We left early enough so we could make a couple of stops on our way such as checking out the visitors center in Denali and the science building with dinosaurs. We also made a stop at a place called Glitter Gulch with lots of shops including one that made great fudge. We made it in time for dinner at mile post 229, had dinner and drove home.
It took us one day and we had a blast. When you can't take time off to travel very far, one can still get away by taking a day trip. A day trip gets you away, gives you a change, and doesn't have to cost much more than the gas, possibly meals, and perhaps admission to something. It all depends. A day trip does require some planning but the rewards can be quite nice.
First of all, decide how far you are willing to travel to your destination. Ours was a couple hundred miles south and quite doable. In addition, is everyone going on the trip an adult or will there be kids? How old are the kids? Are they used to taking trips or do they start driving you crazy after a couple of hours in the car? These are things to consider when setting your destination?
The next thing to look at is what activity do you want to do? If you aren't sure what activities are at your destination, go online and look. This will help you figure out what you want to do. Is there a museum with a dinosaur exhibit? A place that celebrates Christmas all year round? An amusement park? Search for any type of activity you can from museums, to farmers markets, to rodeos, and more. Prepare a list of possibilities and then decide which one or ones would be the best for your group. I have siblings who take day trips to a few places so they can pick up certain wines they can't find locally.
After you've decided on where and what, think about meals. Will you be eating at a nice restaurant or somewhere that is easier like McDonalds because your children are with you? Do you have the money to spend or will you bring a cooler with supplies in it so you can pull into a rest area or park and enjoy a meal. There is no rule that says you have to eat out all the time.
You are going to need to plan a budget which includes admission fees, gas, food, and possibly souvenirs plus a bit extra for emergencies. Not all things require admission fees but it is important to know if the place you chose does charge them and how much. Is the rate going to be per person or do they offer a family rate that is better than multiple individual rates? Do they offer a better price for under a certain age or possibly even free with an adult? If you are going to a museum or zoo, it might be cheaper to get a family membership if that membership includes two or three free admissions as part of the perks.
Think about the route you will take. Sometimes, there is only one route to get there such as when we went to Denali Park, while other times you may have several options. You want to look at all possibilities because sometimes there are cool things located along one route but not another. When I was in Utah and we took a day trip, on one route, there was a place with space missiles so we went that way to the place where the railroads from the east and west met. Once we were done, we headed back via a slightly different route to see other things.
Before you actually leave home, check the car out. Make sure it has enough gas, the oil is topped off, the tires are in good shape and even take it in for a regularly scheduled tune up a bit before its due so your vehicle is in good shape. In addition, check to see if your roadside assistance is up to date and you have the necessary phone numbers in case there is a problem.
Last thing to look at is what do you need to bring. Will you need swimsuits, jackets, snacks? Are you bringing your own food so you'll need a cooler. Are the little ones likely to fall asleep while traveling? You might want to throw in a pillow and personal blanket. On the day, have a check list of everything that needs to go into the car, and go down the list to make sure everything is in there.
Do this and you will have done everything possible to have a fantastic trip. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.