Summer Vacation on a Budget

School’s almost out for the summer, and with it comes bored kiddos.  They whine and wait impatiently for it to come, but within two weeks you’ll hear them whining “But I’m B-O-O-R-E-D!!”  My solution is to have some sort of weekly plan to help!

Every year we set up a weekly plan.  Mondays are rest/play outside days.  Tuesdays are attraction days–we travel to a local attraction.  Wednesdays are ‘recover from the attraction’ days.  (Really, Mommy needs a day to recover, and so do the kids.)  Thursdays are errand running days.  And then we have Field trip Fridays, when we visit local free spots.  This really helps the kids know what to expect, and for me to know how to plan out the things I need to get done.

But on to the saving money part….you know I always have to share a money-saving tip.  😉

I always recommend looking into season passes somewhere local.  We have two–one to the zoo, and one to the local amusement park.  We paid a little under $500 for the two–but they are invaluable!  For a family of four to the zoo, we pay just over $100.  The Cincinnati Zoo is in the top 5 zoos in the nation, and can keep my kids entertained (and educated!) for hours.  We go up at least every other week during the summer, and lots in the fall/winter too.  Our membership includes parking, train rides, tram rides (its a hilly park, very nice when you’ve got kids!) and the carousel.  Its a great deal!  Then we also have a season pass to Kings Island, the local amusement park.  Once a week in the morning we’ll hop in the car, have breakfast to go (cereal bars, anyone?) and hit the park as its opening.  Since it includes a special parking zone for season pass holders, we’re up front and ready to go!  We’ll spend the morning riding rides, stop for a picnic lunch and then head over to the water park, where we’ll splash around for a few hours, until 4, when we’ll pack up and head home, just beating the rush hour.  So for $350 a year, we get 6 hours of fun a week, 12 weeks out of the year.  Since its normally $30 a day per person, this is a great deal for us!  We’ll also take a few Saturdays and go as a family, or a weekend and meet grandparents or aunts and uncles there.  Those passes definitely get used!  And I swear, that for two days after Kings Island or the Zoo, my kids are little angels.  They’re so worn out and spun, bounced, swimmed out–they’re like little zombies for two days.  Its SO worth it!!

For Field Trip Fridays we’ll visit various places–the local conservatory, arboreteum, art museum, fire station, zoo, train station, airport, library, etc.  Where would your school take your kids on field trips?  We look for the cheapest (FREE) options, then head there.  Helps keep their brains active and boredom at bay!

Some other cheap entertainment…have the kids work on a play or talent show for a week–then get all the neighbors together for a big show!  This is a great idea for Fourth of July or the end of summer vacation.  Go on nature walks.  Take duck tape and wrap it around their wrists, inside out.  (Sticky side out.)  Let them pick up goodies they find along the way, sticking them to the tape.  Things like leaves, sticks, fossils, etc.  Neighborhood parades are always fun too!  And no, I don’t mean official ones.  Pick a date and invite the neighbor kids.  Each family can decorate their bikes, trikes, scooters, wagons and so on, then parade up and down the street one night!  This can be a one-home thing, or a whole street thing.  Put some oom-pah music on the radio and let the kids go at it!

There are tons of things you can do this summer–a little money spent in the beginning could go a long, long way!