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How To Plan A Day Trip With The Family

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Day trips are fun adventures your family can take without having to plan an entire vacation away. Also known as "daycations," a day trip can be done in a single day, without requiring having to take time off of work or school. Day trips are an essential part when planning an entire staycation. However, no staycation is necessary. A day trip can be planned all on its own as part of a celebration or just as a chance for families to enjoy a day out together.

Here are some tips to help you plan your family's next day trip.

Set a Budget

Though you may not be traveling far, it is important to set a budget for the day and stick to it. Calculate everything you will want to do during the day, plus a little extra for unexpected expenses. Things to consider when setting a budget include gas, food, souvenirs, admission fees and miscellaneous expenses. Allow a little bit of a cushion for any unexpected emergencies during your day trip.

Do your best to stick within your budget and avoid any unnecessary expenses. By doing so, you will make it possible to enjoy another day trip down the road.

Determine the Distance

Determine how far you are willing to travel for your day trip. The destination must be one you are able to get to and back home from in the same day. That is what makes it a "day trip." Since there is no need for a hotel, you can focus on spending your money on doing different activities. Before selecting a destination, you must determine if you are able to drive there in the morning, be able to see everything you want to see and do and then drive safely home at night. If so, then the destination is perfect for your upcoming day trip.

Be a Tourist

Just because you are not traveling for your vacation does not mean you cannot act like a tourist. If you feel adventurous enough, put on that Hawaiian shirt, wide-brimmed hat and carry that camera around your neck. But that is not what is meant by acting like a tourist.

Even if you live in the immediate vicinity of where you are going for your daycation, it is important to think like a tourist when looking for things to do. Ask yourself what you want to see. Consider asking local hotels for suggested activities and attractions. By acting like a tourist, you will be able to see an area you may drive by regularly in an entirely different light. You may also discover some things you never knew existed in your hometown.

Get a change of scenery. If you live in the country, look for something to do in a nearby city. Or if you live in the city, take a trip to the country for a picnic and a chance to enjoy a day outdoors, biking, boating or just driving around looking at tourist hot spots.

Think of Places to Go

There are many places to visit for the day, many of which are within an hour drive. No matter where you live, finding places to go for the day is often a matter of thinking outside of the box. Be creative when coming up with somewhere to go on your next day trip.

Check out the local Convention and Visitors Bureau for a variety of information about things to do in you area. Another great place to visit and get information from is the Chamber of Commerce in your area and the area you plan to take a day trip to. Find out if there are any activities or special events planned for the area during the time you wish to take the day trip.

Travel guides and online websites for local cities and states are also great resources for selecting places to go for a day trip.

Children's Museums are great activities for a daycation (Credit, Heather Leigh Carroll)

Some of the best places to go for a daycation include:

  • National parks
  • Amusement parks
  • Museums (art, history, children's and science)
  • Beach
  • Sporting events
  • Fishing villages
  • River cruises

Other great locations for a day trip include small towns nearby. Many small towns offer unique shopping and dining venues, plus they are out of the way and not too busy. Small towns are the perfect destinations when looking to relax for the day.

Purchase all of the tickets you will need and make any dining reservations you can before leaving. This will help reduce time waiting in ticket lines and waiting for a table at a popular restaurant. Many touristy spots offer coupons and discounts on tours, meals and activities. Check local newspapers, magazines and destination websites for coupons and special discounts.

Take in the views on your day trip (Credit, Heather Leigh Carroll)

Plan the Day

Just because you are going to be gone for less than 24 hours, doesn't mean you do not need to make an itinerary for the day. Include everything you will want to do once you arrive. Coordinate opening and closing times with the amount of time you need to travel there and back.

To help ensure you get the most out of your time, plan to arrive before your destination opens. Depending upon where you are going, arriving early will ensure you find the best seats and see the most popular attractions before the crowds start arriving.

Pack a small bag with everything you will need, including snacks, drinks and games for the kids in the car. Also, consider packing an emergency car kit just in case anything happens along the way. The emergency car kit should include items such as band aids, antiseptic spray and pain relievers.

Hit the Road

Once everything has been planned and the day has arrived, it is time to hit the road. Fill the car up with gas the night before to avoid any delays stopping at gas stations along the way. Also, eat a big breakfast to keep you full until lunch time.

A great way to help save money that would have been spent on a long vacation is to enjoy your time at home. However, do not plan to stay at home the entire time. There are plenty of things to do in your area, it is just a matter of finding them. By planning your day trip, or daycation, you are able to save a significant amount of money, while customizing your day escape to your tastes and likes.

Your trip does not end at the end of the day. Once you return home, it is time to start saving and planning for your next day trip.

Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions - writing and travel - to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at
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