Having a day out with the family seems like such a great idea. It will be a chance to bond and spend valuable family time together, to offer educational experiences to your children and aid in their development, and most of all for everyone to have fun!
Unfortunately it doesn’t always turn out this way. The reality can be marred with tantrums, bad weather, logistical issues and other disasters. None of these are a reason to avoid planning a family day out and the benefits it will bring.
Some of these are unavoidable and simply the reality of having a young family. However, many can be avoided or minimalized by great planning. Here are some top tips on planning a great family day out so everyone gets the most out of the experience.
Where to Go on Your Day Out
The first and perhaps most important thing to consider when planning a family excursion is where to go. There are the old favourites, such as the beach or the park, which still make great destinations for wholesome family fun.
Here are some creative ideas for a family day out that you may not have thought about:
• Head to the local museum for a fun, interesting and educational experience. Look for museums which are aimed towards kids, or have kids exhibitions or activities. Many museums put on special programs for the school holidays so this is worth checking out.
• Explore parks in your area, beyond just the neighbourhood playground. Check out all the nearby parks, exploring their walking trails, and see if they offer additional playgrounds or other activities.
• If your kids are reasonably confident on two wheels, check out local biking trails in your area, or within driving distance.
• Check council and events pages for community activities, festivals and fetes. There may be an interesting, family-friendly fair happening in a nearby town or village!
How to Prepare
Once you’ve decided on the destination for your family’s amazing day out, now it’s time to do a little preparation. Some time and effort taken at this stage will save you a multitude of hassles later.
Make sure you do your research in advance about the attraction you’re planning to visit. Check opening hours, and if there are any irregular closures coming up. Thankfully the internet makes this very easy to do these days. If driving, it’s also a good idea to research the route and print out the map. This will save you fussing around with your phone, or getting lost if your signal lets you down.
When going to sights and attractions that have entry tickets, it’s a good idea to book your tickets online in advance, particularly if it is somewhere that may book out. If you’re wanting to head to a popular attraction but finding it hard to get tickets, Tour Scanner is a great place to find last minute tickets, as well as to find ideas for fun tours and attractions in your area.
Another item to prepare is cash – make sure you have enough cash on you. Many parks and natural attractions do accept credit or debit cards for their entry fees. It is particularly a good idea to have lots of small change for small activities and snacks.
Be sure to pack well (see our suggested packing list below). This includes packing for all weathers, and being prepared for rain, hail of shine. It is also a very good idea to pack a complete change of clothes for each child in case of unexpected disaster, weather-related or otherwise. Preparing some snacks is equally valuable for feeding hungry mouths on the go and staving off tantrums.
Finally, prepare your children by telling them where you’ll be going, the plan for the day, and particular expectations for their behaviour.
What to Pack
Finally, before you head out the door, make sure you’ve packed everything you need. Being properly equipped and having all the necessary supplies with you is key for dealing with whatever may come your way and adverting minor disasters.
Here is the essential packing list that will have you covered for most excursions:
• Wet weather jackets
• Sun cream
• Bug spray (DEET-free)
• Change of clothes (just in case!)
• Baby wipes/sterilising wipes/hand sterilising gel
• Picnic rug
• Water bottles
• Snacks such a fruit, cereal bars or crackers (or even better, a full picnic)
• First aid kit
• Anti-motion sickness wrist bands for long car journeys
• A few toys
Of course, some of these are seasonal, but packing most of these items could be handy year-round!