By Tina Gersdorf-Whobrey
I thought it was only appropriate to write about a nice big date away from home after writing about having a date night at home. There are certainly limiting factors for getting out of town, but if you can tackle the two biggies (finances and childcare), you’re ready to go. Champaign-Urbana is in a lovely location with towns close enough for a quick visit, but far enough away to get a hotel for a night (or two!). Think: Chicago, St. Louis, Indianapolis, or even Bloomington. And now, I’d bet you’re even thinking of a few others!
It’s not about the destination, though, right? It’s about the journey. What I love most about “date-aways” is how long they last. A date-night lasts a few hours, and may have taken a little time for which to plan and prepare. A date-away might last days, and starts much before the kids head off to Grandma’s. It can be as involved as you, as a couple, desire. You and your partner can begin to prepare weeks in advance. Here are some fun questions to ask yourself:
- What is the goal of your trip?
- Getting out and seeing the sites?
- Staying in and enjoying not doing anything?
- What activities will be included?
- Will you be playful and laid back, going to the zoo, a show and a pub?
- Are you feeling up for a fancy trip, complete with a fine dining experience, room service breakfast, and the art museum?
- Will you try to mix it up, having to go back to the hotel to shower and change into evening wear?
- Where will you stay?
- Oh the hotel search! Who does it in your life, you or your partner? Or do you work on that together?
- Fancy or affordable?
- Hotel or bed and breakfast?
- What amenities are important to you?
- Where will you eat?
- What food are do you feel like you can’t get in town? (and I mean really get)
- What is your destination location known for?
Another question you might be asking is, “How will you ever communicate with your partner about all this when you barely have time to discuss the first day of school and your new work schedule?” We have a couple things we do here to help our communication for bigger events (though some bleed into our regular forms of communication). We hold ‘family meetings’. If you already do this with the whole family, schedule a couple for just you, to discuss your trip. This can even be a date in-itself! (See “A Lovely Date-Night In”.) Also,you can share a Google Doc. This allows for a living, growing brainstorm between the two of you, as well as a way to put out all your ideas before coming together to make plans.
We try to do a little get-away at least once a year, for our anniversary. Just recently, our trip was to St. Louis and we really mixed it up this time. We went on our own for the first night, and then my husband’s parents, who watched our son overnight, drove out to meet us for the second night. Our first day was spent at the City Museum, which I HIGHLY recommend as a couple’s outing, even though it is also family friendly. It is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been, and it’s totally affordable. We played like little kids, observed like intellectuals, and drank a beer in between! After returning to the room for a much-needed shower and wardrobe change, we went to the Schlafly Tap Room for dinner and Baileys’ Chocolate Bar for dessert. (A big thanks to Cara for the recommendations!) Our second day consisted of getting breakfast and staying in the room, watching movies and playing games, until our date turned into a family outing. We had our son with us that night, and my in-laws had their own room. On the last day, we went to the St. Louis Zoo as a family. Of course, both nights involved a few rounds of games in the room!
Overall, getting out of town together is a great way to connect. This date can be what you need at the moment and allows for so much interpretation. Remember to enjoy the journey…because no matter where you end up, no one can take away that drive-through burger and fries you had at 10:30am…no one.
Tina Whobrey moved to Chambana with a friend in 2000. Since then she has attended Parkland, ISU, and finally the U of I, where she earned her Master’s Degree in Education. She taught middle school Social Studies for five years, married her favorite person in the world and moved to NY state. They decided C-U was “home” and moved back to have their son, who is now 1 ½ years old.