Every summer brings the challenge of trying to cram as much fun into two months as possible without depleting your bank account.  Summer of 2021 promises to be much better than 2020 as CDC guidelines are relaxed and traditional events and activities are returning to our communities. Traveling, attending events and throwing backyard parties all come with a cost though, so before you pack your schedule with expensive activities to make up for all you missed in 2020, let’s consider a few budget-friendly ideas to keep yourself and your family entertained this summer!

Camping

Camping is one of the most enjoyable and affordable vacations you can take and the camping industry was taken by storm during the pandemic.  Significantly more people purchased RVs and made reservations at campgrounds than in previous years. As a result, the costs of motorized camping have risen so you must be intentional about your camping plans to avoid excessive expenses. If you have never camped before and your budget is already tight, try to avoid buying expensive gear (including RVs) this year as there has been a huge spike in prices. Consider other forms of camping, from primitive camping (in a tent) to renting a yurt of cabin through popular Websites such as Airbnb, Hipcamp or Outdoorsy.  Some campgrounds also 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.  While many restrictions have been lifted, businesses are still working hard to ensure the safety of their customers. 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 months of social restrictions and a long winter, we could all use a few good days of stretching our legs and soaking up some fresh air and sunshine.  The great thing about hiking is you do not need any fancy equipment; just a decent pair of sneakers, a water bottle, some sunscreen and a phone to take a few pictures!

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. 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

Now that many people in your social circle are vaccinated, you might be ready to get together! During the pandemic, friends found new ways to socialize while social distancing and they learned that there is more to do together than spending money at malls, restaurants, and bars.  Even as pandemic-related restrictions are lifted, continuing these new traditions such as an evening outdoor book club or potluck dinner can be fun and will help you save money on summer social activities. Consider making your group activities alcohol-free to lower the cost even more.

During the pandemic, we all learned to adjust our expectations for summer plans.  Keep those experiences in mind, along with our budget friendly activities, as you search for summer activities that bring you joy and learn how you can enjoy them while staying safe and financially healthy.  Need help creating a budget to see how much fun money you can put towards summer activities? Call our Financial Advocates today at (800) 642-2227.