From choosing your destination to planning your route, taking a day trip can provide a great alternative for families who have limited vacation time or are on a limited budget.
As with any type of trip, careful planning and preparation will dictate how successful your day trip will be. When planning your day trip, take these things into consideration:
Set a budget.
How much can you really spend in a day? For a family of four, eating two meals out at a restaurant can run well over $100. Add in snacks, gas, admission tickets, parking and tolls, you could easily spend way more that you ever thought possible. Carefully calculate and consider your day trip budget and plan accordingly. Packing lunch, taking public transportation and using coupons for dining out and admissions can reduce the amount you spend and help keep you at or under your budget.
Decide how far you want to travel.
How many hours are you willing to invest getting to where you want to go? Consider sitting down as a family and looking at a map of your local area. Research the towns within the radius you are willing to travel. Older children and adults can each take a town that peaks their interest and present the family with an overview of why they want to go there and what there is to do once they arrive.
Settle on your destination.
Once you’ve had a chance to explore your options, settle on your destination. Visit the local chamber of commerce website and do an Internet search of the area. If you are a AAA member, contact your local office and ask if they have materials related to your destination.
Plan your travel route.
Map out just how you’ll be getting to your destination. If you’ll be traveling over an hour or two, you may wish to research playgrounds or parks that are en route (there is a great new app called Playgrounds that can help you locate playgrounds on the go). These can make for great pit stops to let children run around or to have a picnic lunch. While GPS can be super helpful, you may also want to print or write out directions in case your maps are out of date.
Be sure you pack what you need to be away from home for the day. Snacks, drinks, activities to play with in the car, spare clothes and whatever else you need while on the road. If you’ll be taking public transportation, consider wearing a backpack.
With a little planning and preparation, embarking on a daytrip can be a great family adventure. While even the best of plans can’t guarantee smooth sailing, especially with children are involved, the definitely increase your chases of smooth sailing.
Have you taken a daytrip with your family? What steps did you take to ensure success? Leave your tips below.