Berty and I had our friends over for dinner last week and we were talking about our plans to Europe this Christmas season. Our friend Kate was giving us fabulous suggestions and tips for London from her recent trip – things like visiting Borough Market, Tate Modern and taking The Tube everywhere. She also asked us, “What would be absolutely essential for you to carry around for the day?” That got us thinking – what are the essentials we pack in our daily travel bag?
Since Berty and I are travel bloggers, we’ve got a little more camera gear than the usual traveler, but we still love packing light. Berty and I sat down to discuss what was necessary for a day trip around a city and we came up with the list below! We’ve compiled a list of total essentials, so you can bring just what you need to experience all a city has to offer!
Our Daily Travel Bag Essentials
1. Great Backpack
Obviously the first and most important point – every great adventure starts with a good backpack. Things we look for when choosing a daily camera bag:
- Comfortable shoulder straps (remember, you’re wearing it all day).
- Hidden inside pocket(s) for valuables.
- Outside pocket for easily accessible things like maps and snacks.
- Bonus for Photographers: Sections for your camera. ONA makes killer bags for this very purpose.
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2. Money (Cash + Card)
We suggest bringing both cash and card. Some places may not take cards, so it’s best to play it safe. Use cash for things like street cafes, corner mom + pop stores, or public markets. We use a card at most places, but usually at large corporations like tourist stops, coffee shops, restaurants, and grocery stores.
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This one will vary depending on your connection with photography. Your phone can be a perfectly good (and compact) camera in itself! However, for Berty and I, we pack two DSLR cameras (currently our Canon 5D Mark III and 5D Mark IV) and our vlogging camera, a Canon Powershot G7X. To protect our gear when we’re out and about, we either keep it around our body with an attached Kawa strap, or tucked away safely in our bag.
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Paper maps are usually free in any big tourist area. You can find them at airports, visitor centers, and hotels. Grab one for transportation (we’ve got the Tube map safely in our pocket at all times) and at least one for large monuments/buildings around the city to orient yourself.
- Pro Tip: On Google Maps you can download the city you’ve visiting to use offline. For most visitors (unless you have an international SIM card) your phone won’t have cell service, but your location is still tracked. From there, we do some research before we go and save (star) locations we want to visit. This helps us keep track of places we want to see, and map out the best route for the day. Example below…
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5. Water + Snacks
In London, we walked nearly 10 miles every day. With this much activity, we found ourselves getting hungry often! Packing snacks and water not only let us eat whenever we wanted/needed, but saved us a ton of money, too. Before our adventures in the morning, we would stop by a grocery store to grab a liter of water and granola bars. Easy and cheap!
6. *Winter Bonus* – Hats, Gloves and Scarves
Walking around during wintertime can obviously be pretty cold. One of the worst feelings is when your fingers are so cold they can’t function! Before the trip, we stopped by REI and bought these gloves, which honestly were the MVP on those freezing London days. We could handle our cameras just fine and keep our fingers nice and toasty! Hats and scarves are essential too – especially on cold windy days.
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That’s it! We believe that with these things, you can enjoy a day in the city without being bogged down with extra items in your travel bag. Now, what city should we explore next…find out where we are on our Instagram account, @themandagies!