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Pack your bags

Figure out the difference between a need and a want and decide what to take on your trip based on the space you have in your bag.

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You’ll need

  • Scissors
  • A4 paper
  • Access to a printer
Pack Your Bags Item Cards
PDF – 285.4KB

Activity summary

This activity is all about choosing between what you want and what you need. Use the setting of a hike to get the group practising making the decisions about what they want to take with them, and how it might help - or not! - for different scenarios.

Before you begin:

  • This is a great activity for an online session. Check out the advice on using Zoom and other popular digital platforms and the guidance on being safe online.
  • Ask everyone to print out a copy of the bag and item sheet and cut the items out before the meeting.
  • If anyone doesn’t have access to a computer or printer they can draw the grid and items themselves. They just need to make sure their backpack grid and item cards have the same number of squares as the ones on the sheet – the squares don’t need to be the same size as the ones on the sheet and the items don’t need to be perfect works of art.
  • Create a list of scenarios or occasions for everyone to pack their bags for. You could include a sleepover, a hike, or a trip to the seaside, for example.

Step 1: Needs and wants

  1. The person leading the activity should welcome everyone to the call.
  2. Everyone should chat about the difference between a need and a want.
  1. Everyone should chat about the things they may need and want when they’re packing their bag for a trip. What’s essential to stay safe, warm, and dry? What’s fun or nice to have but not necessary?

Step 2: Going on a hike!

  1. The person leading the activity should explain that everyone’s backpack has a limited amount of space. The different item cards take up a different amount of space. People can only take the items they can fit in their grid on their backpack.
  2. The person leading the activity should give everyone the first scenario, for example, a hike. Everyone should choose the best equipment to take with them, remembering what they said about needs and wants in steps two and three.
  3. Everyone should take it in turns to show their bags to the group and explain what they chose to pack.

Step 3: Different scenarios

  1. The person leading the activity should create a short story about two or three things that happen during the scenario that require certain equipment. Everyone should show the camera whether they have the equipment or not.

2. The person leading the activity should give everyone a new scenario. Everyone should unpack their bags and repack them for the new scenario, then take it in turns to share their ideas like before.

3. The person leading the activity should create another short story about two or three things that happen during the scenario. Everyone should show their items to the camera like before.


This activity needed everyone to think about equipment and scenarios to decide what they needed to pack. Was it tricky to choose between different items? Maybe it felt like there were too many essential items or it was difficult to balance needs and wants. Remember that this activity didn’t have right or wrong answers: people could pack anything they thought they needed.

People also make choices between what they want and what they need when they budget and spend their money. Can anyone think of some things that are needs? People could think about having a home or food to eat. What sorts of things are wants? Why is it useful to practise thinking about needs and wants and making decisions between items? 


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.


Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

  • It’s up to you to choose scenarios and design your stories. You could include all sorts of predictable or unexpected situations to test people’s knowledge.
  • You could also change the size of the bag, reduce the items available, or give people the opportunity to add their own items.

Make it accessible

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

You can complete this activity in person before going on a hike or to a sleepover.

Take a look at more money skills activities.

If someone wants to come up with the scenario or story, let them give it a go.