How Far is Too Far – Making the Most of Your Long Weekend

Photo by kaka bianchin

A long weekend is approaching.  The kids have an extra day off school and you and your spouse, unbelievably, can take off a day from your work.  What does that spell?  Opportunity.

No, not opportunity to get things done around the house!  There will always be things to do around the house.  And no, not an opportunity to go to the zoo, again!  Really, how many times are your going to drag them there before they form a mutiny and drive that car off a cliff?  

It’s time to change your mind set.  This opportunity is meant for a trip!  A real trip.  I’m not talking about a few roadside amusements designed to make you think you’ve gone on a trip.  You know those trips; the ones when you get home you see the projects still waiting around your house and wished you stayed home.  

No, I’m talking about a real, honest to goodness trip.  I’m talking about fun.  Think big, think far, think fun!  Lots of people think they can’t go far from home because the amount of travel is disproportionate to the time spent at the destination.  This is just wrong.  If you’re traveling across the country (let’s say Philadelphia to San Francisco).  You’re looking at less than one day’s travel for two days of fun.  That’s 80% fun and 20% travel, come on, that statistic is on your side.  You’ve got to go. 

Still not convinced, check out these travel tips to help you make the most of the trip. 

Getting there:

Travel Tip:  Have a security plan.  Everyone should know what is necessary before getting the front of the line.  Give each person a job to do, going into security and don’t forget getting out of security.  Little ones can be responsible for getting their shoes and jackets off and back on and maybe even a small bag.  Go through what you and your spouse are going to do, one gets the stroller, one gets the car seat, one gets the big suitcase, etc.  There’s less confusion when people know what they are responsible for (feel free to use this tip outside the security line too, it works just about everywhere). 

Travel Tip: You must be humble to the security gods.  Just because you’ve successfully managed you and your kids through security once (or even multiple times), it doesn’t mean you will every time. 

Travel Tip:  If you have extra time, it’s a great idea to let your children play before getting them into that plane seat, especially when it’s a long flight.  Some airports even have designated play areas.  Check before you get there and determine their proximity to your gate.

Travel Tip:  If you do let them play, be sure to bring your cell phone with you no matter what.  You will at least have a clock with you to monitor the time or to receive the frantic phone call from your partner, advising you to hurry up and get back to the gate, now – the flight is boarding!

Travel Tip: Even though you feel the pressured stares of other travelers and airport/airplane personnel, try to take your time.  This is a hard one but you’ll find you save more time and tears then if you get frustrated and rush. 

Travel Tip:  No matter what happens, at the airport or on the plane, don’t worry about it.  Just go on about your business and make the best of it.  Sometimes it helps to offer your apologies to others, sometimes its best just to keep moving – I leave it to your best judgment.  Besides, you’re probably used to this from the grocery store!

While you’re there:

 
Travel Tip:  Bring your own GPS.  You can rent them from your rental car agency but it’s just easier and cheaper to use one you are familiar with.  Be sure to double check any addresses for your GPS.  Things may have changed and you might not have the latest and greatest. 

Travel Tip: If you are going to need a meal upon arrival, do a bit of research before your trip to find a close restaurant which fits your needs.  It’s better to know where you are going when you are starving instead of settling for the first place, which might be awful or great, it’s really just not worth the risk.  You can even save time and preprogram it into your GPS (see above tip). 

Travel Tip:  Finding a hotel with an indoor swimming pool is a must.  If it rains or if you have down time, there is nothing like a hotel pool.  It might seem boring to you but I guarantee kids love the hotel pool.  Don’t be surprised (or upset) if it turns out to be one of their favorite parts.

Travel Tip:  Try to find a hotel that offers breakfast.  When you have a family, it makes it easier to deal with various wake-up times, picky eaters, and sleepy kids who might not be ready to decide on what to eat in a restaurant (and then actual eat what they picked and now you have to pay for). 
 
Travel Tip:  Traveling to new places allows for new conversations.  Use the opportunity to discuss things as a family that you might never talk about at home.

Here is the most important tip, keep an adventurous spirit.  So many people don’t travel to great destinations because they believe it’s too far and it’s not worth it if there is only a limited time to spend there.  This is so not true!  We’ve been on many short trips to really far-away places that have brought our family lots of fun and memories we will never forget. 

Try it, you might like it!

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