Day trips with kids are a fantastic way to start building travel confidence for you and your children. Do you want to travel but don’t think you have the time or budget to get away? Consider doing a family adventure for the day! I know a lot of moms and dads that think traveling with young kids is out of the question. Here at Mommy And Me Travels, we are living proof that you don’t have to wait for your kids to get older. Don’t put your life on hold and/or deny yourself and your kids the experiences that the world has to offer. Day trips are a great way to start traveling with your kids that will allow you to start building confidence for those longer trips. First Tip is to remember that the trip needs to be something you can drive to and from in one day while getting to experience more of the location then of the road. You may ask, how do I decided a good distance to travel? We find that a good length of time on the road is max 2 hours each way. If you try to push much longer than 2 hours, you will quickly realize the younger kids will start to get restless in a car. Day trips are one of our favorite things to do on the weekend. We aim at doing at least one day trip a month.
Moving a lot has afforded us the opportunity to experience adventures many places around the United States and the World. One of the first things I do is go to google maps and pin my new location. Don’t move often, no worries, start by exploring the things around you now. Traveling with your children will help them to gain an interest in exploring the world while also gaining an appreciation of trying new things. The earlier you can start them traveling the better! Let’s get started by planning your first day trip!
Go to your favorite map website, pin in your location, and print map as large view area. Measure out a point 2 hours (or your ideal time) by driving to the north, south, east, and west. These are your starting points. Draw a circle around your area connecting these points. Now research the towns within your circle and see what hidden gems might be available for you and the kiddos to go explore. You never know what you will find until you look. As a reminder, kids of most ages are not going to enjoy seeing churches and museums (unless of course it is a children’s museum). Finding things that your little ones will enjoy doing will make traveling with them all the more fun. Theme parks, zoos, children’s museums, easy hikes, beaches (if you are in that area), swimming spots, train rides, boat rides, the list goes on and on. Second Tip: Just make sure the day is filled with fun things that your child can touch, feel, taste, and explore. Interactive days will make the trip more enjoyable for you and for them. All of these things should be taken into account during your planning phase.
Day Trips to Big Cities:
Are you starting to feel overwhelmed about visiting a big city in one day? Don’t be! If within your circle is a big city, try to decide on only 1 or 2 events for the day (make one of them kid friendly). Don’t try to over plan the day and cram too much into one trip. Big cities offer lots of activities and always have new things available to see and do. Third Tip: Alternate day trips between the big city and smaller location. You might visit the big city 10 times before you finish all of the activities but it might take you visiting 100 times also. However many times you decide to visit, try diving into something new each time. This will make the experience feel new and rewarding and not burn you out on the drive and adventures of that city.
Day Trips in Rural Areas:
If you live only within a rural area, don’t feel discouraged. There are many things that are offered at rural locations. Do you enjoy: fishing, hunting, hiking, biking, the list is endless, not to mention that kids usually enjoy all of these activities. Rural areas offer new types of family fun that you can enjoy. Even traveling to a river and hiking downstream for a picnic in a new area will excite the family. Kids also LOVE animals. Make finding birds, butterflies, squirrels, and other animals in your area an adventure for your little ones. It will keep them occupied and probably give you plenty of laughable moments as they try to chase down that bird that they just can’t catch.
What to Pack:
I know what you are thinking… Pack but I’m only going on a day trip? Even day tripping needs a little planning to ensure a smooth experience for you and your kids.
Traveling with a baby? Here are things to consider taking:
- Diapers and Wipes – make sure to pack enough plus a few extras just in case
- Easy transport carrier for baby items – we always used our portable clutch (available here from Amazon)
- Extra Clothes – you never know when there will be an accident
- Food – Pack at least a few snacks and if your baby is still small, enough formula (if you use it)
- Toys – Packing a few rattles or a favorite stuffed animal will help keep baby entertained
- Baby Carrier or Stroller – Whatever your preference and day activities fit best (Brighter Elements Carrier)
Traveling with a toddler? Think about these things:
- Food – kiddos get hungry often when they are bored, like sitting in a car, having snacks on hand will help with those hunger fits
- Extra Clothes – accidents still happen when toddlers are involved, be it spilled milk or an accident in the pants
- Toys – Let your toddler pick out 3 of their favorite toys (appropriate sized of course)
- Stroller – Your little love will quickly turn into a monster when they get tired of walking, make sure you are prepared for when that happens
- First Aid Kit – During this phase of life falls are bound to happen, make sure you have bandages and anti-bacterial wipes ready. We always keep a larger first aid car. Don’t forget to add the mommy kisses to make it feel better ☺
- Medicines – I like to keep children’s Tylenol, Motrin, and Benadryl on hand for when we travel, just in case (don’t forget to check with your kids doctor before giving any meds)
Traveling with an older child? Think about these things:
- Food – Same as a toddle, kids get hungry when bored
- Extra Clothes – accidents still happen even as kids get bigger
- Electronics or Books – Even for a short drive, things are smoother when kids are entertained in the car
- First Aid Kit – make sure you are ready for those “oh my goodness” moments
- Medicines – See the above list and check with your doctors
Now that we have covered the above essentials, check out these great tips provided by the travel experts themselves, the kids!
Hilarious and Surprisingly Useful Travel Tips from Kids
Get Out And Enjoy!
Getting out and enjoying family adventures, especially when the kids are younger, helps to build strong family ties and gives you and your family memories that will last a life time. Day trips with kids can sometimes seem overwhelming but I hope that armed with the above information you are ready to tackle this exciting family experience. An added bonus, day trips are normally budget friendly and easy to accomplish. Even traveling just for the day will provide you an experience that you might never have even known about.
Do you have ideas to share? What are some of your favorite activities on day trips? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Happy Day Trip Travels!
Here is one of our many fun day trips we took. The Barefoot Park.