Spring break is right around the corner, and before you know it, summer vacation will be here. With all those days off and kids to entertain, now is the time to start preparing trips and activities. To plan a day trip that your family will look forward to, there are a few things you may want to consider to make the planning process as smooth as possible.
Growing up, we didn’t have the luxury of taking any vacations. In fact, I didn’t even know that people took out-of-country vacations until I was a teenager and my friends would talk about the places they had gone and the things they had seen. For many families, vacationing is not an option for many different reasons. However, I do think to take a break from work and to enjoy family time should be seen as a necessity. With all the stress and chaos caused by the world, it’s good to step away and enjoy time with the people you love most.
Day trips are considerably easier to plan and execute than full-on vacations. And the best part? The cost of a day trip is significantly cheaper. You can skip the airplane fare, the hotel fees, and meal costs. Depending on your budget and size of your family, a day trip doesn’t have to cost more than one tank of gas for your car. A day trip may be an easier option than packing up and leaving home for a few days while being just as much fun.
The best part about planning your own day trip is having the flexibility to plan for the specific needs of your family. When you plan your trip, you are in control! You can go where you want, see what you want, all while going at your pace.
If you are considering taking your family on day trip, go for it! It doesn’t matter how much or how little you spend, what matters most is that you are making memories together as a family. Make the most of your trip by remaining flexible and focus on having fun.
How to Plan a Family Day Trip in 5 Easy Steps
#1: Establish a budget. Before choosing where you want to go or what you want to see, you must determine how much you have to spend. While creating a trip day budget, allocate money for these areas:
- gas (if you are driving)
- meal costs (if you want to eat at a restaurant)
- ticket fees (if you choose an activity that isn’t free)
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, you can still plan an awesome family day trip. To keep your costs low, consider packing a lunch instead of buying food from a restaurant. Choose public places to visit such as parks and museums that have no entry fees.
Step #2: Set your boundaries. When planning your day trip, consider the distance you are willing to travel. Generally, it takes about an hour to drive 60 miles. To help determine how far you want to go, ask yourself:
- How long can our kids stand to be in the car?
- How long can we travel before needing to stop for a break?
- Who will drive there?
- Who will drive home?
By answering these questions, it will help you to get a good idea if you can travel further away or if it is better to stay closer to home. For simple day trips, we usually choose not to drive more than 2.5 hours away from home.
Step#3: Choose your day trip location and activity. Now it’s time for the fun part, to plan what you see and do! Will you go sightseeing or participate in something more hands-on?
When planning your day trip activities, consider the family members you are traveling with. Do you have babies, toddlers, or elderly people coming with you? Consider them also when making plans. Choose activities that everyone can enjoy to make sure the entire family has a good time!
Need help finding trip day activities? Use Google to your advantage. If you want to stay close to home, use Google to search “family activities near me”. If you don’t mind traveling further away from home, choose a city to travel to and use Google to search “family activities in (city name)”.
Step #4: Plan your route. Now is the time to plan how your trip will go. Some people like to be spontaneous when traveling, but I personally like a little more structure with my plans since we travel with kids. I like to plan:
- What time will we leave?
- What time do we want to come home?
- Will we make stops along the way?
When using a travel schedule, be sure to remain flexible in case you want to grab a last-minute dessert at an ice cream shop or your drive past a new attraction you want to stop and see. The goal is to have fun, so allow room for some spontaneity!
Step #5:Prepare and pack. In the days leading up to your family day trip, begin to prepare and pack. The more things you prepare and pack, the less money you will have to spend while you are away from home. If you are driving make sure you are up-to-date with all car maintenance, and fill your gas tank the night before you leave to save time.
The night before your day trip:
- pack all the bags you are taking with you
- make lunches (if you don’t plan on eating at restaurants)
- review your travel plans
- be sure you have your license and ids
If you are traveling with small children, be sure to pack:
- simple snacks
- extra diapers and wipes
- car activities to keep them occupied
- change of clothes