Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to summer, even if in some parts of the country kids are still in school and the weather feels more like early spring.
Three months of summer sounds like a long time, but in less than 100 days we’ll be coming off the heels of Labor Day weekend. If you are like me, you have a LOT of places you want to go and things you want to before the summer is over, right? I’m guessing you also have a budget to work within, too?
There is no need to let a budget stand in the way of your fun. Here are some ideas to make the most of your summer vacation (no matter how long it is) within the confines of your budget:
- Visit your local library. Most libraries put on a summer reading program that starts right after school ends. What exactly the program will entail differs from library to library, but it’s worth checking out (no pun intended). We lived near a library that had a weekly story and craft hour all summer long when my children were little. Our local library offers special programing during the summer that has featured reptile shows, magicians and other fun (and free) activities. While you are there, inquire about free passes to local attractions. Libraries often get passes to museums, historical attractions, and other places that you can go with your family for free. You check out the passes like you would a library book, bring them to wherever you are going, and then return them to the library when you are done.
- Vacation in your own back yard. I’m not talking about becoming a tourist in your own town (see point 3), I’m talking about your actual back yard. Set up a tent and camp out in your back yard. Get a piece of rope or clothes line, a large white sheet, and a projector and invite your neighbors over for a movie night. You can serve grilled hot dogs and popcorn for dinner and s’mores for dessert. Invest in a plastic baby pool (if you don’t have an actual pool) and on really hot days fill the pool with cold water, grab a few beverages, a few friends and just hang out. Whether you choose to sit with just your feet in the pool, or your whole selves in the pool is up to you. Just don’t forget the sunscreen.
- Become a tourist in your own town (and nearby ones as well). Sometimes we get so caught up in traveling to other locations, that we forget what kind of wonderful treasures there are right around our own towns. Go on walking tours of your town. Make a scavenger hunt and see who can find the most items on your list. You could even buy prizes for the top winners at the local Dollar Store. Does your town have a historical museum? Parks? Local musicians that perform? Poetry readings? Hunt these types of events down and check them out.
- Visit State and National Parks. Not only are the admissions prices reasonable, if you have a child in the fourth grade, they get in for free. Visit Every Kid in a Park to find out more about this program.
- Think outside the box. Does your neighbor have a pool? Maybe they’ll let you use it during the day if you babysit their kids once a week. Want to rent a house at the beach but can’t afford the price tag? What if you split the cost with some friends or family members? Maybe your in-laws have a camper and they’ll let you borrow it if you promise to show up for Sunday dinner.
Don’t get caught up in thinking about all the things you can’t do or why you can’t do them. Instead, look for opportunities to have fun in places that may not be so obvious. Focus on spending time with your people, learning new things, and relaxing.
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