Perhaps this has happened to you: a child-free, work-free window of time opens up and your significant other says to you, “We should go somewhere and do something.” You spend the next hour trying to think of what to do, but in the end you give up and end up staying in and watching TV. There is a better way–you can plan ahead for last-minute spontaneous date adventures!
Spontaneous dates will change your love life for the better. And no, planing for spontaneity isn’t an oxymoron and it doesn’t take the fun out of adventures, instead it increases the likelihood of you and your spouse getting out there and spending time exploring together whenever the opportunity presents itself.
My husband and I have been married for over 24 years now and thankfully, we learned the benefits of being prepared for unexpected date nights a long time ago. He is an RN who often gets low-census days off with just a few hours’ notice. We also did not have family in town when the children were little, so we learned to take advantage of times they would all be busy with outside activities, even if the scenario arose from out of nowhere.
Being prepared for the unexpected has allowed us to go on some pretty cool dating adventures, especially now that the children are old enough to take care of themselves–including packing up and leaving for a four day trip to Florida and back from Indiana in just two hours.
Today I am going to share with you all the tips that I have learned over the years that have helped my husband and me to stop wasting time figuring out what to do when last-minute opportunities come up for us to spend time together.
Four Things You Need To Do Be Prepared For Spontaneous Date Adventures
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1. Have This Fund As Part Of Your Budget
If you have read my book, Thrifty & Thriving: More Life for Less Money, you know that I am a big fan of emergency funds. We have not just one emergency fund, but three —you will have to read the book to figure out what they are all for.
One of these emergency funds is our “emergency activity fund.” This fund isn’t large and isn’t entirely devoted to “dating emergencies”, but usually it does have some money in it. Not a lot but enough for our style of thrifty dating.
I also make sure that our “vehicle gas” envelope is always overfunded with enough money for one more tank of gas than we generally need, which comes in handy for a last-minute road trip just the two of us.
Read These Posts To Learn Our Best Tips For Keeping Dates Low Cost But Fun
2. Have These Things In Your Trunk At All Times
A vehicle can be so much more than something that gets you from point A to point B. It can be a place where two people can lounge and talk for hours or a place for two to snuggle up and read books side by side. It can fit a kitchen big enough to prepare meals and it can even become a place to sleep side by side—especially if your vehicle is that dreaded family minivan you didn’t want, but needed to fit all the kids.
But you don’t need to keep everything and the kitchen sink in the trunk of your vehicle to be ready for a last-minute date opportunity; here is a list of the essentials.
- Ground cover: We like to use moving blankets like this one. They are super rugged and are not sand and grass magnets. These are great for picnics or reading books under the shade of a tree in a park.
- At least one pillow, but preferably two: Small pillows like these don’t take up a lot of space, but are still big enough for you to lay your head on to make stargazing or cloud watching all that more comfortable.
- A snuggly blanket for two: Any blanket will do, but I would suggest you choose one made of a material grass and sand won’t stick to. If you want something that would be great for not just day trips but overnight trips too, a double sleeping bag that stuffs into a small bag would be an excellent investment.
- A towel: Sometimes you find a swimming spot that calls out to you or a river that needs you to wade in it. A towel is helpful to dry your feet those times. We like travel towels as they fold up small, dry fast, and sand shakes right off them (we have two of this brand and they have held up well).
- A big bag to keep it all in: $1 TJ Maxx reusable bags work great for this. Since they are somewhat waterproof you can place wet clothes in them should those waves you were wading in take you by surprise and soak you from head to toe (or is that just something that happens to me?).
3. Having These Lists
My husband used to make fun of my lists, but now he sees how important they are for gathering up things we need to pack for a date adventure in a hurry.
Some lists that I have that you might consider making are:
- Minivan camper packing list (basically all we need for a weekend away)
- Day trip packing list
- Places within 2 hours’ drive to explore, places within 4 hours’ drive to explore, places within 6 hours’ to explore, places beyond 6 hours’ to explore (here is how I find places to put on this list)
- A “need to do before we flee the nest” list (things like making sure our grown children have all the keys they need and know when they need to drop off and pick up their sister who doesn’t drive yet)
I could make these free printables, but they are incredibly personalized. What you need to pack and what you need to do before you leave will depend on the ages of your kids, what pets you have, what type of vehicle you drive, what you like to do on your dates, etc. It is simple to make up your own lists. I use Google Drive to create mine, that way I can view them on my iPhone through the Google Doc app. I am continually reworking them to suit our ever-changing life.
4. Have These Apps On Your Phone
Ever since I bought an iPhone with 128 GB of memory, I have become a bit of an app junkie. I am always downloading and testing out new ones.
Here are some of my favorite apps for last-minute date-adventures:
- Google Maps–Although I use the iPhone version, I find Google Maps often finds places I enter into it that the map app on the iPhone won’t. Other times it is the other way around so keeping both is beneficial.
- Google Drive–As I said before, I am a lover of lists. I keep an entire folder in Google Drive labeled “places for date day” and in it are Google Docs containing information about places I want to explore nearby.
- All Stays–This is the only app on this list that you have to pay for, but if you can’t afford last-minute accommodation prices and are willing to sleep in your vehicle like we are, then the money you pay for this app is worth every penny. It lists a lot more than free places to spend the night though, it also lists paid campsites, major gas stations, etc.
- AllTrails–Hiking is free and a great way to explore an area and connect with nature and each other. The AllTrails app lists hikes that are available in the area you are in.
- Yelp–Need to know if the pizza place you are parked in front of is good? Yelp can answer that for you.
- iExit–When you take off towards a new adventure, you might discover you need gas, a cup of coffee, or groceries for a picnic. The iExit app will use your location and find out which highway exit you should take to help you get all those last-minute items.
- Groupon And Living Social–If you want to try a new restaurant or are open to trying a new activity like ax throwing I suggest opening up an account with both Groupon and Living Social and downloading the apps to your phone so that you might be able to save a bit of money.
- Airbnb—Airbnbs tend to be less expensive than hotels and homier. Most have a kitchen which can cut down on costs. Here is how our first experience went with Airbnb.
- Trivago–If Airbnb doesn’t have anything to offer you, the Trivago app might have a decent hotel room at a great price. What I like about Trivago is that it takes the prices from various discount sites like Hotels.com and Expedia and shows you which is offering the best price for the hotel you want.
- Trip Advisor–If I am planning ahead, Trip Advisor is the website I hit first to find out what there is to explore in an area, as well as where to eat. They have an app which works well for on the go planning.
- RoadTripper–This app will help you find unique sites to explore.
Keep these four things ready to go and next time someone offers to take the kids or you find out last minute that you are both off work for the next few days, you will be ready to take full advantage of every minute you have to spend together, just the two of you. I hope you have many amazing spontaneous date adventures.
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