9 Ideas for Family Fun When You Can't Travel
By now, your family probably has dozens of loaves of home baked bread stacked in the freezer and your neighbors dread the porch deliveries of produce your perfectly tended garden has gifted the entire street. Please no more zucchini! We can only zoodle so much!
You’ve emptied closets, worn out board games, and walked the poor dog more than he ever wanted, all in effort to distract the family from the fact you just can’t travel this year like you used to. No way around it, it's tough sitting at home, especially as a military family because travel is in our blood. Adventure and exploring is a way of life for most of us.
It doesn’t appear we’re headed back to our previous travel lifestyle any day soon. Which means there’s a whole lot of free time ahead.
Are you searching for more family fun? Here are 9 more new ways to kill a few hours of time at home, or nearby.
9 Ideas for Family Fun When You Can't Travel
1) Check your closest base for their most recent openings.
As restrictions lift across the country, more and more access is showing up at MWR offices and outdoor recreation centers. Many bases offer rentals of all kinds: boats, canoes, and tent sites. Some lucky few have entire cabins and RVs to rent. If your base doesn’t have a strong collection of fun activities to offer, check neighboring bases within your servicemember’s radius of eligible travel.
2) Search for farms and plan a day trip.
Even if your garden is the most envied for miles around, you can’t specialize in everything! Choose a family favorite (early apple season is fast approaching!) or try capitalizing on a crop that is unique. In the spring, it was tulip fields; now, sunflowers are a late summer photography bonanza for family photos and holiday cards.
3) Visit a veterans' cemetery.
Honor the fallen and learn new military history. There are state and local veterans' cemeteries across the country that often require volunteers for upkeep. Before deciding where to go, conduct a research session to see if distant family members are laid to rest in a veterans' cemetery or choose a local hero and learn about their personal contributions.
4) Revisit local museums, historic sites, and hikes.
These activities were probably first on the list to do during the early days of quarantine, but as social distancing guidelines have been established, these sites have widened their opportunities. New interactions and exhibits are likely now available. Check your closest military base, as they often have hiking trails and base specific museums.
5) Create a campout.
Inside or outside, s’mores taste amazing! Take advantage of great weather or hide inside in the AC, but pitch a tent, roll out the sleeping bags, and retell the scariest campfire stories you remember from childhood by lantern light. Fireflies, roasting hot dogs, and a rousing game of badminton with a glow in the dark birdie all add up to a memorable campout at home.
6) Learn all of Google’s hidden tricks and entertainment.
There’s no escaping screen time right now. But the quality of screen time can be improved, for sure. Google really does everything, and most people don’t take advantage of the everyday uses, let alone the hidden, fun tricks. They’re easy enough to find-- just Google it!
Here are a few of the hundreds of options:
- Play old school Pac-Man and Atari Breakout.
- Explore Mars.
- Google’s Arts & Culture has the world’s most renowned art collections available to view.
- Change your Google language to speak like Muppets, Elmer Fudd, Klingon, or pirate.
- Friends fans: Google your favorite character’s name, like “Monica Friends” and see what icon pops up to represent the character. Monica has soap and a bucket. Click the icon for a smile-worthy interactive result.
- Find games, tricks, and Easter Eggs right from your search bar.
7) Learn magic tricks and discover the secrets of the pros.
Kids are always fascinated by illusions and sleight of hand. Learn a couple to impress the kiddos, or have older kids memorize several to put on a magic show for the family.
8) Agree to a makeover.
Your kids won’t hesitate to make over mom or dad. Temporary hair color, lipstick, and nail polish are just the start. Parents get to set the boundaries, however. No scissors allowed! While you’re hostage, ask your kids if they’re curious about your childhood. Tell them about things you did as a family, back when technology wasn’t all encompassing. Talk about items that don’t exist in their world today, like payphones and cars with ash trays!
9) Recruit help to finish baby books and photo albums.
What do kids like to do the most? Talk about themselves when they “were little!” Sort pictures, choose the best ones, add captions, and even scrapbook a little with stickers and small paper cutouts. Of course, all of the cherished memories will come back, and you’ll have a great time reminiscing about past family adventures.
Families are quite creative these days, taking advantage of an unusual amount of quality time; but there’s always room for a few more stay at home activities, especially because travel to see grandparents and cousins has been put on hold.
Its hard not to travel like we used to, but one of the best activities we can do is to plan for the day when we can. Destination bucket lists, travel research, and earning vacation funds through proceeds earned from closet purges and playrooms all offer hope for future adventures.
And while you're at it, download our free guide for military family travel to start your planning and dreaming ahead!