Preparing for a Long Day Out

| January 17, 2017

Heading out to demonstrate this weekend? Here are some things I would consider while preparing for the day. It should be noted that I am not experienced with demonstrations specifically–I am experienced with long days (think: wandering foreign cities all day), large crowds and events (think: Inauguration Day in DC, or New Year’s Eve in Times Square, or Carnival in Tenerife), and misery.

Stay connected

  • Consider writing contact info on your arm–a number to call that you might forget if you lose your phone. Write your contact info in Sharpee on your child’s arm.
  • Consider temporarily activating “Find My Friends” on your phone, with family/friends.  You can deactivate it and go about your sneaky life after the event.
  • Take pictures of children/people in your party that morning so you have something accurate to show emergency personnel in case of separation.
  • External battery and/or phone charger.  For many reasons, this ain’t the time to have a dead phone.
  • Discuss a plan with your family/fellow rally goers: a rally point, contact numbers, etc.
  • Everyone take a picture of wherever you park, if you drive; take a picture of the subway stop you exited so you remember the name of it.
  • Watch your phone for breaking news during the event.

Be physically prepared

  • Layer your clothing.
  • Be prepared if your city is calling for rain–choose a poncho instead of an umbrella.  It’s easier to carry, disposable, and won’t get jumbled up with signs and other umbrellas.
rainy misery

Sechseläuten in Zurich, 2016


  • Pants: make sure you’re wearing something you don’t mind sitting on the ground in, as you might not find a lot of places to sit and rest.
  • If you’re in a sunny climate, take sunscreen.
  • Footwear: sturdy, comfortable, weather-appropriate, broken-in. Consider an extra pair of socks in case yours get wet.
Don't let this happen to you. Croatia, 2013

Don’t let this happen to you. Croatia, 2014

  • If it is to be cold (as Washington, DC can be in January), consider packing not only gloves, but also Hot Hands.
  • Two ziploc baggies: one to put wallet/phone in if it rains, and another to put trash in until you find a trash can.
  • Hat: Not only will it help keep in body heat or shield the face from sun, but a ballcap pulled down will help protect your identity. Maybe you’re looking to stand with the cause, but not end up a viral meme? Wear a hat.
  • STAY HYDRATED.  Take a refillable water bottle.  Drink all day.  And don’t think that you can’t get overheated on a cold day.
Beginning of a hike in the Alps

Starting a hike in the snowy Alps, 2015

An hour later...

An hour later…

  • Pack as lightly as you can while still carrying essentials. Know your city’s current bag restrictions during demonstrations (size, style, contents, does it have to be clear?) Don’t let your original cause be derailed as you stand on the corner arguing with police about your banned backpack.
  • Snacks! Trail mix is filling, easy to carry, and won’t crumble in your pocket like a granola bar will.
  • Pack some small bills so that you can grab a quick snack/drink from a street vendor; keep them in your pocket.

“Here, hold my sign while open my bag, get out my wallet, and pull out a credit card…you’ll accept American Express for this $2.00 hotdog, right?”

Don’t be that guy.

  • A Sharpee.
  • Wetnaps/wipes to use as toilet paper or to clean hands.
  • Consider downloading a bathroom finder app for your phone.
  • Motrin or your OTC pain reliever of choice (I carry small tubes of pain relievers in my purse, personally).
  • If you take important daily medication, consider carrying a small pill case with enough to get you through to the next day in case of an overnight emergency.

My kid is mildly asthmatic. She rarely wheezes, so we often forget the inhaler. One of those rare occasions? Halfway up a mountain in Bavaria, when her inhaler was in the car.


Worst-case scenario preparation

  • Know your rights. Consider printing a wallet card that explains your rights. But don’t be stupid. Protestors are all riled up. Police are hyper-vigilant. Know how far you are willing to go. Know what is worth your arrest. Do you want to be arrested for arguing with someone for searching your bag, or do you want to be arrested for standing up for civil rights? Or do you maybe not want to be arrested at all? Know your personal boundaries and be mentally prepared. Know ahead of time: whom will you call if you are arrested? I liked this Ohio State Bar Association write-up on knowing your rights:

Taking your kid? Obviously take something to keep them busy. If you don’t already know how to keep your kid busy, you might not want to take them to a demonstration.

Backup plan: If you get too cold or tired, where will you go? I was once in DC on Inauguration Day. It was freeeeeezing. After a little while, another girl and I ended up walking to a local pub and watching it on TV.

I don’t have experience in the protest arena, but I have read that the following could be helpful in the event of tear gas:

-Scarf/bandana (protestors have used bandanas to cover face when being sprayed with tear gas–they say to pour water on them)
-Glasses: if you wear contacts, consider carrying glasses in case something is sprayed in the air that will get between your lens and your eye.
-Swim goggles

Although I walked for causes as a kid (CROP, etc.), the only demonstration I recall attending as an adult was the one we accidentally participated in when my daughter was a Kindergartner in Germany.

Because me.

Because me.

Category: FAMILY, In Germany A Broad blog, Travel, Uncategorized, US Travel

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

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