What to wear on a school excursion (and how to survive them with a smile!)

By Louise Rodgers

As the year draws to a close, there’s a rush on school excursions. Many teachers like to have a special away day with the kids to mark the end of the year, and inevitably the school newsletter is crammed with calls for parents to volunteer to accompany classes on their off campus adventures. If the very idea makes you shake in your Converse, you’re not alone.

For the first couple of years after my eldest child started school, I avoided going on excursions like the plague.  I always used my toddler as an excuse not to go, but in reality I was terrified. I get car sick in buses, I’m shy, I don’t like having to discipline other people’s kids, it sounded like hard work, etc. etc… I think you get the idea.  Once both of my children were at school, I was back at work and therefore had an even better excuse for not going.  Over the last twelve months though, I’ve made a lot of changes in my life.  The main change is a reduction in my work commitments to one day a week (my choice – a long story!), so there were no more excuses for not going on excursions.  The result: in the last twelve months I’ve been on three, the most delightful of which was a trip to the zoo with seventy five Year 5 boys!

Here are my tips on what to wear, what to take, and how to survive the school excursion.


1.  Keep it comfy 

Converse, loafers, boots, a sandal with a bit of a wedge – shoes that you’re certain you can walk in for a full day.  It may seem obvious but even the most innocent-sounding trip to the Botanic Gardens to see the stick insects ended up leaving my legs aching from walking and standing around waiting for seven year olds to fill in their activity booklets. Shoes with a bit of cushioning can be your saviour on an excursion like this.


2.  Wear Pants

I can guarantee you that at some stage during the day, you’ll be required to sit on the ground.  This might be to listen to someone talk to the class, to eat lunch, or maybe even to wait for the bus.  I guess this could be expanded to say wear pants that are not white or light in colour.  If you have to sit on damp grass in a park or someone decides to wipe their sticky hands on your leg, then white pants are not going to last past morning tea.


3.  Layer it up

You’ll be outside, you’ll be inside, you’ll be on a bus or train, you’ll be gone all day and the weather might change.  I think a singlet then a shirt or tunic then a cardie is a good start.  Don’t wear denim or boyfriend jackets that you end up having to carry over your arm all day.  Items that can be tied around your waist or carried easily in your bag are great.  (I love Metallicus for layering pieces like tights and cardigans).


4. Take a Hat

We all know about the “no hat, no play” rule by now so it only makes sense to lead by example.  The teacher will have one and all the kids will too, so you may as well join in!


5.  Bag vs Backpack

I have yet to find a stylish backpack, so if anyone knows where I can get one I would appreciate the tip!  I prefer to wear an across-the-body bag or satchel instead, for two reasons. Firstly, it won’t slide down your arm every time you have to lean over to listen to a softly spoken little girl ask to use the bathroom.  Secondly, I find it saves my back from getting achy after all the aforementioned walking and standing around.

7 Items to Pack in Your Bag

  1. Ginger tablets for the bumpy bus ride
  2. A travel pack of wipes
  3. Paracetamol for your inevitable headache
  4. Antiseptic hand gel (because other people’s kids’ germs are not as endearing as your own)
  5. A bottle of water
  6. Lunch and snacks in a brown paper bag (or get your child to lug it around in theirs if you can!)
  7. Sunscreen


The most important thing to wear is a smile, and the most important thing to take is a sense of fun and adventure.”

There is a reason your children get so excited about trips out of the school grounds – it is great fun and I wish I had started volunteering sooner! It will also give you a wonderful insight into your child’s personality and the way they interact with their peers.  Oh, and if you do have to discipline anyone, don’t feel too bad or scared about it. I had to remind two little girls not to run in an art gallery, one of them glared at me and hissed, “We’re not running, we’re skipping!!” Pffft!


Have you braved a school excursion, and if so, what’re your tips?

And if you’re too chicken, what excuses do you come up with? 

baby hanger1 Ditch the pram and wear your cutest accessory with these 5 stylish baby slings


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  • http://profiles.google.com/joni.llanora Joni Ibarra

    My kid’s in a wheelchair during school trips so I initially help out. But like you I hate the bus ride and the confusion I feel when I am faced with kids acting out & the teacher is nowhere in sight. Sadly, my kid politely asked me not to join in since last year as she claims I have to give other parents a chance & she wants to be more “independent”.

    • FoxInFlats

      Joni, Good on you for getting in amongst it, and your daughter sounds super cool! x A

    • Louise

      Oh Joni bless her, she sounds sweet. Maybe you’ll have to brave the tuck shop next!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kirralee.baker Kirralee Baker

    I went on my first excursion a couple of weeks ago and it was HARD! 50 kids aged 3-5 at the zoo. In my extremely limited experience that is too many kids to try and keep together, and 3 is too young for an excursion, especially when it means they miss their day sleep.

    I thought I would do it to see what it’s like before my eldest starts big school next year and I imagine excursions become a bit more frequent. I wish I had read this article first because I didn’t think of taking my own lunch! Won’t make that mistake again. And next time I will ask the kids I’m in charge of if they need to go every time we pass a toilet. I forgot how “catching” going to the toilet is for little ones and once one decided she needed to, they all did, including the one who needed to do a poo – “It’s coming! I can’t stop it!”. And there was me racing madly in every direction searching for the toilets which blended into the landscape so well I couldn’t see them!

    • FoxInFlats

      Kirralee, I couldn’t help laughing when I read this – it’s so true about little kids and bathrooms! x A

  • mary_j_j

    Ha, I did back to back excursions just 2 weeks ago! The preschool trip to the zoo and the very next day the aquarium with the infants school! I loved both of them. The preschool sends out a note for parent helpers with it all spelt out – apart from what to wear!! I’ve always been a backpack wearer so that’s the bag I take! I love being with little people and hearing their thoughts on things so I find the excursions just grand!

    • FoxInFlats

      Oh Mary, that sounds so cute and fab – I think I need to give it a go too!

  • Janelle@awhitefarm

    Perfect timing! I’m off on a 5 hour excursion with 30 odd kinder kids on thurs…in what is forecast as a stinking hot day…oh yay!! Wouldnt miss it tho! Thanks for the tips…xx

    • FoxInFlats

      High fives to you Janelle! And may the fox force be with you ;) xA

    • Lou

      So how was it!!! Are you having a wine right about now?

  • http://twitter.com/styleforreal Jennifer Kelly

    Been there and wished I had your blog 11 years ago to go to. I just love that there is so much now for Mum’s. Good job. Love it!!!

    • FoxInFlats

      Oh Jennifer, thankyou so much, that’s so fab to hear! xxx A

  • http://twitter.com/RedcliffeStyle Rachel Wernicke

    Don’t forget your iPhone with headphones. You’ll need them for the bus to block out the screaming excited children :) Rachel xx

    • FoxInFlats

      LOL good point ;) xA

  • Kim-Marie from Kimba Likes

    My Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q backpack is gorgeous. Just saying! X

    • FoxInFlats

      Ah yes…but K-M, you can’t BUY these things anymore! I’ve looked… xA

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