It is easy to get caught up in the “big trip” talk when you think about where you are going to go on your next family vacation. You hear so much about visiting that big metropolitan city or that amazing amusement park that when you sit down to start planning the only thing you can help to do is start to look up those destinations.
You think about the fun that you can have when you visit Disney or New York City or even further somewhere in Europe. You want to give your kids a trip that they will remember and tell their friends at school about. When it comes to your bucket list, you want to be able to cross a destination, a certain food, a place off your list.
Your Family Vacation Is Closer Than You Think
You don’t think about those destinations that are close to you. It is easy to overlook because they are so close to you on the road map that you pulled out from the back pocket of your driver seat. As you look at your road map, there is a highlighted line going straight through the city that is within a few hours of you as you made a road trip to a destination just beyond that city.
Take for example Omaha, it was overlooked living in Kansas City. We would always think about going to Chicago or St. Louis on our road trips. Even going up to Minneapolis was our choice for our babymoon. We never even gave Omaha a second look until I visited there for business recently. I walked through downtown wondering why we had never even given this thought to visit. It was within 3 hours of Kansas City and there was so much to do together for our next family vacation.
Walking down Gene Leahy Mall in downtown Omaha on my way to a Starbucks as I searched for a Been There mug to add to my collection, I couldn’t help but wonder why we had never given this place a thought. Sure we had heard about the Zoo and what a wonderful place it is to visit with the kids. But as I walked through downtown Omaha, I realized that they only other time that I had seen this eastern Nebraska city was on ESPN during the College World Series.
I looked out of my downtown hotel window that night, looking down on Ted & Wally’s Ultra-Premium Ice Cream I looked up to see the lights from airplanes coming into Eppley Airfield and I wondered why we hadn’t made our way to this city like so many people who were sitting on those planes.
What Adventures Have We Been Missing
I couldn’t help but think about what else we were missing by not thinking regionally. Why did we always feel like there would need to be an airplane boarding pass in hand or a 2-day long road trip involved with any sort of vacation we would like to take?
Sitting there in my hotel room in a city new to me, I couldn’t help but head back out to walk around more. There was more exploring to do. I walked again through Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, it hit me that if we were to start to think about the places that are close to us, we could travel more. Loading up the car and driving 4.5 hours to a city we have never been to wouldn’t have to be very expensive.
As night fell upon these strange city streets, I headed back to my hotel room. I was so excited about coming back to Omaha when I could bring my family and have more time I started to text my wife that we needed to come back. I looked up hotel room prices to see just how affordable a weekend trip like this would be, and I was shocked. I was so used to the high priced rooms of a Chicago, New York City, Miami, and San Diego that I started to think beyond our impending family trip to Omaha to other cities.
There is Wichita (which we frequent often but never visit many of the sites), St. Louis (which we have been but never had the time to explore), Des Moines, and if we wanted to venture beyond that 4 hour afternoon drive, Oklahoma City.
There are so many places that we have yet to discover as a family. Places that we never realized could be visited on a budget and places that are kid friendly in more than just the short drive sense.
All it takes is thinking a little closer to home.