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How to Pack for a School Trip to Washington DC


How do I pack for a school trip to Washington DC?

There is so much excitement leading up to a school trip to Washington DC. Your mind is filled with the amazing things that you will see and learn and all the fun that you will have with your friends along the way. However, if you are like most parents and students, there is a moment of panic the night before departure. What exactly do I need to pack? How should I organize it? Follow these tips to properly prepare for your school trip.

Pack a Bus Bag and a Tour Bag

In Washington DC, there is security nearly everywhere you go. You will frequently need to put bags through a metal detector. Additionally, many buildings restrict what can be brought inside, including food and liquids.  We strongly encourage students to travel as light as possible when touring. The less you bring, the faster everyone gets through security, and the more you see during your trip.

Therefore, we encourage you to distinguish between a bus bag and a tour bag when packing.

Bus Bag

  • Size: A small to medium size tote bag or purse.
  • What’s Inside: The things that you would like to have close, but don’t need everywhere you go.
  • Where It Stays: On the bus. The motor coach is locked when passengers are not on board. On most trips, you will ride the motor coach at several points throughout the day where you will have access to these items.
  • What to Pack: Any snacks, drinks, lotion, hand sanitizer, umbrella, jacket, headphones, sunglasses, sunscreen, mints, chap stick, make up, copy of the itinerary, etc.

Tour Bag

  • Size: Preferably, just your pockets! If not, a small purse or draw string bag.
  • What’s Inside: Only the things that are absolutely necessary for touring.
  • Where It Stays: With you. You will carry this with you everywhere you go.
  • What to Pack: Needed cash, your phone, your camera, and any other absolute essentials.

Making the distinction between a bus bag and tour bag will save you hassle and time on your school trip to Washington DC!

Check the Weather in Washington DC

The weather in Washington DC may be dramatically different than your hometown. It may also vary throughout your trip. Confirm the weather forecast the day before your departure and prepare accordingly.

Do You Have?

  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Light jacket for  cool evenings
  • Gloves/hat
  • Winter coat
  • Rain coat
  • Umbrella
  • Extra set of shoes

Confirm School Trip Dress Code

Does your school have a school trip dress code? Many schools have guidelines in place for what can and cannot be worn during a school trip. Prepare accordingly.

Will the students have school trip t-shirts or sweatshirts? Many schools commemorate the trip with a t-shirt that everyone wears on a particular day. Make sure yours is packed!

Will your student be laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery? Dress code guidelines are in place. 

Make a List and Check It Twice

Write a list for the items that will be packed in your suitcase. Make this list before you pack anything. This often helps important items from being forgotten. Check off each item as it is packed into your bag.

Happy packing! We hope that you enjoy a fantastic school trip to Washington DC!

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