Celebrate Summer Staycation Style

Father and son campingAlong with sunshine and barbecues, the summer season is often associated with travel. Summer vacations are a tradition for many families. However, the cost of summer travel can be quite high.

Families looking to save money as well as make the most of their summer might want to try a staycation. While it may seem boring at first to not travel far for your vacation, with a little creativity your family could have a wonderful time.

Staycations are a great way to really explore your local community. You might be surprised what you discover. Staycations aren’t limited to simply “staying at home” as day trips to other places around your state can be part of your plans. Here are some low-cost ideas to help you save money as well as make the most of your staycation this summer:

  1. Check out your local scene. While you may reside in/work in an area, chances are you’ve missed some of its “nooks and crannies.” Even if you’ve lived in the same place your entire life, there could still be places or activities that you didn’t know existed. Visit your tourism center to get started. Consider it an adventure!
  2. Many towns both big and small usually have various summer events and festivals. Find a schedule for those occurring in your area. Many of these summer festivals typically offer family activities and even free concerts.
  3. Use your staycation as a time to not only explore but to also work on your fitness. You can do this by visiting your local parks and outdoor walking trails. This can be a great way to relax outside and allow the kids to let loose. To make it a day of fun in the sun bring along a picnic lunch.
  4. For fun that is educational, check out your town and surrounding areas for museums. Many local museums often offer a unique experience. Several museums also typically provide special events and classes.
  5. Speaking of classes, a staycation is the perfect time to take a class in something you’ve always wanted to do. Art classes are popular at many local galleries/museums. Also, several places now offer one night paint lessons, where you not only learn but also get to take home your own artistic creation. This is something fun you could do with friends or your partner. For fitness classes, check out your local gym’s schedule.
  6. Give Geocaching a try. Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. Your local chamber of commerce, library, or visitors’ bureau is a great place to get started.
  7. If the Geocaching scene in your area isn’t great, plan a scavenger hunt for your family instead. A family scavenger hunt is a great way to get in quality time. Offer fun prizes for winners, such as “choose dinner” or “no chores for a week” certificates.
  8. Visit your local swimming pool or area waterpark.
  9. Take a family camping trip from the comfort of your own backyard. If you have the supplies, set up a tent and spend a fun night under the stars. If you don’t have the items you need, you can easily enjoy other fun parts of camping, such as making s’mores or sharing ghost stories around the fire pit.
  10. If you can handle it, try going unplugged for a week. In today’s technology-driven society, it’s rare to see someone out and about without their cellphone in hand. Turn off your devices, except in the case of an emergency, and enjoy the quiet. Going unplugged can give you plenty of spare time you never knew you had! Not only will you be able to spend more time with family, but going unplugged for a week could leave you feeling rejuvenated and ready to return to work after vacation.
  11. Visit your local library. In addition to having a variety of books and movies to choose from, many libraries offer special events and activities during the summer months. From book clubs to summer reading programs, your library can be fun for the entire family.
  12. Host a family movie night. Allow each member of the family to select a movie of their choice from either your family’s collection or on streaming sites, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. Grab some microwave popcorn and settle in. You can even theme your living room to be your own private cinema, or if you have the capabilities to do so, set up a screen in your backyard and enjoy movie time under the stars.
  13. If you aren’t in the mood for a family movie night, try a game night instead. Go the classic route with board and card games or go modern style with console/computer games.
  14. Visit your area amusement park and/or zoo. While you may have to travel a few hours to reach your destination, this can be a wonderful day trip for your family.

There certainly are several routes you can go with your summer staycation. Our ideas are just a few of the many activities out there to plan a terrific time for your entire family to enjoy. Remember a summer vacation doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun.

Have a safe and happy summer!

Save Money During Your Summer Vacation

beach_sun

School is out, the sun is beaming and temperatures are rising. This can only mean one thing: summer has arrived! Along with warmer weather, summer is typically vacation season for many families.

 

Summer vacations are a great way to relax and take in new experiences. However, the stress of money spent on trips can often damper the getaway fun. Typically food costs along with the expense of experiences during vacations means shelling out more cash than your budget generally allows.

 

With proper planning the stress of vacation money troubles can be eliminated. If you plan to fly, check for airlines that offer special deals, such as a free bag check. If this isn’t an option consider only bringing a carry-on for your trip. Take advantage of the free beverage and snacks available on the plane instead of spending money on overpriced food at the airport and during your flight. Avoiding extra airline fees can make a world of difference when it comes to vacation costs.

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Tips for Traveling this Summer

Wow, this food is expensive!

Unless you absolutely can’t avoid it, don’t waste your hard-earned money on airport food. In an airport, you are a captive audience, so they will charge insanely high prices for everything. If you just can’t stand waiting, I recommend something small like a pretzel.

Even when I’m rolling through the airport at a typical mealtime, I’ll only have a snack. Personally, I’d rather save my money and appetite for the really good food when I arrive at my destination.

Less is more.

Twenty dollar bills tucked into jeans pocket. Shallow dof.

Cash is an easy way of paying for things quickly and conveniently, but it does have some drawbacks:

  • One credit or debit card can hold thousands of dollars’ worth of purchasing power, but the same amount of cash puts quite the bulge in your wallet. Save space, travel light on the green.
  • Cash is not replaceable. Once that stack of bills you have in your wallet gets lost or stolen, it’s gone. With a card, you can cancel it quickly and conveniently, significantly minimizing any losses you may incur.

I recommend only carrying enough cash for incidentals, such as tips, cab fares and other small purchases you may want to make. For your big souvenir purchases or vacation dinners, credit or debit cards are much more convenient and likely offer rewards to offset some of the cost.

“Hey, I’m leaving the eastern time zone!”

For your protection, many financial institutions will block cards that show unusual use. For example, being used on vacation in San Francisco, California, when you typically only use your card in the tri-county area. While this may seem like a hassle, it really is for your protection and is avoided by simply calling and letting your financial institution know where you are going to be and for how long.

Compartmentalize.

For the cash you do carry, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I may be going a bit far, but when I travel I carry some in my wallet, some in my checked bag, some in my carry-on and I’ve even been known to stash some in my sock. (Note: take stashed cash out of socks before going through security!) If one or more of these items gets lost or stolen, you should have something stashed away to fall back on. At the very least, I recommend splitting your cash into two separate locations, such as your wallet and your luggage.

Have fun, but be safe!

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Of course, the most important part of vacationing is to have fun, but remember to be safe about it. Don’t flaunt the fact that you are a tourist or that you have a bunch of cash in your wallet. Heavy tourist locations are notorious for having a lot of people who will try to take advantage of the unwary vacationer.

Use the comments below to talk about your best money-saving travel tips.