Vacation planning took a new twist at the Scott household last month when parents Melissa and Jim decided to forgo their traditional trip to a beach house in Massachusetts for a road adventure to the Black Hills of South Dakota. But where would they stop and what would they do to keep all three boys — ages 3, 8 and 10 — plus Grandpa Frank happy and engaged for seven days?
Melissa had a great idea. She put democracy in action and said, "Let's all vote on what we want to do."
She went online to southdakota.com and requested a free map and travel brochures. When they arrived in the mail, she cut out photos of 12 activities she thought would be of interest and appropriate for all ages and glued them on index cards.
The kids lined them up on the picnic table and counted out eight game chips for each person. After a little lobbying, they let the chips do the talking by placing them on their choices. Mount Rushmore, panning for gold and the buffalo Jeep tour were among family favorites — and much to Melissa's surprise, horseback riding was left in the dust.
Fun, simple and effective. Now back home, Melissa is convinced that by giving the kids a voice, they had a stake in the day-to-day adventures.
"We avoided the 'I don't want to go here, or I don't want to do this,' syndrome. The game put us in the same mind-set as a family, and we had a great time doing new things we never would have done on our typical
The "pick your trip" game has a broader application for planning day trips, too. Think of all the exciting activities you might do the next 10 weeks for weekend fall fun. For inspiration, look through local magazines and newspapers for descriptions of outings and events in your area.
Destinations might include a pumpkin patch, apple orchard and corn maze. Take in a college football game and a nearby Oktoberfest. Jump on your bikes for a ride on trails to see fall colors or bike/walk with others for a cause. Visit the zoo or an aquarium. And toss in a surprise activity no one expects, like a trip to an indoor water park.
Once you have a dozen or so realistic options, glue photos of them on notecards, count out game chips and say, "Let's vote!" Let the chips fall where they may, and post the winners on open weekend days on your calendar. And like the Scott family, you'll likely discover that when you pick your trip, everyone wins.