Every summer brings the challenge of trying to cram as much fun into two months as possible without depleting your bank account.  Summer of 2020 brings the added challenge of having fun while following the CDC recommendations for social distancing. For those with children, this summer might start to feel endless as schools push back their start dates.  Here are some great ideas to keep yourself and your family entertained and safe this summer without going over budget.

Camping

Camping is one of the most enjoyable and affordable vacations you can take.  If you have never camped before and your budget is already tight, try to avoid buying gear this year.  Consider borrowing from a friend or search for rental listings. Some campgrounds even offer packages that provide a tent, RV or cabin along with everything you need for a few days of relaxation. This summer is a great time to explore campgrounds close to home.  Traveling a short distance saves on gas money as well as travel time so you can get more out of your vacation.  During the current COVID-19 pandemic, camping close to home in privately owned campgrounds also supports your local economy. Don’t be afraid to ask the campground management lots of questions about how they are addressing social distancing and other CDC recommendations.  The more you know about these accommodations, the more you will be able to enjoy the trip.

Go on Local Hikes

Can’t get away for more than one day?  Day hikes are a great option to enjoy the summer weather, social distance and get some exercise.  After being on stay-at-home orders for a few months, many of us could use a few good days of stretching our legs.  The great thing about hiking is you do not need any fancy equipment; just a decent pair of sneakers, a water bottle and some sunscreen.  Remember to bring your mask just in case you get to a narrow part of the trail where social distancing is difficult.

Encourage Kids to Play Outside the Old-Fashioned Way

Let your kids be free to explore. Do not feel like you have to structure activities every minute of the day.  Give them time and they will quickly be turning an oversized pine tree into their hideout and the driveway into a race track.  Bring a chair outside so you can supervise younger children but also so you can get some of your own time outside.  Bring out a book to read or catch up on that magazine you never get to flip through.  If your kids get bored with the outside toys they have, consider purchasing low cost items such as bubbles and sidewalk chalk.

Organize a Group Activity with Friends

People are finding all new ways of getting together with friends while maintaining social distancing and they are learning that there is more to do together besides spend money at malls, restaurants and bars.  This summer, create new traditions such as an evening book club where everyone brings a chair and blanket, sits fix feet apart and has some great discussion.  Books not your thing?  Don’t worry, just sitting in a big circle with friends is sure to bring some enjoyment.  If you have a porch or deck, consider hosting an outdoor potluck dinner.  Invite your friends to come with a dish to share to cut down on your expenses and consider making it alcohol-free to lower the cost even more.

Just because the economy is struggling and we are living through a pandemic does not mean that life needs to stop.  It simply needs to be adjusted.  Identify the parts of summer that bring you joy and rethink how you can enjoy them while staying safe and financially healthy.