You’re 30 minutes from home. The kids are hungry. It’s starting to rain. Are you prepared for anything?


One of the biggest differences between urban and suburban/rural life is that suburban life is completely dependent upon a car – even more so when children are involved.  I always thought of my car as just a means of transporting people and the types of large items I couldn’t carry easily.

But now I have no car.

Wendy has a car for her commute to work outside of town, but we rarely use it in town.  If we’re going to school, to the bank, to a restaurant, to the park, etc., we usually either walk or take public transit.  It’s just too much of a pain and too expensive to drive and find parking for most things.  Since I gave up my car, I’ve found that I used it as a mobile storage unit as much as for getting myself and my things places.  Suburban cars are trash cans, medicine cabinets, junk drawers, and closets.

After ditching the car, I had to find a way to fill the gap.  I use a backpack.  So, what do I keep in there?  Why, anything and everything I might need, of course.

Let’s start the tour!

  • Rain gear: Raincoats can be the difference between an enjoyable day and a day of wet misery.  You wanna get a taste of obnoxious?  Just douse yourself and a kid with water when you’re a 30 minute train ride away from home and presto!
How does one pose rain gear for a blog post?  Like this.
How does one pose rain gear for a blog post? Like this.
  • Meds: I like to keep headache medicine handy for myself and for the kids.  I also keep some sudafed with me because I have wicked bad allergies on days when I breath.  Band-aids and triple antibiotic are good for cuts and scrapes.  Lip balm keeps us all smoochable.  I also keep sunscreen in there because without it my daughter would go up in flames faster than a kerosene soaked rag in a glass factory.  Also, hand sanitizer.  Have you seen the things kids touch?  The world is basically covered in dirt that coats a layer of dried snot.  
Med.  They're good for what ails ya'.
Meds: They’re good for what ails ya’.
  • Bags: I like these fabric bags because they fold up into almost nothing, but they can hold, like, 1 kid each.  Or groceries.  Whichever.
They fold up small, but open up big.
They fold up small, but open up big.
  • Collapsible water bottles: Especially in the summer, a lightweight, space-conscious water toting system is indispensable when you’ve got as much walking left ahead of you as behind.
Warning: Just because I took a picture of these on my stove top, doesn't mean I recommend boiling water in them.
Warning: Just because I took a picture of these on my stove top, doesn’t mean I recommend boiling water in them.
  • Pens and a notebook: They come in handy for me a lot, but they’re also nice when the kids have a wait and I don’t want to share my cellphone games.

[Insert picture here?  Nah.  You guys know what pens and notebooks look like, right?]

  • Protein bars: 1 per kid in case of sugar crash meltdown.
Any snack will do.  I bring fruit sometimes, but ever since I found that the source of THE SMELL was a 3 month old orange, I'm wary...
Any snack will do. I bring fruit sometimes, but ever since I found that the source of THE SMELL was a 3 month old orange, I’m wary…
  • Exploring tools: I keep a little LED flashlight on my keychain.  It comes in handy for looking in cracks and crevices.  Last night, I used it to spotlight Clover, who was out for an after-dark munch in the park.  If I remember, I also put in a magnifying glass.
Here, the flashlight came in handy by showing me it'd be safe to put my face right up against that crevice in the background.
Here, the flashlight came in handy by showing me it’d be safe to put my face right up against that crevice in the background.

Of course, you can always toss in day-specific additions (e.g., a frisbee or something, too, if you’re heading to the park, etc.).

What do you carry?  I’m always on the lookout to increase my load and then offset it by buying cool, collapsible, lightweight versions of things I already have.  Comment away!


5 thoughts on “You’re 30 minutes from home. The kids are hungry. It’s starting to rain. Are you prepared for anything?

  1. I just started to carry a back-pack again. I suspected my choices border on a combination of indulgence and planning for some bizarre event that may, or may not, happen! here’s what I mean; a small maraca (which is egg-shaped – gold and sparkly), two books that I’m reading right now, essential oil, an air-horn, a miniature bull-horn (for when I really want to get my point across or perform a commentary in a crowded place when the obvious just needs to be said), hair serum (hey, it’s been humid), votive candles, incense, pain reliever, vitamins (hey, I need ’em), and chocolate. If my memory serves me, when my kids were little, I carried crayons/coloring book, flashlight, MadLibs, small binoculars, a calculator, a compass sometimes (the two latter were in place of games on a smart-phone for a lovely distraction and thinkability), wet-wipes, dry cereal/granola bars and several small, kitchen garbage bags (these were once utilized at the Hatch-Shell in Boston at a concert that was rained-out, in lieu of rain coats!)

    1. I do hate the litter that buying bottled water produces, however, I must admit that, deep down, my real motivation for bringing water from home lies in my inability to stomach the idea of paying for water. I mean, it’s water. It covers over 70% of the Earth’s surface!

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