Benefits of a short, last minute family getaway

School came up really quickly this year with our daughters’ first day starting on September 1, before the long weekend. The truth is that although our girls were excited to start their next school year, their father and I weren’t ready to let them go without one last road trip.

A last minute hotel in Calgary was booked and we decided we were leaving our city behind for one day.

When we confirmed with our girls that we were going down in a few days, they were a little nervous.

What about the planning? Asked our oldest. What about food for the road? Asked the other. My answer was that we didn’t need any of it. We were driving three hours away, we were still in Canada, and we would do a road picnic with food we grabbed on the way.

My husband and I were sold, the kids were skeptical and off we went.


It turns out that this was one of the best road trips we’ve been on, including our previous year to the same destination that I over-planned.

The girls packed their iPads, some books and a teddy bear. We fit all of our clothes into a carry on and I packed a picnic basket. That was all we would have had in the car except the weather called for rain, so our gear was tossed in the back to, just in case.

The car was comfortable

When I plan, the kids usually run out of space in the back seat. It was a short trip, so we didn’t need much. The girls had so much space and we were able to get everything we needed into our room in one trip. The only thing I would have packed that I missed was a pillow for each girl to stay in the car.

Lunch was simple


We told the girls we would be doing a road trip picnic. Usually, I spend time picking up a long list of food to have on hand. Since the trip was only a few hours, and I was determined to have the most stress-free road trip in history, I opted for picking up food on the way. We stopped into McDonald’s to get a family pack of Chicken McNuggets with some fries and picked out a nice spot at a rest stop to rest and eat. The Chicken McNuggets are a great option for a quick picnic. First, our girls love them and I like that they are made with 100% seasoned white breast meat and contain no preservatives.


We were organized

When you pack less, you find things easier. And since our daughters packed extremely light, they could focus better on what they wanted to do and play with. There were two trips down to the pool on the first day and both girls are into dancing so they listened to music on their iPads in the room and practiced dance moves together.

Our expectations were exceeded

Since we expected to go down to stay in a hotel and get up the next day, go to the Calgary Zoo, then drive back to Edmonton, we were presently surprised when some extra things happened. 

Small things that don’t seem like much can mean a lot to kids.

Our girls were excited that there were free cookies at the front desk. We got two coupons for $5 off a purchase from the Calgary Zoo gift shop at our hotel and the girls both found something special for $4.99. And to top it off, both girls had so much fun during our road trip picnic that they asked to go to McDonald’s for Chicken McNuggets one last time on the way home.

When we ordered, a McDonald’s employee discreetly asked us if the girls might want to check out the kitchen and make their very own mini ice cream cone for dessert for free. Since we were technically still on vacation, we said sure. After dinner, they were invited into the McDonald’s kitchen and they each got to hold a mini ice cream cone while the employee filled it. They loved it.

McDonald’s has recently released its mobile app called: My McD’s Mobile. You can use the app to look up information about the McDonald’s menu and restaurant locations and you will be able to receive and redeem exclusive Mobile offers in-restaurant such as a free small fries, or $2.50 off any extra value meal. To download the app, search ‘My McD’s’ or ‘McDonald’s Canada’ in the Apple or Android App Stores, and register an account.


*This post is sponsored by McDonald’s.

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  • Irene Thompson Sep 11, 2016, 1:03 pm

    I enjoyed your article Sheri. I definitely agree, unplanned, spur of the moment trips are wonderful.

  • Betty Sep 9, 2016, 11:00 pm

    Sounds like you all had a great trip. Short trips are so much fun, no need to pack a lot. Sometimes when you are gone for a day it feels like 4 or 5 days!

    • Sheri Landry Oct 5, 2016, 9:56 am

      We did come back feeling like we were away for longer.