Is it possible to have a fun family vacation when recreation is not the only thing on the agenda? Not only is it possible, but even a business trip can equal an amazing time for everyone if you follow these travel tips – plan ahead, ask the right questions of the right people and use a few time management skills.
Not all travel is created equal. Families are not just hitting the road or riding the big silver bird for recreation only. Travel for a child’s team sport or for a business trips for a parent is becoming more and more popular. You can still have fun. However with tight schedules, making the most of your time with everyone in tow is crucial.
This doesn’t mean that just because you don’t have all day to see the sights you can’t squeeze in a little adventure. You can sample what your destination has to offer; you just have to get a little creative.
Fun can happen in any amount of time, you just have to know where to look.
Just because Dad or Mom is on a business trip or in a meeting doesn’t mean the rest of the family needs to be sequestered in the hotel room. Get a little lost wandering the city streets or find a picturesque walking or biking trail near the hotel. If you are ever near Indianapolis, I recommend the Monon Trail, miles of gorgeous, tree lined walking and biking trails that were once a working railroad line. These mini adventures can keep everyone from being bored and asking the inevitable question “When’s mom/dad getting back?” Large resort type properties also offer plenty of places to explore, inside and out so you don’t necessarily need to leave the grounds.
45 Minutes to Spare?
This could be the time between sporting events or the next conference presentation. Try a geographically friendly, local eatery. Even if it isn’t lunch or dinner time, you could find a cool ice cream shop or bakery. Get out of the hotel and ask a cab driver, police officer or city worker for their recommendations (they know ALL the best places to eat!) We found the most amazing deep dish pizza in Minnesota one year.
1 Hour Between Meetings Or Games?
Is there a small museum or local park nearby? It could be worth the stroll in mild weather and if you are blessed with being close to a beach this is the perfect time to dip your toes. My daughter and I made the most out of a sports trip to Anaheim where she got to see the ocean for the very first time…even on a tight schedule. Most cities have children’s museums designed for shorter visits to work out the repressed energy from being in a car, plane or hotel room too long.
What Fun Can 2 Hours Get You?
With this kind of time, your possibilities are open to some larger scale attractions and activities. Take in a children’s theatre production, check out the local artist scene with an art walk/festival or dig the sounds at a concert in the park. Are you traveling in the snowy winter? Quite a few local parks have outdoor ice skating and downhill snow tubing which was a huge hit on our sports trip two years ago. Our Arizona kids even got to play their first outdoor hockey game.
A Half Day? Full Time Adventure!
With this kind of time you have the opportunity to discover some unique local sights. Whether it is exploring caves in Colorado, or doing the JFK tour in Dallas, there’s plenty of possibility. Even in Las Vegas my daughter’s hockey team found a family friendly magic show and visited Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum which appealed to both kids and parents. In these cases, sharing is caring and the more the merrier. Bring along another family and the fun quotient just went up.
A Whole Day? The Only Question Is, What To Do First?
This is your golden ticket for adventure. Many of our sports families will tag on an extra day AFTER, not before, tournament play is finished to really get out and explore. This same idea works with that business conference as well. What better way to end a few days of meetings or a stressful sports tournament than with a family fun day? Ride the rides at the local amusement park, take in a minor league sports events (there’s always something in season!), or tour a string of museums. Large cities like Chicago and New York often have museums and galleries clumped together so you can visit them without the added hassle of driving and finding parking.
Do you have a rental car at your disposal? Why not venture outside the city limits? Most metropolitan areas have outlying smaller towns with historical significance and family friendly attractions. Just a short drive and you could venture back to the Old West in Tombstone or Jerome Arizona, or experience southern hospitality in Savannah, Ga with historic home tours and stories of the Old South. You can even be in multiple states at once at Four Corners.
No matter what your destination, do a little research on the area beforehand to discover what activities and sights it has to offer. Planning ahead can reduce your travel stress and even save you a few dollars. Often you can buy museum or attraction tickets online at a discount and knowing that a certain park or gallery is closed on a Tuesday can save you disappointment.
Make it a mission to take in only local sights, eateries and entertainment to make your trip even more unique. Plus, you never know what fascinating people you might meet along the way. Those movies and chain restaurants will be waiting on you when you get home but the memories of going off the beaten path will stay with you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sharon Enck is a writer and blogger who credits her traveling chops to being a hockey mom. With dozens of sports related trips under her belt, she can navigate a tournament weekend and massive amounts of gear with ease and a sense of humor. From packing tips suitable for even the finickiest of airlines to managing fun and function on trips, Sharon and her teen daughter are sports travel aficionados. She chronicles their misadventures while keeping the world of youth hockey real and real funny on her blog Puckgal.