Have Some Frugal Fun as a Family This Summer
There's a never-ending list of tips for families!
My last few blog articles were centered around children's summer camp. I was buried in the planning process for what feels like far longer than summer camp lasts. Hopefully, my four favorite children's summer camp websites will help you with that task next year. I also shared a list of the top ten items to make children's summer camp a success. Maybe your kids haven't started camp yet, and you'll benefit from the list. I'll continue to follow my own advice (at least I hope I do) since my two kiddos were well prepared for the kickoff to summer camp fun this year. But what about family fun? I don't know about you but driving kids all over the place for camp isn't my idea of fun.
Take a break now.
Yes, now. Caught up in the whole camp registration and preparation process had me forgetting to leave time in our busy schedules for a bit of family fun. Even with back-to-back camp experiences, summertime is usually an ideal time for a break before school starts again. And if your kids aren't also dealing with summer school, it even allows fun with the kids without them having to miss a single day of classroom time. Shared experiences are meaningful, too, and deserve as much thought, although thankfully not usually the same intensive planning. Taking a break can be beneficial in many ways for both kids and their parents. And make sure to leave some idle time by not overscheduling every day. I understand taking a break is easier said than done. Some parents may work and not be able to take time. Others might not have the luxury to afford a vacation, especially when trying to keep up with “Joneses” and their ten-day Disney Cruise of a lifetime! There are alternatives even for the time-starved or lower-budget families.
Funding for your summer fun.
If you have your heart set on taking an extravagant summer trip or going on that wild adventure you've always dreamed about, be realistic with yourself. You may find yourself not having enough money to make it happen when you really want to, like now! Transforming dull plans into something unforgettable can be expensive. In that case, a personal loan can be an option to help make things happen sooner for you. But don’t put your budget out of whack, because there are ways to have fun and not spend more money than planned, read on!
Sharing a good time can live on forever.
Maybe taking out a personal loan isn't an option for you. I can assure you, though, it is possible to still squeeze in a bit of family fun with limited time and little to no money. Let's face it, this year hasn't been kind to anyone, and many families are finding the need to be budget-conscious as a regular way of life. There are many opportunities and plenty of reasonably priced destinations—these alternatives allow families to share time and create memories to last a lifetime. Travel + Leisure offers valuable tips to have a fun summer trip without breaking the bank.
Determine the cost and create a budget.
Spending money wisely to make it go farther is one significant way families can cut costs without jeopardizing the fun factor. You can avoid overspending by setting an overall budget. Try setting a limit on daily spending to help you stick to it. Finding great deals and considering discounts can't hurt either. Working vacation around a business trip, choosing an experience where you can volunteer for a great cause, or not hesitating to take advantage where select discounts apply, like for people over 65, veterans, and kids under a certain age – are all options that can save you time and still provide an amazing experience.
Timing can be key to making things happen.
When booking a trip of any kind, the timing of things can have a significant impact. Making plans well in advance of a predetermined date can give you a leg up. Weeks or months out, you could be watching for discounts on airfare by setting up flight deal alerts through websites like Kayak or Skyscanner. Doing your homework and research can be vital to finding insider tips from travel gurus posting advice and reviews online with sites such as TripAdvisor. Their knowledge and know-how can assist you with arranging affordable lodging by offering price comparisons. Visiting locations in their off-season can also save you money, although a summer vacation when the temp will be over 100 degrees may not be as much fun as you hope.
Can't find the right time or place to take a family vacation. What then?
It's not the end of the world if a trip isn't in the cards. It can be challenging trying to get everyone on the same schedule or even the same page when choosing a destination. A family vacation doesn't have to mean going anywhere at all. You don't even need an extended length of time to block out or spend an overnight. There are plenty of things to do with a little bit of creativity and an open mind.
Try out new things you may be surprised at what you and your family enjoy!
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Outside may be where it's at.
- How about pitching a tent outside for a night of stargazing? Yup, there's even an app to help with that. Don't worry if you can't go outside; you can still watch and learn about constellations. Google Sky makes it possible to see through the "eyes" of the Hubble Space Telescope on either your mobile or desktop. Indoors our out, a camping adventure can still be fun.
- Maybe you and your family would enjoy going on a bicycle trail ride and stopping for a picnic lunch? No bike, no problem. Just search for bike rental places near you. Many bicycle shops offer rentals, too.
Inside can be just as nice.
You can also staycation and limit it to spending time indoors. No matter where you live, the weather is not always ideal. Mother nature can be cruel at times. Scorching hot temperatures reaching record highs or days upon days of rain in a torrential downpour can put a damper on things. Here are some activities to do instead.
- Plan a board or video game tournament.
- Conduct a taste tour around a town, state, or country you'd like to explore.
- Find authentic regional recipes to whip up and enjoy. Each family member can find some facts about the place and make a mini-presentation to share. Hosting a culinary feast can be a treat while learning about lifestyles, customs, and traditions.
Make that family fun happen this summer.
"Time is money." -Benjamin Franklin
As old Ben has said, don't delay or miss an opportunity. Get started, and don't wait for another minute, day or week to go by before getting the family fun squared away. I’m with Ben, and urge you to do the same -now.
One additional thought I’d like to leave you with.
Since my next post won't be until August, I want to share some advice with you before most of the summer has already passed. Don't forget to leave unscheduled time to unwind. After summer camps end and family vacations have become a distant memory, allocate time to slow down. Taking a pause can be helpful for kids and parents alike to get back to some semblance of routine. It's a convenient time for us all to have this transitional period free to wrap up any unfinished business, reconnect with each other, and not worry about what's next. I’m about to head out on my family vacation and I know I won't be worrying, at least until August's post comes due.
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