Throughout all of quarantine, we have enjoyed some mini day trips and outings. It has helped keep all of us sane. Even when we weren't in quarantine, I discovered that it was good for all of us to bond over activities like day trips. My step-kids, like most young people, will open up and share life a lot more if we are bonding over an experience or activity. Plus, we create some really fun memories.
We have enjoyed everything from amusement parks, state parks, shopping at TJ Maxx or Target, to getting ice cream.
If you have teens or tweens in your home, here are a few things I have learned about day outings during my two years as a bonus mom.
1) Keep it a reasonable distance away (an hour at most). Even older kids (and adults) can get the "are we there yets," not to mention if you are just going for the day you don't want to use your whole day in the car.
2) keep the length of the entire trip between 2-6 hours (this will vary depending on what activity you are doing). We can all tire out (especially during COVID with mask protocols, social distancing, etc. and we all know our limits).
3) save money by doing things outdoors or packing a lunch-Even before COVID, I would try to choose activities that we could pack a picnic--unless our activity was going out to lunch. If that is the case, we try to choose a place like Culver's that is affordable.
4) going to Starbucks or Caribou IS an outing :) I have a coffee addiction and I am not ashamed to admit it! If the kids have learned anything from me, I am sure it would revolve around the idea that every good road trip starts with a fun drink from a drive-thru.
5) Use your resources-there is always so MUCH to be explored right in our own backyard. Go the library, look up local parks, walking trails, etc. Pinterest and Instagram are also great resources. I follow a few tourism pages and accounts and get ideas from them regularly.
Here are two examples of these little mini day trips that we have enjoyed this spring/summer.
Mini Day trip to Stillwater, MN:
1) Distance-45 min car trip
2) We departed at 10 am and were home by 3 pm.
3) Itinerary-Starbucks stop, shopping trip at Target, walk around park in Stillwater and take pictures of bridge; walk around downtown; stop at Culver's for lunch.
4) You can read about Stillwater here. It really is such a fun little town.
5) When everything reopens again, you will find Chuck and I regularly eating and exploring Stillwater. Lots of future reports and posts to come!
See? A very simple and frugal plan. However, when we returned home we all felt we had enjoyed a nice day out and a much needed change of scenery.
Here is example #2 to Eau Claire, WI.
1) Distance-60 minute car trip
2) We left at 10 am and again were home by around 2:30 pm.
3) Itinerary-We drove straight to Eau Claire and went to Carson Park. I lived in Eau Claire for almost a year and a half and it is still one of my favorite spots. Carson Park features everything from walking trails, views of the lake, a small baseball stadium, a horseshoes tournament facility, park, and pavilions. We decided to just walk around and explore. I would say we were there for about an hour and a half. We also spent a little time at the playground where there are all sorts of things to climb on. Even older kids (especially tweens) still need time to exert energy and PLAY. In fact, finding a sense of play is good for all of us.
After we finished at the park, we went to a nearby McDonald's. We had some McDonald's gift cards and the kids loved getting drive thru and just sitting in the car and eating it! It doesn't have to be fancy or expensive!
We hope to continue exploring and doing mini road trips this summer. We also have a couple other bigger trips planned as well. I can't wait to share our adventures with you! As we all continue to get through COVID, we have to give ourselves things to look forward to. I am excited for things to get better and hopefully lots more trips next year. Until then, we are enjoying the little things.