Summertime is usually seen as vacation time because the kids are out of school and the weather is nice enough to get out and do things. But you don’t have to break the bank in order to get out and have some fun with the kids on a nice day. Here’s where creativity comes into the picture as we discuss some cheap, and often free ideas to take a close to home vacation with the kids.
1) Camping. This is the ultimate summer activity that sticks in the hearts and minds of children as they grow. We all remember taking trips out into the woods or out to the lake with our parents and siblings to get back to nature. What you might not know is that there are many places you can camp for free, plus the cost of food. The number one place to camp for free is in your own back yard. It may not be as pretty as the woods or a lake, but the kids will think it’s just as fun. You can also search camping books from the library, or the internet to find free or low cost campground in your area. While the free campgrounds do not have the nicer amenities like showers or running toilets, they are still set in beautiful locations, and are a great place to get out and enjoy the nice weather.
2) A trip to the park. Taking a trip to the local park on a nice day is a great way to get your kids away from the TV. Many city parks have play equipment, and even those that don’t often have nature trails, which are great ways to introduce your kids to nature and give them a lesson on bugs, birds, animal tracks, or the local plant life. Make it an expedition. Don’t forget to bring the bicycles along if it’s a park with paved trails, because the kids will love biking around with their parents just as much as hiking.
3) Barbecues. Why not invite some friends and family over for a potluck barbecue? All you need is a back yard, some lawn furniture, and a grill, and you’re set. Tell everybody to bring one dish, and let the kids invite a couple of friends as well. Pull out some board games and you’re good to go for a memorable evening.
4) Picnics. This is a great way to combine a trip to the park and a barbecue. All you need is food, a blanket, and a place to go. Have a picnic in your backyard, or down at the park in a shady spot on the grass.
5) Go swimming. Pick a swimming pool and pay a small fee for each person, or find a clean lake nearby with a roped off swimming area and pay one fee for parking for the day. Don’t forget sunscreen if you’ll be outside, and life jackets for those who don’t yet know how to swim. Wherever you choose to swim, this is another one of those memorable activities that all kids will love.
6) Treasure hunt. Why not go into your back yard, or a local park, and hide Tupperware containers with candy or other goodies? Have dad watch the kids while mom goes out and hides things, and then both parents can lead kids around with a treasure map as they try to find hidden pirate (or rather, hidden parent) treasure!
7) Stargazing. Go out into your backyard on a warm night with a blanket, and make up your own constellations with the kids as you lay on the blanket and eat marshmallows or fruits and veggies. This is also a great time to teach your kids a little science lesson.
Bottom line: You don’t have to empty your bank account to have fun in the summer, and you don’t have to go far from home to have the perfect vacation. Get creative, and ask your kids for ideas. You’ll be surprised at the amount of fun you can have for under $10.