If you read my post on surprise rides, then you know we have some fun family traditions. My family had another fun custom besides those that we called “Mystery Trips.”
What are “Mystery Trips?“ One year my husband and I were talking about what to buy our children for Christmas. We decided they had plenty of “things'” and that their main gifts would be a trip to a secret destination. There would be less under the Christmas tree, but we figured the little vacations would be more memorable than a bunch of new toys. The first year we began this they were a little confused as to the lack of gifts. Once we explained that their presents wouldn’t be as tangible as something they have, but rather something they got to do or see, they were curious (and a little skeptical!).
When did you go on Mystery Trips?
These were mini family vacations we took over Christmas break. Almost every Mystery Trip began the day after Christmas. After eating our Christmas meal, we would ask each child to pack a suitcase (the younger ones needed some help) and let them know what kind of clothes they would need for the trip. We also told them how long we would be gone. Usually, our little vacations were three to four days long.
Where did you go for “Mystery Trips?”
Our “Mystery Trips” were always to locations to which we could drive. Thankfully, we live in California where there is so much to do and see. Because we live on the Central Coast, we have the option of driving north, south, or inland. One year we drove to San Francisco and stayed in Nob Hill. We took the kids to a children’s afternoon tea, to museums, rode the cable cars, and some of the other touristy things to do there. Another year we went to downtown Los Angeles and stayed in a hotel that had a holiday ice skating rink. We skated, drank hot chocolate, and visited a children’s museum. I think it’s fair to say we went to a museum almost every time. The teacher in me loves when my kids do something that is both fun and educational. All three of them still enjoy museums. Yay!
I spent hours researching destinations, activities, hotel deals, etc., then would propose the ideas to my husband, and we would narrow it down to one. We chose destinations where there would be plenty to do to keep them entertained. We usually had an itinerary planned but allowed for wiggle room if necessary. Often hotels in the major cities have great weekend rates because the rooms fill during the week with business travelers. They offer low rates to lure families.
Once at our destination, we would unpack, give our children a little spending money for souvenirs, and set out to explore. We ate at fun restaurants, walked for miles (and used a stroller!), and explored new places.
Mystery Trips evoke happiness in all five of us. They were great times of bonding, memory-making, and good fun. They didn’t need to be extravagant to be great. They take some planning financially and logistically but were well worth it. You may remember this come Christmastime and decide memory-making can be better than traditional gifts.
Happy memory making,