Day Trips: Parents’ Day Off

Ash and I don’t go out often.

We tend to be homebodies, happy to spend our time together after Jai’s gone to bed. But we do try to get a night or a day off by ourselves at least once a month.

Leaving Jai is less of a problem given all that I do to prep him and the caregiver for our time away. Figuring out what to do for Ash and me – that can be a problem. Many times we go see a movie or out to dinner, but we end up having a lot of extra time either before or after the event and end up being aimless for the rest of our date.

Part of the problem is we don’t manage our time well. We aren’t exactly rushing to get back to Jai, but we do end up cutting our nights shorter because we can’t figure out what to do with ourselves.

One type of date with the most kind of success for both of us is the day trip where we go outside our comfort zones.

Considering a Day Trip

We can’t take day trips all the time, but they are perfect for our once a month outings. Taking a Saturday or a Sunday to get out of the area to do something fun is a fantastic way to reconnect and try something new.

Especially as parents, we’ve found that whenever we take a day trip somewhere we say to ourselves how much fun Jai would have if we take him there. More on that Friday. But these trips also double as reconnaissance for things to do with a toddler.

Day trips can be a road trip to a specific destination or becoming a tourist in your own city. It depends on the mood, desire, and time frame. Most of the time Ash and I limit ourselves to locations within a 3-hour drive from Jai.

When he’s ready to be away from both of us for more than 24-hours we will consider longer trips that can take us overnight.

I love day trips because many times it gets us away from the big city and into the countryside for a nice long drive. I love getting away from technology and the confines of the urban setting to recharge my batteries. I find that I get stressed if I spend too much time in the concrete jungle so taking a day to unwind out of my normal environment helps manage my personal stress.

Plan Ahead: Making the Most of it

We struggle with time management on our date nights, but when it comes to a day trip we’re a little more focused on how to make the trip go smoothly and make the most of it. I am a planner so I try to run through these steps each time we do a day trip to a specific destination:

  • Figure out where we are going. This seems obvious, but this can cause the most stress during the back-and-forth of “what do you want to do?” “I dunno, what do you want to do?” conversation
  • Ask ourselves the following questions: how long will it take to get there, how are we planning on getting there, and how long we want to spend there
  • Set up a budget for the day: how much money do we want to spend on gas, entertainment, and food
  • Do some research on the location: what it is known for, what are some major activities, great places to eat, etc.
  • Figure out the parking situation and make a parking structure our destination if we plan to wander around the destination
  • Check the weather and set up contingency plans if most of our day revolves around being outside for extended periods
  • Decide if we’re bringing snacks or stopping along the way
  • Finally: make sure the vehicle we plan to use is all up-to-date with oil and other maintenance checks

Sometimes I like to just take a road trip with no specific destination in mind. Ash doesn’t care for these day trips as much because he likes to know where he’s going and he does not like to drive for long spans of time. To help make these trips go smoothly for him I do these steps:

  • Figure out if there’s an end-point destination: i.e. a city/town that has something interesting for Ash to look forward to doing
  • Do we take a scenic route or a more direct route (usually I prefer scenic)
  • What are some stops along the way: i.e. towns with restaurants, points of interest, or other things that might interest Ash or me
  • Figure out who is going to do the bulk of the driving. It’s usually me because Ash doesn’t like to drive for long, so that means I need to be well-rested and hyped up on caffeine before we head out the door

Flexibility: the Name of the Game

Planning is important, but maintaining flexibility is even more important. I find that our trips are more enjoyable if we still play it by ear, but have knowledge about our options. Ash loves to take a more relaxed approach, as do I most of the time.

The research is meant to prevent confusion over what we will do once we get to our destination. We’ve done a couple trips where we got to our destination and then waste half our time trying to figure out what exactly we want to do, which causes frustration because I always feel time’s been wasted.

Having flexibility in the back of our mind helps alleviate possible stress over timelines, sold out venues, or busy restaurants. If we have a strict timeline in place with little wiggle-room, then when we run into unforeseen construction that delays us for over an hour, it can get tense because all I can think about is what we’re missing.

What helps me is keeping this at the forefront of my mind: if we really enjoy ourselves this time but don’t get to do everything we want, then it’s an excuse to either return alone or bring Jai along next time.

Having Fun

If I am stressed walking out the door it’s not going to make for a fun trip.

I have to get into the car and remind myself that this is meant to be time alone with my partner. We are spending time together and that’s all that matters. Taking a few minutes to calm and recenter helps ensure that the trip goes exactly as planned: fun time alone with Ash.

If there’s too much stuff packed into this trip, or everything that can go wrong does, it’s time to re-evaluate and do something else with our time. This can be scrapping the trip altogether or changing our destination to someplace else. It might be disappointing, but it’s important to keep the time special and fun. These sorts of scenarios are rare, I believe we only had to scrap/readjust one trip due to weather, so maintaining a positive attitude that we will be able to have fun regardless is key.

What are some of your favorite day trips? What were your destinations and how did you make it special? Leave a comment with your experiences.


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9 thoughts on “Day Trips: Parents’ Day Off

  1. My boyfriend and I don’t do trips as often as we should, and we don’t even have children yet! Day trips sound fun and we’re a short drive from a major city since we live in a rural area. No idea why we don’t plan to do anything, really. We mostly sit around the house and watch movies together then end up falling asleep. Lol!

    • MS//Mommy

      You sound like my husband and myself before we had Jai. We still love to sit and watch movies/tv shows at night when the little one goes to sleep. Sometimes it’s the simple and easy things that are more meaningful.

  2. NPC

    We love to go anywhere, whenever we can. We usually go into Michigan or drive up to Toronto. We love to get away!

  3. Pingback: Day Trips: Bringing along Toddler | MS//Mommy

  4. Gemille Sleweon

    There are few things I love more than road trips, especially road trips with people I love. I’m glad you guys were able to get away.

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