birthday trip planning – scheduling activities

Nope, it’s not for my birthday… My dad and one of my sisters share a birthday in October. It’s a milestone birthday for the both of them, so we thought we’d plan a special trip. More often than not, when a birthday rolls around, we like to celebrate it with a trip, even just an overnight one. To my family, making memories on a birthday is much more special than receiving lots of gifts (though that’s nice too). I love our birthday philosophy because we get to travel a little bit more, and we get to hold on to something that lasts, rather than some cute clothes that will only last a season or two.

SO – I was charged with semi-planning this trip! I say semi-planning because I actually have to take other people’s opinions into consideration whilst putting together a super schedule. What a drag… Good thing we’re mostly all settled on the ideas! Catch is, my sister and dad aren’t supposed to know what we’re planning each day. We’re hoping to put together a little riddle or small gift that they’ll open each day of the trip to guess what we’re doing that day. Hopefully we can keep this a surprise!

We decided on 3 things about this trip before we started really planning.

1. We wanted a FULL schedule. Every day should be planned out – even if we decide to switch around days because of weather, we will have something prepared for every day. Sometimes that means even penciling in rests. That may sound a little crazy, but due to past experience, if we don’t have things on the calendar for a trip, we end up sitting around in the hotel room most of the time. Boring.

2. We wanted to limit ourselves to one meal out per day. We’re staying in a hotel with a kitchenette, so we’ll be preparing additional meals in our room. I may be breaking the rules a little bit, but I also have 2 fancy snacks on the roster, in addition to our meals out. But that’s not bad for a 7 day trip! I think we’re going to save tons of money by choosing to make most of our meals ourselves.

3. We wanted a little bit of every type of experience! So far, I’ve planned for nature walks and hikes, museums, swimming, eating, an aquarium, a farmer’s market, mall shopping, tennis… really hitting it all the way around.

Here’s how I’m planning it.

1. has been an awesome resource for me. You can put in start and end locations and see all kinds of cool stuff to do and yummy places to eat along the way!

2. I’ve printed out a week calendar to write in the different activities we’re hoping to conquer each day.

3. As I’m filling out the calendar (in pencil, of course), I make notes for what we’ll do in the morning, afternoon, and evening, as well as where we’ll eat.

4. Once I have a solidified schedule, I highlight the different “types” of activities with different colored highlighters. Yes, I take my trip planning very seriously. I used green for anything nature-ish, yellow for anything historical/eduational, blue for shopping, and orange for eating.

These are some places we’re planning to hit.


Sprinkles Cupcake ATM. It’s a necessity. (This is one of those snacks I was telling you about.)


Torrey Pines State Reserve. 


Fashion Valley Mall.


Mission San Diego De Alcala.


Sunset Cliffs Natural Park.


The pool at our hotel.

We’ve been saving up for this trip for a little while now, and by having it all planned out – including movie nights in the hotel room, we know we’ll get the best bang for our buck!

By the way – aside from eating – we have 12 “events” planned. And 9 of them are free. The remaining 3 are a mall trip, a farmer’s market, and the aquarium. You really can do trips on a smaller budget than you think!

We’re not going too far from home, so we don’t have plane tickets to worry about. Plus, it’s really fun to explore your home state.

I’m hoping these places are as beautiful as they look on Pinterest. I guess I’ll be finding out soon!


One thought on “birthday trip planning – scheduling activities

  1. Pingback: Carlsbad, CA – family vacation | ruby rae studio

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