1. Drive a sports car on a racetrack over 100 mph
2. Scuba the Great Barrier Reef
4. Visit 10 foreign countries
5. Go on a safari
Well let’s just start with number five. A safari doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars and start with malaria shots and updated passports. You have a safari just outside your front door. In our family, we have a special definition of “safari,” and if your family chooses to adopt it, we promise you will have tons of fun and make some etched memories that will last a lifetime. Family fun can be hard to come by as kids get older and schedules take over the calendar. But the kind of safari we are talking about can be squeezed in between swim practice and a birthday party, or a trip to the dentist and a visit to the grandparents. Want an excuse to connect with your kids of all ages? Grab your best hat and let’s go.
Webster’s defines safari as “the caravan and equipment of a hunting expedition especially in Eastern Africa.” But it is also defined as a “journey or expedition.” For the purposes of family fun, we will go with definition number two. However, there are a few added elements to a family safari. You must have:
- A direction
- A camera
- A beverage of choice for each participant
- An attitude of discovery and adventure
The safari starts in your driveway. Load up all your people and whatever you need for a day (or several hours if that is what you have available). Make sure someone has a camera to capture the moments and surprises. If your children have phones or electronic devices, leave them at home. This may cause irritation at first, but once you get going, they will get over it. The point is to be together and in the moment, not perfecting the photos for an Instagram post.
First stop is your favorite watering hole (or drive through) to make sure everyone has a beverage. Choose a direction. This should not be cause for a family feud. You can simply elect one person, perhaps the youngest, to choose north, south, east, or west. For advanced safari-goers, you may also choose double directions like northwest or southeast. Then your trusted safari leader, AKA driver, finds the closest road headed in that direction, and you’re off.
There are two keys to a successful safari.
The first is only the navigator is allowed to use an electronic device, and this should be done sparingly if at all. Once you have chosen a direction, it is ok to get lost or just continue heading in that direction until time to come home. Searching for directions home is totally allowed, and even encouraged if you have a set deadline to be back to civilization.
The second key is you must stop at every interesting opportunity, no matter how odd or simple it may seem. That strange store with the Godzilla statue out front, perfect photo opp. The restaurant with the parking lot full of pickup trucks, a must. The big field of cotton or soybeans or sunflowers you just want to grab a closer look at, yes. If there is one of those antique malls with stalls of fabulous junk, give each person a small amount of money and a time limit and see who can purchase the most interesting item.
This is a great chance to teach your children some old school games like license plate bingo, who has the most cows or horses on their side of the road, the ABC’s of the roadway, or other things you remember arguing with your siblings about from the backseat (with no seatbelt of course). Questions like, “What animal would you be and why?” or “If you could have any famous person to dinner, who would you invite and what would you serve?” can be fun ways to kick off interesting conversations. Here are some more from Parents.com you could even print to take with you. In an age where it is harder and harder to carve out time to just be together as a family, a safari is an oasis for some family bonding and laughter.