How do you take a day trip with kids?
Inside: How to take a day trip with kids. What to pack and how to find day trips near me for home adventures.
Gearing up for your first day trip with kids can feel as challenging as changing a tire on the side of the road in 90-degree weather.
Okay, perhaps that was a slight exaggeration.
I have learned what to pack, when to leave, and where to find a good day trip near me with much less stress.
If you want to get out of the house, THIS IS THE POST FOR YOU.
RELATED: Taking a family vacation? Here is your guide to road trips with kids.
Day trips with kids take time to find their rhythm
I vividly remember our first day trip with a baby blowout (of course, I forgot an extra diaper) and my toddler that did NOT want to leave the park. Then the lightning came, and we raced to the car, stuffing the stroller in the trunk as thunder boomed above me.
Was I intimidated? Put bluntly, yes. It was a fiasco.
And this hiccup could have caused me to pump the brakes on leaving the house with the kids.
Yet here I am. Taking Friday field trips for the last five years and posting what I have learned so you can get out of the house with kids and make the memories you crave.
We call our day trips Field Trip Friday
Friday works for us. It is the end of the week, and I am ready to peel out of the driveway on two wheels.
Taking a trip on Friday also allows me to pause with work and put my phone down.
Friday may not work for everyone.
Need a few clever day trip name ideas? I want to help you with that!
- Out of the House Wednesday
- Saturday Fun Day
- Trip Tuesday
You get the idea. Find the day that works best for your family and run with it!
PRO TIP: Keep when you take the day trips predictable to help everyone look forward to the change of pace.
Three questions I ask myself when heading out with kids
- Is there someone that may want to join us? I welcome any support!
- Am I comfortable here? If not, it’s okay to pack up and leave.
- Is this something for all ages? Sometimes children will surprise us with what they are capable of. Other times, I overjudge what we can do. Try and find the sweet spot.
Quick supply list of items mentioned in this post:
Related: Here are nine tips that help when I feel overwhelmed.
Here is how to take a day trip with kids
TIP 1: PICK A PLACE THAT MAKES SENSE FOR YOUR SEASON OF LIFE
Going to the zoo on trip number one can be tempting.
However, starting with simple day trips such as a new park, finding a soccer field to kick the ball, or meeting a friend at a smaller botanical garden may be a better fit for the first few rounds.
Visit the exact location a few times to build a solid routine around how everyone enters the area and leaves.
Day trip ideas with toddlers:
- Children’s time at the library
- A walk around the block collecting pine cones
- Trip to a new park
- Strawberry picking in an open field
- Walking the aisles of Target, testing out new toys
- Finding a family fitness class near me online
- Checking out a new (and smaller) indoor jump place
You can add more to your days as you get your groove and feel comfortable with your children outside the house.
This leads me to tip #2.
TIP 2: PICK A PLACE YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH
I like to pick places that have other families around and have helpers.
We leave whenever I planned a trip that didn’t feel right upon arrival. – This is nonnegotiable, and I listen to my instincts.
My children may be upset that we are leaving, but the most important thing is that we go somewhere I can feel good about.
TIP 3: WEAR THE SAME COLOR SHIRT
Tip three for day trips with kids is having them all wear the same color.
I got away with everyone wearing the same shirt for years, which was extremely helpful. If I cannot find the same shirt, I aim for the same color and try to pick a less common color.
With younger children, you can make a Field Trip Friday shirt that is the shirt you wear for every field trip.
SUGGESTED COLORS TO WEAR:
- bright yellow
TIP 4: ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO CARRY THEIR GEAR
Before leaving for a day trip, we all pack our items.
We use these day packs; you can see them in the photo above.
PRO TIP: Keep the day packs light. If a child is over-ambitious when packing, allow them to give it a try so you can remind them next time how it felt with too many items. Children learn with experiences.
Inside our day packs are:
- water bottle
- zip-up sweatshirt if needed
Can the boys put the pack in the stroller? Absolutely. But we must first build the habit of packing and leaving the house. As the day goes on, and they get tired of carrying it, they can toss it in.
TIP 5: PACK A PORTABLE POTTY
This is a no-brainer.
We purchased the portable potty six years ago, and it still lives in our car.
Perfect for emergencies and for bathrooms you would rather not enter.
Hands down, GET THIS PORTABLE, POTTY.
TIP 6: MELTDOWNS ARE COMMON
Meltdowns happen at home.
Meltdowns happen on day trips.
Even I have an occasional meltdown on a day trip with kids.
As you are on your field trip, remember to welcome emotions and bring snacks. (wink, wink) – no, I am not saying to cover emotions with food, but sometimes meltdowns come from being over tired, heated, or hungry.
SO BRING SNACKS. (I know you know this)
Also, remember that anyone around you with kids has children with meltdowns.
Less shame and more acceptance.
I bet someone wants to fist bump you from the other side of the playground letting you know you are not alone.
TIP 7: TALK BEFORE YOU LEAVE FOR YOUR DAY TRIP
Staying together is my number one rule. The more we go on field trips, the better we all become at staying together.
If we cannot figure that part out, we leave. Period.
My children will only understand how to work together with practice, setting boundaries on my nonnegotiables, and sticking with them.
- Before you head out, discuss the plan.
- Talk about where you are going.
- Make a quick map to outline the destination.
Conversations like this will set you up for success and keep everyone on the same page.
TIP 8: LEAVE BEFORE THE BREAKING POINT
When is the best time to leave an event or day trip? Right before the breaking point.
From my experience, I have learned if I leave too late, it is harder to get back in the car.
PRO TIP: Tell your child it is almost time to go. Ask your child what the one thing that they would like to do before you leave is.
Leave knowing you had a great day; next week, there will be something else to look forward to.
TIP 9: HAVE YOUR CHILD TAKE PICTURES
Oh, this camera has been a joy in my boy’s childhood.
This camera is no frills. It takes simple pictures and allows families to upload them onto their computers for a family slide show.
This simple camera is a fun insight into how your child view’s what they experienced.