Alas we are free again. With many of us partially or fully vaccinated, it feels safe again to be with friends and loved ones in larger gatherings. With summer here, families are now planning their vacation or staycation.
A stark contrast to last year when the pandemic closed everything down – streets and playgrounds were empty and the entire travel and hospitality industry grounded to a halt. Now, we can all start to reconnect, breathe a sigh of relief and get outdoors.
While many who remained employed saved money during the pandemic, some lost their jobs and are in a tougher financial situation. If you are a single parent family impacted by the economic realities of the pandemic and now recovering financially, there are still some great summer time activities you can enjoy at very little cost.
Here are ten tips to planning a fun, budget friendly summer staycation. But before you start your planning, tip #1 is to find ways to save money on fee based facilities you and your family plan to visit.
#1 Check out Discount Programs
Groupon or entertainment books have deals and special promotions for activities in your local area. With many businesses keen to regain their customers back, there may be special discount programs for various activities like mini golf, go karting, waterparks and more.
#2 Local Parks and Trails
Many outdoor activities have reopened in the last several months. Trails and local parks are welcoming visitors once again. Go on a hike, ride your bike or have a picnic with your family and friends. By staying outdoors, you won’t have to wear your mask.
To plan your trail adventure, check out apps that give details on hiking trails with ratings on difficulty, distance and location so you can assess the trail before venturing off. It’s time to play outside with your kids and build memories once again.
If you are a single parent family impacted by the economic realities of the pandemic and now recovering financially, there are still some great summer time activities you can enjoy
#3 Learn a New Skill
It’s never too late to learn a new skill. Geocaching gained popularity a few years ago, but since COVID, participation has waned as people tried to maintain social distance. It is regaining popularity once again after a lull. It’s a game that can offer group participation, adventure, strategic problem solving and physical activity.
#4 Take Day Trips
You don’t have to take expensive extravagant vacations. Explore cities around you and visit other cities that are 2-3 hours from home. Be a tourist in your own region. You might discover a hidden gem close by! Sometimes smaller yet older towns will have museums or great shopping areas. Take the time to learn a little about your surroundings. Check the local regulations for mask and social distancing regulations.
If you don’t have a car, consider borrowing one from a close friend or relative that trusts you or try car-sharing for a relatively cheap alternative to owning a car.
#5 Local Zoos or Aquariums
Many metropolitan areas have zoos or aquariums that have fascinating animals or plant life. These are usually affordable and often have family rates or memberships. Some may even have special discount days. Check groupon or other discount sites to see if there is a coupon for your area. You will probably need a mask in some of these locations. But remember, don’t feed the animals. That rule hasn’t changed with or without the pandemic.
#6 Go on a Playground Tour
If your kids enjoy playing in a playground, check out the various playgrounds around your area. There may be cool monkey bars, slides, swings and teeter totters that your kids would enjoy playing in. Some playgrounds have unique activity centers and water parks that help develop their motor skills, coordination and physical resilience.
#7 Go to the beach
If you plan to go to the local beach, bring a picnic mat, beach towel, foldable chairs and stop by the dollar store to buy toys like frisbees, badminton, hacky sack, water guns and other fun games that keep you all active and engaged.
#8 Go Camping
Campsites are much cheaper than hotel rooms and the fresh air and nature would do you some good so try camping. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good tent and some air mattresses. You might even want to borrow one. Keep in mind that with some popular campgrounds, you might need to book weeks or months in advanced. Go online and find a campsite that’s comfortable for your family.
#9 Local Sporting Event
Throughout the summer, there are minor league baseball and soccer games that you and your family can enjoy. But with a large family, even those games can get a bit pricy. So instead, check out some local summer leagues for college students. These often charge $5-10 for admission and during the game, you can enjoy a variety of affordable concession food to snack on (not always a healthy choice but its part of the experience).
#10 Picnic in your Backyard
If you have a decent yard (whether at the back, front or side), you can set up a picnic or tea party outside with the kids. Prepare some sandwiches, desserts, hot and cold beverages, disposable eco friendly cutlery and a picnic mat or blanket to sit on. There are great ideas on how to create a fun backyard picnic at low cost.
Whether you are enjoying an outdoor activity in your own yard or going to a public outdoor location, check your local mask and social distancing regulations. If you are not fully vaccinated, please continue wearing your mask and social distancing, no matter the regulations. Respect others and do your part to protect everyone.
For the best experience, bring your own sanitizer, extra masks for you and the kids and other materials just in case it is not provided for you so you can be assured that you will not be denied admission and miss out on the fun.