This weekend, we packed up the boys and a truck full of supplies and headed out for a quick 24-hour camping trip at Inks Lake State Park, about an hour away from our house.
This was the first time Grant had gone camping, and the first time I’ve been tent camping as an adult. Corey and Jackson went last month for a one-night trip together, and they had so much fun that we decided to see if the whole family could manage it.
I’ll be honest – I’m more of a hotel girl than a tent girl. I don’t love not having free and easy access to things like toilets and showers, and I get cranky if the bed I’m sleeping in doesn’t consist of an actual mattress with sheets and blankets and no bugs flying around me.
But, we genuinely had the most lovely time.
We took a long hike, we fished at our campsite, we had hot dogs for dinner and roasted marshmallows and played card games past bedtime. We left the rain cover off our tent so we could sleep under the stars.
We brought air mattresses, so the entire floor of our (two-person) tent was nothing but one giant pile of bedding.
We had absolutely zero cell phone service for a solid 24 hours and it was, quite honestly, magical.
There was a piece of me that wondered before we left what in the world was the point of doing a 24-hour trip. Would we really have time to relax and enjoy ourselves or would we just come back feeling even more drained and like we’d wasted the weekend?
But, y’all, turns out a mini vacation is the exact right solution when you’re feeling some wanderlust but don’t have the time or budget to actually go anywhere.
We created some truly special memories and packed a ton of fun into the day that we were there. Everyone was flexible and willing to go with the flow – the boys slept far better in the tent than I ever would have expected, and there wasn’t too much whining and complaining.
I mean, I did plenty of complaining on Sunday after sharing a twin mattress on the ground with my two year old, but that’s to be expected, right?!
I can definitely see us doing more quick little trips like this in the future – whether it’s camping or grabbing a hotel room nearby for the night or renting an Air B&B downtown for the weekend.
I think if we’ve learned anything in the last 13 months, it’s that we should savor every little experience we get to have out in the world. Even a tiny, 24-hour camping trip suddenly feels magical when you basically haven’t done anything else in months!
I’m certainly no pro when it comes to camping or quick trips with kids, but here are a few tips I learned from this trip that will hopefully be helpful if you decide to run away for the day too:
- Pick somewhere within about a 1-hour drive. Any more and it’ll feel like you’ve spent half your trip driving. Any less and you may not feel like you’ve actually gone anywhere!
- Savor the downtime. We’re generally very “go go go!” when it comes to our day-to-day lives, so it felt really (REALLY!) nice to kind of just sit at the campsite and watch the kids chase bugs and feel the breeze in the air. I often feel like I need to have things planned on vacations to keep everyone happy, but turns out the kids were really excited to just quack at the ducks in the lake for 30 minutes straight.
- Keep things simple. This goes hand in hand with the last tip, but the less you plan or stress about your mini vacation, the better. We booked this trip less than a week before leaving, I spent about 5 minutes tossing some clothes into a bag for myself, and we kept our meals as simple and straightforward as we could. Oh, and we extended the vacation a bit by sending Corey out to pick up lunch right when we got home – who wants to cook immediately after a family trip?!
- Be prepared to not sleep. I feel like anytime we head out on vacation it takes a couple of nights for the kids to settle into a routine and actually get good sleep. Guess what that means for a one-night trip?! If you go into it planning on poor sleep and for everyone to be exhausted the next day, you may just be pleasantly surprised when everyone sleeps okay-ish and you don’t feel like a complete zombie when you get home.
I’d love for the 24-hour vacation to become a regular thing for us. We’ve already got another one planned next month on Jackson’s last day of school, and I can definitely see more mini camping trips in our future this summer!
Does your family take mini vacations? I’d love to hear your recommendations for quick trips with the kids!