stroller, but he still wants to be carried or gets tired of walking easily.  I use a fold up wagon for all our outings.  We also always carry a picnic blanket with us, which has also doubled as a towel in a pinch.

In our car, I keep an umbrella and three folding chairs so we are always ready for potlucks and BBQ’s.  I hate forgetting to bring a chair.  No matter how much I like sitting on the ground, grass stains and imprints on your skin get annoying after awhile.

Want more summer hacks?  Follow my Outdoor Living, Summer, and Life with Kids boards on Pinterest!

Avoid the mess and stress this summer with one grab and go bag full of all your summer essentials.  Perfect for keeping your kids happy and safe during all those trips to the park or beach.

Kristen Raney

Kristen Raney

Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots.  She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden.  She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.

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Hi, I'm Kristen and I help new gardeners learn to grow their own vegetables and beautify their yards. I also share recipes that use all that delicious garden produce. Grab a coffee (and your gardening gloves) and join me for gardening tips, simple recipes, and the occasional DIY, all from the lovely city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

P.S. First time gardener? You'll want to download the quick start gardening guide below!