What to Keep in Your Day Bag on Your Gap Year

Written by: Lucy Jane Ayad

A day bag is an essential piece of equipment for any backpacker. You’ll end up using it as your personal safe with most of your valuables inside so keep it close at all times. Within the day bag you will have your passport, identification, traveller’s cheques, credit cards and all the other bits and pieces that are important to you.

Try not to keep all your valuables in your day bag in case it is ever lost or stolen. It is always worth getting in the habit of splitting your valuables between your backpack and your day bag. The day bag is easier to nick as it is smaller and lighter. Your backpack on the other hand, weighing in at a little over six and a half tonnes, is a bit of a bugger to whip and do a runner with so it’s essential that you keep a credit card, some ID and a bit of money hidden in your backpack. You’re more likely to leave your main backpack unattended while on transport and in hotels or guest houses so this is why it’s so important to split you valuables.

What sort of bag should I take?

A number of backpacks now have a little ‘day sack’ attached. They are all roughly the same – a small backpack that you can sling over your shoulders and wear on your back which are ideal. Small bags that can be folded away are also pretty useful.

Can it be secured?

Make sure you can attach a mini padlock to your day pack. Grab a chunky padlock so it’s visible to potential thieves and one with a combination lock is best in case you ever lose the key.

What should I have in my day bag?

It’s a good idea to have a small money belt or a bum bag with all your important documents. Even if you don’t actually wear it as intended, it keeps everything together so nothing gets lost. In this you should keep your:

  • Credit cards
  • Passport
  • Driver’s license
  • Tickets
  • Insurance
  • ID
  • Any other important documents

Packing a day pack


A small washbag with miniature toiletries can mean the difference between a clean and chilled out journey and a hot, sweaty bus ride. Being able to brush your teeth and freshen up with a wet wipe will make you feel so much better and you never know who you’re going to bump into on the bus.

Emergency clothes

If you’re flying, it’s worth packing an extra outfit in case your luggage is lost. It’s also a good idea to pack a chunky jumper and a sarong which can be used to keep you warm, as a pillow or hung up in a window to keep the sun off you.


If you’re going on a long journey, you’ll have to stow your main backpack away so make sure you have as many entertainment options in your daypack as possible.

Our favourite options are:

  • Mp3 player
  • Book/Kindle
  • Notepad and pen
  • Playing cards

Food and drink

If you are delayed, at the beach, on a bus or just out and about in town, you’ll need plenty of snacks and drinks.

Take a refillable water bottle with you to save on plastic bottles and you’ll also get a nice discount when you’re buying water.

Further Information

Check out our ultimate packing list to make sure you pack everything you need during your gap year. Don’t foget to take a look at all the essential extras you should take on your gap year too.

If you’d like some tips and advice on the type of travel kit you’ll need while you’re travelling, take a look at our travel kit section.

Do you have any other tips for packing a day bag? Let us know in the comments below.

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