By Melanie Dunham

It’s all too common for folks to overlook the treasures in their hometown in favor of a big vacation to an exotic locale, but Chet Garner hopes to change all that. Chet, A.K.A. The Daytripper, takes PBS viewers on daylong field trips around the great state of Texas, hoping his in-state explorations will ignite a local tourism boom and uncover more of those local loves.

AF: Tell us about your family.

CG: We are a busy bunch. My beautiful wife Laura and I have a 5-year-old boy Fielding, a 3-year-old girl Wren, and a 1-year-old girl Cannan. They are all seasoned daytrippers even at this age. Of course, they’ll likely forget most of what we’re experiencing, but deep down it will leave a permanent mark on their character and love of exploration. Besides, we’ve got no intentions of stopping anytime soon.

AF: Who has been your biggest influence?

CG: Hands down it was my parents. The world was a big stage and science lab to both of them, and they really taught me to explore everything around me. Plus, we had a giant closet of dress-up clothes. So, I’m sure that had something to do with my profession of wearing dresses and goofy facial hair.

AF: What’s your favorite thing to do in Austin with your family?

CG: What I love most about Austin is how well the outdoors blends with the city. So my favorite things all happen outside. Whether that’s jumping into Barton Springs or hiking the greenbelt.

AF: With all the work-related travel, do you take trips with your wife and kids? 

CG: YES! Laura and the kids are “The Daytripper’s” official location scouts. Shooting an episode is very demanding, and it would be near impossible to have the kids around. So the family and I take big scouting trips where we visit cities and explore everything they have to offer. After those trips we narrow it down together as to what we want to feature on the episode and then I return with the crew for production.

AF: Where was the last outside-of-Texas place you visited?

CG: Our last out-of-Texas trip was to Colorado in the summertime.  We spent all our time in a little town called Buena Vista. It was an outdoor playground.

AF: You’re a practicing attorney; do you handle legal cases often?

CG: I do legal work every day, but mostly for myself and my production company.  From time to time I do get the chance to help a local business owner or artist, and that’s always fun.

AF: What do you think is the most kid-friendly restaurant in Austin?

CG: I don’t know about the “most” kid-friendly, but some of our favorite spots to eat with the kids are Cherrywood Coffeehouse and Central Market on North Lamar.  But if you ask my kids where they want to eat it is either Rudy’s Bar-B-Q or Mighty Fine Burgers.

AF: How much time is spent working away from your family? How do you balance that with husband/dad time?

CG: My traveling schedule has ramped up recently, but since it is all in Texas, I’m usually away no more than one night, maybe two.  That’s why it is so important for me to take my family on the road with me when possible.  I’ve set a hard rule that I’m away no more than two weekends a month.  It’s definitely challenging to make time every day for my family and my wife, but it’s just a matter of constantly reminding myself of what is important and what isn’t.  It’s much more important for me to play sports in the backyard with my kids than to watch them on TV.  So, hopefully that’s what I’m doing more of.  Wife-­­time is even tougher to come by because she doesn’t jump on my back and demand that I play with her RIGHT NOW!!!  So, that’s something I’ve learned to [protect].  We still go on dates with each other at least once of month.  We’ve made a conscious decision to never have a TV in our bedroom so we spend more time together.  Time away is tough on everyone (including me), so we just make sure we maximize the time together.

AF: What advice do you have for traveling with kids?

CG: You’ve gotta stay flexible. People always say “the joy is in the journey,” but traveling with kids really gives you a chance to live it out.  Even being seasoned trippers, we never arrive at our destination when we think we will.  We rarely make it to the place we want to go for mealtime.  But these are all just opportunities to trip onto the back roads and find something different (and sometimes better) than what you had in mind.

AF: For new family travelers, where’s the first place they should visit in Texas?

CG: This all depends on the age of the kids.  If they are old enough to hike then they’ve gotta head immediately to Enchanted Rock.  That’s where I tell people to start.  I’ve traveled the world and found only a handful of things as awe-inspiring as E-Rock.

AF: Is there anything else you’d like to share with Austin Family readers?

CG: Traveling offe­­­rs the absolute best opportunity for us to teach our kids about the world around them, whether that’s nature, people, food, culture, faith, etc.  And there’s no better way to break out of the normal routines and ruts of life­­ than to just hop in the car with the family and GO!

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