Tips for Planning the Perfect Day Trip


Few things are more freeing and relaxing than packing up a bag, hitting the road or catching a flight and visiting a new place. Exploring exotic destinations and sampling local cuisine are amazing ways to unwind and explore the world we call home. Unfortunately, such adventures aren’t always feasible. Between busy work schedules, family obligations and other day-to-day commitments, finding the time to get away is no easy task. And with inflation sending prices skyrocketing, coming up with the cash for an extended vacation is tricky too.

You don’t have to give up on your dream of getting away for a while, though! You just may need to scale back a bit and opt for a day trip instead of a big, multi-day vacation. Though often dismissed as the least desirable type of adventure, day trips are perfect for checking out places in your own proverbial backyard and experiencing the best of what your region has to offer through the eyes of a tourist rather than a local. Day trips don’t get nearly as much as they should, but we’re here to change that! With careful planning, you and your family or friends can enjoy an awesome adventure without having to worry about airfare or hotel rooms. Read on to discover a few tips for planning the perfect day trip.

1. Pack Food and Drinks

No matter where you are going or what you’re doing, always pack food and drinks. Even if you set out for a destination with plenty of places to eat, it never hurts to have some snacks in the car. Plus, if your day trip will have you away from home all day, you can save yourself a considerable amount of money by packing a lunch, so you only need to go out for dinner. And with reusable silicone bags, you can pack anything from chips and cookies to sandwiches and other road trip favorites.

Anticipate your beverage needs, too. Stopping at gas stations for bottled water and soda adds up, and all of those disposable bottles aren’t good for the planet. Instead, use insulated drinkware to quench your thirst all day long while keeping cold drinks cool and hot drinks warm.

Packing food and drinks might not seem like a big deal, but if you’ve ever been stuck on a long drive or had your car break down when you’re hungry or thirsty and have nothing to eat or drink, you already understand why this is so important.

2. Establish a Budget

Before deciding where to go and what to do, you need to know how much you can spend. Consider gas costs, tickets, entrance fees and any other expenses you may encounter. Make sure you have extra, too, in case of emergencies.

3. Decide Where to Go and Plan Your Route

This is the fun part! With your budget in mind, start thinking about activities and destinations in your area. Maybe there’s a state park you haven’t visited in a while or a new museum you’ve been dying to check out with the family. If you’re not sure what to do, head to Google for some ideas for local things to do. Search for activities, events, tours, parks, museums, etc. to find the perfect day trip destination. Trying searching for “things to do + city name” for inspiration. If you’ll be spending the day with your kids, ask them if they have any fun ideas.

Plan your route after choosing a destination. You don’t have to get out a map, but you should at least check the GPS to see how long the trip will take. Spend some time researching attractions in the cities you’ll drive through along the way too. Your research may uncover some awesome hidden gems right off the beaten path that you would otherwise miss.

4. Don’t Be Afraid of a Long Drive

Don’t let the idea of spending too much time in the car dissuade you from visiting places that are a few hours away. Driving four hours one way, checking out some attractions and then driving home may seem like a lot, but it’s not as bad as you might think. This is especially true if multiple people can split driving responsibilities.

If you’re going somewhere relatively far away, don’t sleep in! By 8:00 a.m., a third of the day is already over. Even if you normally sleep in on weekends, get up bright and early and get on the road as quickly as possible. The less time you spend snoozing, the more time you’ll have to explore your chosen destination.

5. Plan Your Wardrobe Accordingly

Check the weather forecast for your destination before setting out on your adventure, and dress appropriately. Consider your planned activities too. Regardless of the weather, your attire for a day spent hiking will be vastly different from what you’d wear to the theater. Be mindful of where you’re going and what you’re doing when choosing your outfit for the day. If necessary, bring an extra set of clothes. Dressing in layers works well, too, especially at times when it’s chilly in the mornings and evenings but warm in the afternoon. Trust us, dressing inappropriately is one of the easiest ways to ensure a miserable, uncomfortable day.

6. Make Sure Your Car Is Road Trip Ready

Before you hit the road, check your oil and tires. Fill up the tank with gas and make sure you have plenty of washer fluid. If you’ve noticed any problems with your vehicle, have them repaired before setting out on a long drive. Spending a day on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck is not a fun adventure.

Closing Thoughts

Don’t let a busy schedule or limited finances keep you from exploring the world around you and enjoying your days off. Whether you travel solo or with family or friends, a well-planned day trip can be an awesome adventure. What are you waiting for? Fill up your water bottle and start planning your next trip!