Adventuring close to home does not always trigger the same exhilaration as a big adventure. At first thought, it feels small, simple, too familiar. And in some ways it is (until you stumble upon a pirate ship, also known as the Mayflower).
It’s also those familiar ways that make it accessible, available, realistic. And doable. Which is a lot when you’re traveling with small kids, because let’s be real, getting out the door is often the biggest obstacle.
So how to do it and how to make the local adventure seem more grand than it is?
- For starters, set some expectations. And then repeat after me: everyday is a parade if you just lower your standards. Shift your thinking to find the excitement in your neighborhood, your town, your state.
- Add something new, something exciting, something adventurous into the day. A walk up a hill is just a walk (albeit a pleasant one), but if you finish that walk with a cup of apple cider from the local orchard or an ice cream cone from the local creamery, all of a sudden you have yourself an adventure.
- Draw attention to the day, make it more than it is, build some anticipation. Start hyping it up on Tuesday. Are you ready for this weekend’s big adventure?!
- And then make it one. Your mood guides the day, parents. Find the adventure, the unique, the excitement. Be present. Share the joy. Take photos. Better yet, let the kids take photos.
- Take the long way. Avoid interstates, linger on two-lane roads. Stop at a farm stand. Find a giant ball of twine. Do something to make an adventure.
- Return home at dusk. A long day of adventure feels even bigger if you wind down as the sun begins to fade. It’s rebellion for tiny little folk, and sometimes rebellion feels so good.
- And remember, you’re dealing with kids here: it doesn’t take big endeavors for them to find the joy. By nature they are ripe with joy, ready for adventure, down for what the day has in store.
As for some ideas?
- Head to the local orchard, creamery, farm, any sort of business that offers tours, pick-your-own, animals to pet, or new treats to taste.
- Visit a state park. Pack a lunch, take a hike. Look at leaves, throw sticks in the river, find creepy crawlies all around.
- Stumble upon a splash park: to a kid it might as well be a giant waterpark (to a parent it’s a germ bath, but these are the lowered standards we refer to above). Better yet, don’t tell the kid where you’re headed and just happen to have a swimsuit and towel packed in the bag.
- Is there public transportation in your area? Take it. It doesn’t matter where or why or how dirty you think the seats/handles/whatever are. Take the bus, ride the train, eat an ice cream cone, turn around and go home: adventure abounds.
- Find a walking trail: again, we’re not talking grand, far off places right now. Find a path and walk down it. Call it a nature hike. See the shift (you’re looking for a parade in the day-to-day, remember).
- Go on a Sunday drive.
- Is there a crummy old amusement park nearby? GO. Just go.
- Likewise, find a fair, a farmer’s market, a carnival. Let go of any preconceptions. Eat the corndog, try the award winning pie, win a horrid stuffed animal.
- Is it raining? Play in the rain. Get soaked. Run through puddles. Listen to the joy, the laughter, the innocence.
- Is it summer? Find a beach. Bring sunblock. Play.
- Is it autumn? Rake some leaves. Jump in the leaves. Repeat.
The list could go on and on and on, but the main point? Just get out there. We adults make adventure bigger than it need be. Just go. And remember: Everyday is a parade if you just lower your standards.
Oh, and one final other option?
Find a parade. Really. Some days you might get so lucky to stumble upon an actual parade – you don’t always have to make your own.
What are your favorite ways to find adventure in the day-to-day? How do you satisfy the travel bug in between trips?