5 Frugal Ways For You and Your Kids to Spend Summer Vacation

Who says you can’t have fun unless you spend money?  Here at Generation X Finance, we are full of suggestions on how to stretch your dollars further.  Summer vacations are no exception.  If you can’t afford to take the kids to Disney World this year, why not opt to find a more frugal type of entertainment?  From summer reading programs to free movies, there are plenty of reasons to get out of the house and have some fun no matter how tight your budget may be. A staycation has never been so much fun!

Reasons to Have Some Fun in the Summer

Here are five free summer activities for you to try:

  • Books, Check Em’ Out. Libraries nationwide have Reading Programs designed to entice readers to expand their horizons and widen the depths of their imaginations.  Library Cards are free to obtain and have many advantages.  Not only can you check items out, you can also participate in events and attend free classes.  You can help your children develop a love for reading by taking them on a trip to your local library.
  • Get Outdoors. From public parks to city beaches, you can spend your day in the sun’laughing, swimming, and sunbathing for nothing more than the cost of the gas to get there.  Pack a picnic lunch and plenty of drinks and snacks.  Design an activity book according to your chosen theme of the day and give each child a copy of it with a box of crayons to keep them occupied on the way to the location.  Not only will it keep them busy, it also will provide them with a no-cost souvenir that will remind them of their day of fun.
  • Go See a Film. Many movie theaters have Free Family Film Festivals throughout the months of June, July, and August.  You can view a list of the titles being shown by visiting the company’s website.  Some communities also do a Movie in the Park.  Pop a few bags of popcorn, throw some cold drinks into your purse or mini cooler, and pack up a couple of blankets for your family to sit on.  Nothing beats watching your favorite film underneath a bed of stars.
  • Be a Tourist in Your Own Town. Fire up the ol’ digital camera and explore parts of your city that you have never been to.  Try to cover as much ground as you can by foot and stop and take lots of pictures along the way.  Visit museums and monuments that do not charge an entrance fee and learn about your hometown’s rich personal history.
  • Help Others in Need. Find a way to bring joy to other people’s lives.  Volunteer to visit with elderly people in your community or help teach a person how to read.  There are plenty of opportunities to improve the greater good of humanity.  You can start by visiting Volunteer Match and signing up for a free account.  Thousands of organizations need your help in one way or another and you will walk away from the experience knowing that your hard work was put to good use.

Living on a tight budget requires creativity and a willingness to try new things.  The aforementioned list, although short, gives you plenty of ways to spend your vacation.  Now it is up to you to make something magical happen.  Grab your spouse and children and get outdoors.  Not only will a change in routine brighten your smile, it may be the start of some great family traditions.

Charissa Arsaoui is a freelance writer for ChickSpeak, Buzzine, DisFUNKshion Magazine, Student Stuff, and a guest contributor for Wisebread.  She loves thrift related topics and can spot a bargain a mile away.

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Filed Under: Frugal Living


About the Author: Charissa Arsaoui is a freelance writer with a love for thrift. She contributes to many different personal finance blogs.


Keep your kids away from video games. Get them to play outside, read some books, go to the beach with the whole family, or yes, go see a movie together. If you plan about it well, you can all spend the summer inexpensively yet full of fun.


What a great post! I really like the idea of summer reading programs. I remember spending many summers as a little kid going to the library to participate in the reading program there. There was a theme each year, such as mystery or the jungle and lots of fun games and prizes! Another way to have fun this summer is to do some fun science experiments. Try making a volcano, balloons blow up with lemon juice and baking soda, a bubble mixing race, mixing colours, or picking up an ice cube with salt and a piece of thread.


This is a wonderful post. Vacation is supposed to be fun, not expensive. And expensive doesn't always equal fun. It would also be nice to have the children get used to frugal/practical living, so that they grow up learning about it too. :)


I think if you live near some beaches, then it would be a nice place to go on a family outing

Credit Girl
Credit Girl

@Kt-lifedividend: Often times our public library will offer these "movie nights under the stars" program where children and their families can come watch a movie right outside the library for free. Lots of local places also offer movie screenings for a couple bucks, too. Just FYI in case you didn't want to spend $11 on a ticket nowadays.

kt- lifedividend
kt- lifedividend

these are very useful tips; i would prefer getting them books and things to keep them occupied that will not cost a fortune like taking them to the movies. In the long run books are much cheaper than movies

Credit Girl
Credit Girl

There are so many creative activities to do in a local area. I know that in my area we have little museums a 5-minute drive away. Admission's a couple dollars(relatively cheap) and they help to support the local business. Not only that but it's also a great learning experience for the kids.

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