Affordable Summer Vacation Ideas

0 comments Posted on June 4, 2018

by Dianne Barker

Are rising gas prices and a tight budget causing you to re-think vacation plans? Your family can still enjoy summer without spending a ton of money.

Consider a staycation! It may be the most memorable leisure event ever.

Instead of preparing for a week-long vacation hours away and spending way too much on travel and lodging, set aside one day a week for a series of staycations.

Stop by your local tourist bureau (or nearest Cracker Barrel restaurant) and pick up brochures. You might be surprised at how many attractions are within a short driving distance. Here are some ideas.

Visit a theme park, state park or water park.

Have a lakeside picnic or go river rafting.

Spend the day at a history museum.

Attend a free community concert.

Play a game of miniature golf.

Take advantage of your local library’s summer program for children. When my kids were young, the library’s summer reading program included a “worm race” that we’ll never forget.

Buy or borrow a tent and plan an overnight stay at a nearby campground (make sure tent camping is permitted). And who says you can’t camp in your own backyard? For his tenth birthday, my son asked for a tent. Our family’s first camping adventure at a state park is among our favorite memories.

Plan a cookout/rent-a-movie night.

Find a bike trail and pack a picnic.

Go to the zoo. Been there, done that? Do it again! Animals never lose their appeal.

See a production at your community theater. Why not audition for a part?

Do a mission outreach—volunteer for a Habitat for Humanity project.

Take a hike or go fly a kite. Those aren’t just flippant ways of saying “get lost.” They’re fun activities!

Visit a planetarium.

Find a lake nearby that offers paddleboats, canoes and kayaks for rent. Wear life jackets, even if you’re comfortable and experienced around water.

Invite a few neighbors for a cooking competition, complete with judges and awards. Plan the meal in advance then enjoy it together.

Have a pajama day. Watch movies and serve breakfast food for all meals.

Research local heroes and visit monuments erected in their honor. Years ago, a friend visiting from out-of-state asked about a monument as we drove past. My husband and I had no idea who the man was or what he had done, even though we’d driven by the monument hundreds of times.

Host a storybook-character costume party.

Enroll in a painting or pottery class.

A staycation deserves your full attention. That means you are unavailable. No appointments. No electronic devices. Really…can’t you take a day off from email? No laundry, cleaning or cooking. Eat out, even if it’s a burger and fries. You’re on vacation! Don’t let routine interruptions spoil it.

If you have a little extra money, book one night at a local hotel. Swim or relax in the sun and then dine at an inexpensive restaurant. You’ll feel like you’re on vacation, even if it’s short-term.

And if your heart’s set on an out-of-town trip…

Trade a vacation week with friends in another city or state. Your family will visit them, staying free of charge but contributing to the food costs. They can escort you to local attractions. You’ll return the kindness by hosting them in your home. If you—or they—live near Washington, D.C. or New York City, this could be the experience of a lifetime.

Wherever you live, you can find much to see and do. Let your creativity kick in.

Our struggling economy has made the staycation popular in recent years. Give it some thought. You can do so much more for so much less. But guard your mindset. If you’re thinking a staycation is below par and feeling cheated, you’ll miss out on the joy. You’re choosing to use your money and time wisely. Put your heart into this adventure. A great attitude is the best item to take on vacation . . . or staycation!

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host and author of 11 books, including I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s serves as secretary for Christian Authors Network and is a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit

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