Looking forward to a long summer vacation, but feeling a little short on cash? With the price of gasoline high, not to mention restaurant bills and the cost of accommodations on the road, many of us are questioning whether vacation travel is possible this year. Here are four ideas for summer activities that won’t break the bank.

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  1. Pretend you are on vacation in another town. What do you do when you travel to another city? Go to museums, take in the sights, enjoy a spa treatment, rub elbows with the locals? Well guess what, that’s exactly what tourists do when they visit your town. Taking in the sights in your city is a great opportunity to enjoy your vacation without leaving home. Visit your local chamber of commerce visitors bureau to see what activities there are to do around town. Bet you’ll find plenty in your town or another within a few hours to keep you and the kids occupied and happy.
  2. Travel to someplace unexpected. Hey, that’s why we have the internet, to scout out last-minute deals, right? Put “cheap travel” into your web browser and see what you find. It probably won’t be the dream trip to the Mediterranean you’d love to take, and that’s okay. Travel to a discounted location site you’ve never considered, and I guarantee you’ll find lots of unexpected delights.
  3. Do something different every day. If you opt for a staycation, that doesn’t have to mean staying home and doing nothing. Find some activities that you are too busy to do when you aren’t on vacation, and do them now. Maybe it is a concert in the park, rollerblading down by the beach, a visit to story-hour at the library, visiting the zoo (or even a pet store), bowling with the family, swimming in a nearby lake, or window shopping in the quaint little mall that you never have time to browse. It could even be pitching a tent in the backyard and camping out for the night. Bet you’ve never heard those owls before, have you?
  4. Find a project nearby and volunteer to help out during your vacation. It might be building a home for Habitats for Humanity or picking up trash with other volunteers. As long as you are engaged in a common activity with others, you are bound to have a great time, and who knows, you might make some new life-long friends.

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Skip the hotels. If you have your heart set on traveling, that’s great. You can still travel and save some money by renting a camper and staying at RV sites, or camping out in national parks, or participating in a home exchange. Since lodging is a major cost of vacationing, that will reduce your expenses considerably.