One thing about Texans that seems to be true across the board is this. We love our day trips.
Day Trips are Part of Being a Texan
People who live in other states enjoy a nice Saturday outing as well, but there’s something different about the Texas day trip. Most Americans probably want to see parts of the states in which they live, however, we who claim residence in the Lone Star State are loath to think we will never cover every square mile of ours.
There’s Only One Problem
All it takes is a picnic basket and a full tank of gas to get somewhere good in Texas.
Some of our spaces are wide open prairies, while others are tightly compacted cities. Ways to get from Point A to Point B include everything from dusty farm-to-market dirt roads to well-engineered interstate highways.
Every road in Texas leads to an adventure of one kind or another, but there’s one itty bitty, teensy weeensy problem.
Texas is so darn B-I-G.
This Isn’t New England
Our family traveled recently from Texas to Massachusetts for a family wedding. It was a gorgeous New England occasion, which took place in a beautiful barn set just perfectly on a hill covered with clean white snow. The bride was beautiful, the flowers were amazing, and the dance band was spectacular.
If I had just worn a red velvet cape with big white cuffs, I might have passed for Ginger Rogers in Holiday Inn.
Anyway, seeing as how that part of the country is such a looooooong way from Dallas, all of us who traveled from here to there planned to include some sightseeing in our post-wedding itinerary.
As we all sat around the big wooden breakfast table at the quaintest inn e-v-e-r, drinking our coffee, eating our maple granola, and talking about how much fun we had the night before, we also compared notes as to who was going where later in the day.
My brother and his family had asked for pointers from the locals, who steered them toward the coast. They were making plans to take a slow, scenic drive down to Gloucester, then eat some lobstah and enjoy a wintry view of the Atlantic Ocean.
Our daughter and her group couldn’t go anywhere until they had gotten in a good workout (purists!), but they would meet us for lunch later.
Mmmmm. We hadn’t finished breakfast, and I was already thinking about lunch. I had been dreaming of steaming clam chowdah for days, y’all.
Our designated day planner was chosen to be our college son, who plans such great stuff. On our dollar, of course.
At the end of the day, we had crossed three state lines, but the ground we covered would have fit inside the distance from Dallas to Houston.
How to Plan the Perfect Texas Day Trip
Governor Ann Richards once said: I thought I knew Texas pretty well, but I had no notion of its size until I campaigned it.
Yep. It’s big, and we Texans know we can’t see it all. But day trips make us feel like we’re at least making a good stab at it.
Here are a few steps to making sure your next Texas day trip is a memory-making adventure.
Decide on a Theme
Sometimes, just deciding on a theme can help narrow the vast array of options. Let your mind wander a little and then focus in on what’s important for you to see or do. Then try stringing together a few things that complement that focus. Possible themes include hiking, botanical gardens, wineries and museums.
Determine Your Time Frame
How long do you have? Are you free for the entire day, sunup to sundown, or do you need to be back home in time to get dressed for a friend’s birthday party? Determining your time frame will help you not over-plan. It will also serve to eliminate any disappointment you might feel at turning the car toward home without having checked everything off the list. Been there, done that!
Send an email to your list of friends, or pick a few people from your phone’s contact list and ask for day trip ideas. I recently sent an email to a large group of coworkers asking where they like to take out-of-towners who come to visit and day trip ideas of their own. Asking people you actually know can be so much more helpful than just reading a list of top tens on the web.
Write Down Your Options
We often think we have it clearly stowed in our heads, when we suddenly remember there was that other thing we had once thought about, right? Writing down your options is so good. It helps spur your creativity, and it also gives you a way to have ideas ready for the next time a free Saturday rolls around.
Pre-plan Some Snacks
Do you have a favorite Buc-ee’s snack, or would you prefer taking homemade goodies along for the ride? Either way, the perfect Texas day trip always, always, always includes snacks.
Research a Restaurant
The perfect Texas day trip might include a fun stop at a restaurant where you’ve never been. But nothing is worse than picking one that ended up being a dud. Even if you’re not scouting out a lunch place ahead of time, it pays to take a quick look at a few reviews on your phone before you get seated in the booth.
Tunes, tape or talk?
Cassette tapes are a thing of the past, but some of us Over Fifty still like to string those two words together. So, audiobooks are still “books on tape,” and we love listening to them on day trips. Whether you want to download a new “read” onto your phone, or organize a playlist of favorite roadie tunes, it’s also nice to plan on some time to talk.
Pack Some Essentials
A good Texas daytripper prepares for changes in the weather. Don’t leave home without your sunglasses, sunscreen, water bottle, hat and umbrella.
Prepare for Some Spontaneity
If you’ve paired your springy outfit with flip flops on your feet, you won’t be able to spontaneously say, “let’s climb up there.” The perfect Texas day trip includes plenty of opportunities for spontaneity. So, be sure to pack socks and tennis shoes. You wouldn’t want to miss out on memory making photos on top of a rock or under a gigantic old oak tree, would you?
Brush Up on Car Games
For sure and for certain, a day trip might evoke a few memories of times past, when all the kids were in the back seat of the car. Go ahead. Play one of those we’re-going-on-a-picnic memory games if you want to. Here’s a resource for new material if all you can think of is singing “How Much is That Doggie in the Window.”
Bring a Buddy
You may be blessed to have an all star daytripper living within your midst. But if not, see if a friend or coworker wants to go. One of my single friends in Austin used to plan Texas day trips with her sister. I loved hearing her stories of the two of them, laughing down the backroads in her little German sports car. Taking a good friend, or making a good friend out of a new friend, that’s the real fun of the perfect Texas day trip.
Enjoy the Journey
No, my friends. We can’t see all of its rugged beauty, its vast coastline, or even its sizeable slew of state parks. But we can enjoy the journey, the distinctively Texas-style journey, wherever the next day trip takes us.
Hi, there! My name is Brenda McDearmon. I created this blog for the sole purpose of encouraging a life filled with everyday intentional adventure, whether that's trying a new restaurant, enjoying a Texas day trip, or being adventurously inspired in a spiritual way. Thanks so much for stopping by! Be sure and sign up to receive my weekly newsletter. It's one of my favorite ways to connect with my readers!