Want to help your kids snatch up a ton of sweets while staying safe and minimizing travel distance? Mapping out your trick-or-route in advance is a surefire way to make the most of Beggars’ Night. Kids love playing make-believe, and they’re really good at begging for candy. This is the one time of the year they get to combine these two disparate disciplines. Help your child live large on the big night by making the necessary preparations. Here are our top tips for optimizing your trick-or-treat route this Halloween.
Choose a familiar route
You don’t want you or your kids to get lost. That goes without saying. If you’re lucky enough to live in a neighborhood with high trick-or-treating potential, stick to it. Staying close to home will make it a lot harder to lose your way and a lot easier to ask for directions back. Remember, you don’t have to venture out to a rich neighborhood with big lavish homes to create a memorable trick-or-treat experience. Trick-or-treat is an exercise in community building as much as it is a way of scoring free treats. Let your child explore and take pride in his or her own neighborhood. (Of course, if you live in a rough part of town, no one will blame you for venturing elsewhere).
Talk to the neighbors
This is especially true if you’re new to your neighborhood, but anyone can benefit from chatting with the neighbors. See what their experiences have been like over the past several years. Is Halloween usually pretty tame? Or are there typically a handful of troublemakers running amuck? Are there any houses or particular areas of the neighborhood to be wary of? What about houses notorious for doling out huge candy bars? No one will give you better insight than a local.
Develop a smart route
Once you have a little base knowledge, plan a route. For efficient trick-or-treating, know where you’re going in advance. Wandering from cul-de-sac to cul-de-sac may seem straightforward enough, but if you really want to optimize your route, plan it out beforehand. Doing so will prevent you from having to double back for missed candy-grabbing opportunities. Remember, many streets will have homes on both sides of the road. It is much more efficient (and safe) to take it one side at a time rather than zigzagging back and forth.
Watch out for danger zones
When planning your route, consider safety hazards. As much as possible, you’ll want to avoid busy streets, big intersections, industrial areas and sketchy parts of town. If you’re uncertain of a particular area, drive through it during the evening to get a feel for its overall vibe. Family activity and dog-walking are always good signs. If you’re worried about dodging the local sexual offenders (nearly every neighborhood has at least a couple), visit Family Watchdog for up-to-date listings.
Make a map
This might seem a little hokie, but making a map is a great way to keep the kids on track. When they get worked up into a candy-snatching frenzy, they may be tempted to ditch the plan and obey the whims of caprice. Take some time to craft a fun neighborhood map with your child, drawing out local landmarks and labeling known residences. Present it like a treasure map (perfect for pirate costumers). This will help you both to remember the route and make navigation a little more fun.
Walk your route in advance
You don’t want to plan a route that is over within the first 45 minutes of trick-or-treating, nor do you want to get stranded miles away from home with tired feet and heavy bags. To avoid miscalculating the distance, walk the route before the big night. Bring your child along to set the pace. Remember, it will probably take twice as long once you’re stopping for candy every other house. Use your best judgement and tweak the route as needed. It may be smarter to make a winding snake pattern through the neighborhood rather than a giant circle or linear back-and-forth. Staying close to the house will allow you to end your excursion whenever necessary.
Don’t waste time with Halloween Grinches
If a house doesn’t have its porch light on, don’t waste your time. Let’s say you spends minutes at each unlit house, waiting for someone to answer the door. After 10 houses, you’ve already lost 20 minutes of quality trick-or-treating! Even if you think a house MIGHT have candy, don’t bother unless they display the proper signals. Remember, there are always more houses.
Stick to sidewalks
Last but not least, a note on safety. As we all know, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But even the most streamlined trick-or-treat route needs to put safety and courtesy above speed. Stay on sidewalks and walkways. Don’t let your kids cut through yards or run like maniacs through the streets. If you follow the above guidelines, there will be no need to sacrifice safety to achieve a satisfactory harvest.