All my bags are packed and I’m ready to go. I’m standing here, outside your door…,” I hum to myself. This song by John Denver is one of my favourites, and every time I plan a trip, I sing this song as early as a month before the trip. But this time, as I hum the song, I reminisce about a past trip – a childhood trip.
I remember blue skies dotted with white patches of clouds. I remember a white dragon flying freely next to a rabbit. I remember making up a story about how that rabbit hopped onto the dragon’s back and flew away, and how size never mattered when it came to friendship. It was a story I had narrated to my mother, who was sitting beside me.
That was during one of our family picnics, which had included members of our extended family. It was a planned day-long outing to Mahabalipuram, the famous World Heritage Site, near Chennai. A mid-size van had been arranged and yummy idlies and sandwiches had been packed for breakfast. Music and cool breeze filled the air as the journey towards our destination began.
After a pleasant ride, we reached the picnic spot. We walked around, helping each other trek through the place, singing out songs aloud. We then headed to a resort with a private beach, gobbled down food, and spent the evening at the beach. A trip with the family never felt better. Sharing those small joys of life and understanding each other became much easier because of that one al fresco get-together.
Why picnics need to be reinvented
Today, as I hum that song, in anticipation of my next trip, I realise how we, as a society, no longer go on picnics. One-day trips are a rarity, and for those with extended families, they are beyond rare. We now go only on vacations - on jet planes and trains. That’s how life has turned out for most of us in the new era. It’s not just about the lack of time, but also about the lack of space. Beaches are overcrowded, parks are becoming a thing of the past, and concrete structures are steadily creeping up. And yes, there are bigger culprits – malls and multiplexes. Picnic, as a concept, is slowly becoming non-existent. But, before it fades away completely, you and I can take steps to revive it. After all, going on family picnics has many benefits apart from just improving the bonding between everyone. Pamela Higgins, Founder, Total Health Counselling and a Certified Health Coach, American Association of Drugless Practitioners, talks about five main health-supporting benefits of picnic, in her blog post at vitacost.com:
- Nourishment – Eating outdoors helps you slow down and enjoy what you eat.
- Happiness – Dining ‘al fresco’ surrounded by beautiful scenery boosts your mood.
- Natural Connections – Going out together and leaving behind electronics helps you connect with your surroundings and nature.
- Revival – The freshness of nature helps clear your mind and revives your body.
- Relationships – More than anything else, going together on a family picnic helps strengthen bonds and reconnects everyone.
So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags; let’s go on a picnic!
Essentials to take care of when on a picnic
It doesn’t really have to be a basket. It could be a suitcase or anything else in which you can carry all your things. Let’s face it - without this, there’s pretty much no picnic.
Food & water
You may get food outside, but what if you are going to a place that’s at least a mile away from the nearest restaurant? Even otherwise, it’s always better to pack your own food. Remember to pack something light, like sandwiches and idlies so that it does not bog you down and you can run around as much as you want. Don’t forget to carry a sufficient quantity of safe drinking water.
Plates and cutlery
So you have packed food, but how would you eat it without plates and cutlery? Make sure you carry some plates, spoons and glasses. And, if you think carrying them all would be heavy, carry environment-friendly, disposable plates, spoons and glasses.
Remember to always clean up your own mess. Once you are done eating, pack off all your trash into disposal bags and hold on to them till you find a garbage bin that you could use to dump them into. Do not throw your trash in the picnic spot. Make sure you care for the environment.
It might be just a day’s trip, but it’s always a good idea to carry spare clothes. You wouldn’t want to spend your entire day in sweaty clothes. Also, if you are headed to the beach, you’d definitely need an extra set of clothes. Don’t forget to get bedspreads that you could spread out and sit on, eat or lie upon.
Safety always comes first! Remember to pack essential tablets and things like plaster, disinfectant, cotton and bandage to ensure that you are prepared for any kind of medical emergency.
Carry games along with you on your picnic to keep you entertained. It’s not absolutely essential, but is a sure-shot way to keep you entertained if everything else fails.