When I was a kid, I really loved amusement parks. Everything buzzed with excitement and I didn’t care if I had to wait in line forever because I had nothing else to do. I was there, in that moment, with my friends and we excitedly passed the time by talking about upcoming movies, favorite crushes, and what rides we would go on next.
As an adult, it was still fun but a lot more work to drag my own kids around these parks. Instead of looking forward to the thrills, I spent my time making sure we had sun protection, snacks, and my trusty fanny pack. I’d sit with the child who was too scared to ride with their sibling, or left the line with another in search of a bathroom. Then, I was benched with a concussion for a couple years and couldn’t go on any rides at all.
By the time I turned 40 this year, I looked up at roller coasters and calculated the risks. What if I had a hidden health condition? Is this thing really safer than driving in a car on the highway? What if I get nauseous? Even though I was cleared from my head injury, the daredevil in me was happy to stay three decades in the past.
That is until I went on a one-on-one date with my teen daughter to a nearby park. We decided to make it a trip about conquering our fears and it was a blast. We focused on each other, ate ridiculous snacks, and jumped on rides that completely intimidated us—and it was AMAZING. So incredible, in fact, that I’ve already gone back twice with other people who are not my kids!
If you haven’t gone thrill-seeking on your own recently, here are my tips for making the most of a kid-free day of adventure!
Ditch Your Phone
There are so many reasons why you should put your phone away. First and foremost—you could lose it and, if you happen to drop it in the middle of a big ride, you probably won’t ever see it again. Of course, another big reason to put away all devices is so that you can live in the moment. Whether you’re dishing up gossip, checking out your surroundings, or making new friends in line, make a conscious decision to be fully present.
Stash your phone in a locker or a bag for safe keeping and check it throughout the day when you need to. If you’re concerned about safety, you can keep your phone in a pouch on a lanyard around your neck. It’s not the most fashionable but it gets the job done and keeps it out of your hands!
Indulge in Carnival Food
You probably don’t eat corn dogs, funnel cakes, or churros on a daily basis but if you go to an amusement park, those are the types of foods you will probably find. If you are on a strict diet, definitely bring your own snacks.
If, however, you can make a few compromises, why not indulge a little and get something you wouldn’t normally eat? You’ll be burning calories as you walk around the park all day so go ahead and splurge!
We have a tendency to want to control every aspect of our lives but there are times when you need to give yourself a little more freedom. Make a conscious effort to let go and relax, even if it’s just a little bit.
Allow yourself to get caught up in the excitement. Look around with wonder and curiosity instead of anxiety and caution. Don’t think about your to-do list or any other obligations. Give yourself permission to have a good time!
Push Your Boundaries
You’ve had an ice cream cone and battled the teacups—now it’s time to kick things up a notch! If you’ve never had the courage to get on a roller coaster, start with the smallest one in the park and gradually move up from there. If nothing else, you will feel proud of yourself for conquering a fear.
Of course, if you know you have debilitating motion sickness, respect your limits. You won’t want to end up regretting your big day. Otherwise, get in line for that drop tower, breathe through your fear and push some boundaries. You might even surprise yourself!
Stay Out Late
You might be tempted to cut your day short and head home in time for dinner but it’s also fun to stay out late for a change. Everything about an amusement park looks really different at night so, even if you go on the same rides, it will be a new experience.
If you went with a friend or romantic partner,find a late-night spot where you can grab something to eat and reflect on your day over drinks. Even if it’s just coffee, give yourself time to unwind before having to sneak into a quiet house.
While a yoga retreat or beach vacation could be really restorative for your soul, spending a day at an amusement park can be liberating and invigorating. If you have to drive several hours to find one, check surrounding hotels for packages that include passes.
Be adventurous, live in the moment and try new things. If fear or stress threaten to take over your plans, make a conscious effort to choose to live in the moment. It will feel amazing.