Road Tripping With CharlieI am a not at home dad that needs to get out and explore with my kids. Whether it’s a quick trip to the riverbanks to throw rocks, or a daytrip exploring the foothills, mountains, or prairies – I’m up for anything.

“Who wants to go to a lake?” I asked. Nothing.

“What about the mountains?” Still nothing.

“Who wants to look for dinosaurs?” Charlie leaped up yelling “ME!” I told him to run upstairs, get dressed, and we’d be off.

I set a course for the Drumheller Valley and a chance to tackle some of the things we hadn’t yet checked off our bucket list. It doesn’t matter where you road trip, it just matters that you get out and explore.

Here’s how to plan the perfect road trip:

1. Spin the compass and pick somewhere within 90 minutes of home
You want to be able to get there and back in a day and you want to be able to stop and explore along the way. 90 minutes away from home is a great distance that gets you far enough away to try something new while giving you time to stop and explore new finds along the way. Picking somewhere 90 minutes away can still turn into a 10 or 12 hour day trip.

90 Minute Road Trip Map

Some of my favorite daytrips from Calgary include Drumheller, Nanton, Picture Butte, and K Country.

2. Get off the beaten path
On either the way out or back, take the scenic route. Use your geocache app to find clusters of interesting places that are off the main route. It’s a great way to discover the secrets in your own backyard. This is where getting lost can be a good thing.

Prairie Sky

3. Pack snacks and drinks
Okay, packing snack bars and bottles of water is a given, but a daytrip is a perfect time to pack along the cooler and campstove and really do it up. I like to ‘uncamp,’ that means getting out and exploring the outdoors without sleeping in the tent. Even on a daytrip you can build a campfire and have some s’mores. Plan to be out all day and pack accordingly.

Campfire Uncamping

3. Make sure the vehicle is up to speed; any check-ups with a mechanic would be best served prior to your departure.
Having a spare tire and a jack is always best in case you get a flat.

Untitled4. Make sure your cellphone is fully charged (and you have packed the charger). While I’m all for unplugging and getting off the grid on weekends, making sure you have all the gear to keep your phone charged up just makes safety sense. If you use your phone for geocaching, it will drain quickly. If you use it for playing music or taking pictures while you’re hiking, it will drain quickly. In addition to the car charger, I have an assortment of remote charging packs that I bring along. Anyone want to borrow a charger?

5. Pack a safety kit
I have a simple First Aid kit that’s a part of my camping bucket. I bring it along for road trips too – just in case. I’ve got everything from bandages to sutures and bear spray ready for any weekend adventure we might fight ourselves on.

6. Ziploc bags
These are perfect to store wet clothes after a swim, muddy shoes and socks after a hike, and to use as sickness bags. We don’t leave home without them stuffed in to the backseat pocket in front of the boys. They can reach them, they know why they’re there, and after no fewer than 5 car sickness moments in the past few years, I can tell you these bags are absolutely vital when road tripping with kids.

Now that you’re prepared, where will you go? Here are some of my favorite daytrips around Calgary to check out.

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