Take Your Summer Vacation for Less

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Like most people, you’re probably looking to get away for the summer.  The kids are out of school and the weather is finally warm enough that you find yourself looking out your window longingly and wondering what the heck you’re still doing in front of that computer screen.  But with the economy in a perpetual state of recession, you may have to face the fact that your yearly trip to Hawaii must be put on hold.  Don’t fret yet.  Even though you don’t have the dough to do it up like the Kardashians, you can still have a great time planning a getaway this summer for less cash.  There are plenty of ways to arrange cheap (or even free) outings to take advantage of the wonderful weather and some time off work.

Visit relatives.

What better time than summer to catch up with your siblings or cousins and spend a little time away from home?  You will have to pay for travel expenses, but if you go by car you can probably save a significant amount over planes or trains.  And if your relatives can put you up, you won’t have to pay for lodging (although you should contribute to the food bill).  Best of all, they can probably show you around town and offer some tips on money-saving activities.

Go camping.

If you already have the gear, your only expenditures will be food and gas (and probably a minimal fee at the site for the purposes of upkeep).  So spend a week or a weekend without electronics and commune with nature (you can likely find some nice spots close to home).  Throw in a little fishing (or stop at fruit stands along the way) if you want to cut down on your food budget.

Get smart.

Pick up some summer reading at the library (for free!) or check out family days at museums and local attractions.  Many offer discount days during the summer (or may even have a free day) and they also give tours and classes.  Another good bet if you’re looking to learn something is to check out the programs offered by your community center or Parks and Rec…you’ll often find classes in arts and technology, as well as sports and nature hikes for different age groups or the whole family (and at lower prices than private programs).

Go local.

Believe it or not, your home town has something to offer.  Beat the heat by frequenting local watering holes (rivers, lakes, and oceans will all keep you equally cool) or enjoy nature by hiking and biking the local trails.  You could even check out some attractions you’ve always meant to see like the aerospace museum or the world’s largest frying pan (every town has its quirks).

Stay home.

There’s no cheaper way to enjoy summer than by keeping it close to home, so plant a garden, have a cookout, or check out the Perseid meteor showers in mid-August from the comfort of your lawn chair.  Sometimes all it takes to have a relaxing vacation is no plan at all.