Day trip vs. overnight

This weekend we took the kids to the Indianapolis Zoo for a day trip. It’s a little over two hours from hour house, and I wanted to stay overnight, maybe get a hotel with a pool and free breakfast, but Chris talked me out of it in the name of saving a few bucks, and I’m so glad he did. See, we did an overnight trip this summer and I was STRESSED OUT. Did we have everything? Did everyone have enough toys/snacks? Did we have our confirmation number? Did we get a clean room? Did we lose the room key? Did we wake up in time for the free breakfast? So many concerns with an overnight in a hotel. And yes, there’s that element of fun, that feeling of taking a vacation, but for only one night, it doesn’t last long.

Zoo collage

I don’t love driving in general, but I don’t hate it. I usually listen to an audiobook or a mixed CD of my own creation (long live the mix tape!) and it’s pretty Zen. But with two children and another adult to contend with, the day can get pretty long. My no-fail formula for the day trip is this:

  • For the drive there, bring snacks for the kids. LOTS of snacks.
  • Do the kid-centered activity first
  • Eat a big lunch
  • Do something you wanted to do on the day trip, like go shopping (or another equally adult activity)
  • Head home and pray the kids nap in the car

Of course, it doesn’t always go so smoothly. Saturday I packed a huge lunchbox full of snacks and they were gone after an hour and a half. The bounty of snacks was supposed to last all day! Luckily I found a candy bar and half a stick of gum in my purse or we would have never made it through that 20-minute drive from the zoo to lunch.

But what I’m reflecting on today is how much less stressed I was doing a day trip vs. staying overnight. I didn’t have to pack bags for three people. I didn’t have to worry about whether I remembered to bring my toothbrush. Or my pajamas. My stress didn’t boil over and start to affect the mood of our trip. I was fine. And best of all, I got to sleep in my own bed when we got home. Sure, I slept like a rock and Chris told me later I was snoring like an old man, but that’s OK. We got home, put the kids to bed, watched some TV, and went to bed ourselves. It was a long day but a good day and I’m so glad we did it.



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