9 Ideas for Planning a Fun Summer Vacation
Playing at the beach – free
Guest post from Tiffany of Don’t Waste the Crumbs
Summer is here!
We moms tend to dread those three words since planning activities for ten straight weeks can be overwhelming and seem expensive. But don’t let a budget ruin your family fun.
Here are some suggestions to help make your budget-friendly summer a little more fun:
1. Make going to the park a challenge.
Are the kids tired of the same swings and slides? Create a list of local parks and make it a point to visit one for each week that the kids will be off. Include state parks, beaches, playgrounds, hiking trails, and skate/bike parks for the kids that are beyond swings.
Create a chart to put on the fridge with simple graphics and let them rate the park with thumbs up or thumbs down. Maybe you’ll have a new favorite park when the summer is over!
2. Pretend to be a tourist.
Use a search engine and look up the “10 best things to do” in your city. If your list is relatively short, make it a point to do or visit everything! If your list is long, ask your kids to pick one or two activities that sound interesting to them.
Kids are much more likely to have more fun when they have a choice in the matter. You can even stretch “their” event into “their day” and let the child that chose the activity choose what to have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
Visiting Parks in San Francisco – free
3. Do a little legwork.
Call the event locations, ask your neighbors, email your local chamber of commerce and/or visit your library to see if discounted or free tickets are available for locals. Our local library offers free passes to the aquarium on the first of every month (to locals with a valid ID).
4. Borrow season or “with a friend” passes.
If your friend’s family enjoyed an attraction so much that they bought season passes, there’s a chance your family will enjoy the attraction, too. If your kids have a good time and want to go again, see if your budget will allow the price of season passes.
Most season passes pay for themselves in less than two visits and will last beyond the summer time frame. You can also team up with another family and be their “friend” on a take-a-friend day, or “suggest” season passes to family members as a birthday gift to the kids.
Season Passes to Local Amusement Park – passes were a family Christmas gift and free admittance for kids under 3
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts.
As a local, I know I can park for free if I’m willing to walk a few blocks. I also know that walking a few blocks with a car full of kids and gear can be tiring. Ask the parking attendants if locals get discounted parking, or if parking can be validated with certain establishments.
6. Set a budget for each event and have fun.
You’d be willing to splurge a little if you were truly on vacation, so loosen the reigns just a little bit. Save by packing a lunch or eating at home beforehand, but have fun with an ice cream treat afterward.
7. Mix it up for a day at home.
Take board games outside on a blanket or picnic table, spend the day “camping” in the backyard or create a scavenger hunt outside with their favorite toys. Allow the kids to get messy with chalk or finger paint. Dress them in their swimsuits and turn on the sprinkler! Go for a nature walk and create a picture list of things to “find” along the way.
Watching the airplanes take off and land – free
8. Check local movie theaters.
Local theaters often run a summer special where kids movies will play at the same time, the same day of the week. Tickets are usually inexpensive and this could be a great for rainy days, or when you need a break from the sun.
9. Send your kids to someone’s house for a day.
Team up with other moms and take turns planning a home activity each week that involves all the kids. This would give you a day off and the kids are still having fun while being supervised.
Don’t take on planning the whole summer at once. Start small by planning for one or two days each week. For example, make every Monday a park day and every Friday a field trip. Visit a new park each Monday and a new “event” each Friday and see where the fun leads you!
Tiffany is a full-time mom navigating the bumpy road of food, money and motherhood, while trying not to waste (or lose) crumbs along the way. She blogs about her experiences at Don’t Waste the Crumbs.
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