Are you ready to hop in the car for a much-needed day trip? Maybe you long for a change of scenery or adventure. Great news: You can have a fun day of travel and stay close to your home.

Day trips are a journey that only lasts a day, usually within a short drive but could also be right in your neighborhood. But why take such a short outing? Some people like to keep their day travel close to home. They might have a tight budget or other obligations that demand they stay relatively close.

Whether you choose a day trip over a more extended vacation, spending quality time together is the key. What good does it do you if you make great money at work but never get to enjoy it? You’ll never regret making memories with those you love most.

A study published by the U.S. Travel Association concludes that Americans left 768 million unused paid vacation days on the table in 2018. This number represents at least 55 percent of Americans who reported they never used their vacation. You can break the disturbing trend by not being part of those statistics.

Ten Useful Travel Tips for Your Next Day Trip

Does the thought of packing your suitcases and traveling around for a week make you feel exhausted? You can have as much fun and less hassle if you take several mini-vacations throughout the year. Consider these ten tips for a fantastic day trip for you and your family.

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1. Choose a Destination for Your Day Trip

Traveling isn’t an issue if you want a peaceful break to unwind at home. However, you have many destination choices if you take a day excursion. It depends on whether you want to spend more time driving to get to a destination or prefer something close to home.

Do some research online on prospective places you want to visit. Some of the most scenic and exciting destinations may be in your county or state. Your getaway may also be an attraction like an amusement park, famous landmark, or national forest.

2. Plan Your Day Trip Route

Back in the days before GPS and the internet, travelers relied on maps and atlases to get where they were going. If you belonged to an auto club, you could get a printed road trip planner. You may accidentally find some of the most breathtaking scenes, attractions, and delicious restaurants.

Now, you can enter your destination on your smartphone or vehicle GPS, and you’ll get turn-by-turn directions. They can guide you to lodging, restaurants, and other points of interest almost anywhere. You’re only limited by your time and budget.

If you use GPS regularly, you realize it has some flaws. Do yourself a favor and print out online directions for a backup. You’re also wise to keep a current atlas handy in case you get lost or want to expand your travel area.

While planning your route, check the weather forecast for your location and destination. You don’t want to plan a day on the beach if it’s going to storm the entire time. Likewise, a winter storm can create hazardous traveling conditions, and you could get stuck for a few days.

3. Do Some Value Shopping

If you are taking a day trip to enjoy the views on the road, you may not leave the car except for a bathroom break. However, your excursion may include shopping, visiting museums, and other points of interest. You can often find considerable discounts for tickets and groups if you call or purchase online.

Fortunately, you can visit some of America’s most beautiful spots for free or with a nominal parking fee. State and national parks offer scenic beauty, wildlife viewing, and other nature activities. You can get discounts for attractions like theaters, museums, and amusement parks if you’re a student, senior, or veteran.

Reputable online services offer group discounts for travel, lodging, shopping, and other interests. You can often get a better deal if traveling with a larger group. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for any available discounts because businesses will usually oblige.

4. Pack Some Snacks

One of the benefits of day trips or longer excursions is a chance to try new restaurants. You may find an unassuming eatery with unique dishes in the middle of nowhere.

Pack snacks and drinks if you get the munchies on the road. You can save significantly on costs by avoiding fast food, convenient marts, and questionable gas station fare. Bring a little basket of healthy, non-perishable treats and a cooler with water, juice, and soft drinks.

5. Safety First When You Travel

You have a first aid kit at home, but you also need one for your vehicle. An emergency can arise even during a day trip; you must be prepared. Gathering a few first aid supplies or buying a premade kit is easy.

Be sure that your vehicle has been inspected for safe driving conditions. Keep an emergency kit with jumper cables, a tire jack, a flashlight, and other necessities. In case of an emergency, you’ll be grateful you have them.


6. Be an Early Bird

Sleeping in and taking long naps are luxuries for vacation days. However, you don’t want to spend all your time sleeping on a day trip. The earlier you start your excursion, the more time you’ll have to explore and enjoy the journey.

Start on the right foot by doing all your preparations in advance. Purchase event tickets and make restaurant reservations. Pack a few necessities, a snack basket, and fill up the car the night before you go.

7. Dress for the Weather

Every season has advantages; your day excursion isn’t limited to summer. If you’re a nature lover, you can plan a trip around any seasonal beauty you want. Be sure that you dress comfortably wherever you’re going.

If you’re traveling out of state, the weather may vary considerably from where you live. Consider taking an extra jacket with you and an umbrella. Don’t forget some swimming clothes if you visit a place with a pool.

8. Have a Group Day Trip

Day trips and staycations can be tailored for going solo, with your partner, or as a family. One option gaining popularity is group day trips in chartered buses and passenger trains. The more family and friends that go, the less it costs.

It’s always helpful to have those who can help share the expenses. Some of the group day trips advertised are for anyone who wants to reserve a seat. You’ll have a chance to meet new people and visit some of your favorite destinations.

These trips usually depart early in the morning, have sightseeing all day, then return late in the evening. Talk to your local travel agent or research online if a group excursion sounds interesting. You can spend a day shopping in New York, touring Washington, D.C., or many other options available in your area. Leave the driving to a professional, lean back, and enjoy the ride.

9. Be Adaptable on Your Day Trip

In an article published by BBC, Lindsay Baker presents various philosophical views concerning adaptability. Her examples range from classic Greek philosophers like Heraclitus to Ancient Stoics to modern novelists like Octavia Butler. Although the language is different, the consensus is that adaptability is the key to happiness.

While it’s wise to have a plan for your trip, try to be adaptable to any changes. Sometimes, detours, weather conditions, and other unforeseeable changes can muck up your plan. Who knows, maybe a ride off the beaten path may lead to an experience you’ll never forget.

10. Think Outside the Travel Box

Unfortunately, many of America’s popular destinations are also tourist traps. Local businesses capitalize on the theme and often take advantage of tourists with inflated prices. If you’ve recently visited an amusement park, you know this sad reality too well.

Why not choose a unique destination away from the crowds and exorbitant prices? Even if you go to a popular destination, you can explore the outer perimeters and see more of what the locals do. The best experiences and prices aren’t on the usual tourist maps.

For some inspiration and other ideas, talk to family, friends, and co-workers. They may know of some sweet spots that you’ve never considered. While on the trip, ask locals where they like to gather for food or entertainment.

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Final Thoughts on Travel Tips for a Day Trip

Need a break but a day trip seems out of reach right now? The good news is that you don’t need to leave your community for some adventure. Instead, you and your family can relax at home for a staycation. Unlike day trips, staycations can be planned for a weekend or a week. Plan fun activities like game nights, cookouts, or visit a local tourist destination.

There’s an art to balancing work and playtime. Taking a road trip for the day can be relaxing and can give your mind a beneficial diversion. Plus, you’ll make memories that will last a lifetime.