Summer is here! And with it comes sunshine, no school and a need to keep everyone entertained. When you think of summer fun, you might start to get stressed out thinking about how much it’s all going to cost you. But there are actually some very affordable ways to make this summer one to remember.
1. Take a Staycation
Sometimes we get so caught up in the idea of travel and the concept of seeing something new and far away, we forget about the adventures closer to home. This summer, use travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines as a good excuse to save some money and explore your own city or state. Look online for a few historic places of interest near you. Research the local plant life and wildlife that are common to your area. Then take a short drive or walk and go see them in person. You could even make up a scavenger hunt of places or things to see in your own city. There’s much more to do and learn in our own backyards than we sometimes give them credit for.
2. Take a Virtual Vacation
Even with so much to do close to home, there’s no doubt that traveling is a valuable part of life. It opens your mind to other cultures and offers insight into different ways of thinking. It can even fuel creativity and boost confidence. If you can’t take that special trip this summer, find ways to visit your favorite vacation destination virtually. From virtual reality vision to 360 degree tours and guided online videos, modern technology offers several easy ways to see the world from the comfort and safety of your home. Want to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris? What about the Great Barrier Reef in Australia? Maybe you just want to experience the thrill of a roller coaster from your favorite theme park. You and your family can even take a virtual tour of several popular zoos to get up close and personal with wildlife.
3. Start Storytime
Who doesn’t love a good summertime book? Whether you curl up inside with a blanket (and the air conditioning blasting) or you find a secluded spot to read outdoors, a book’s adventure is somehow better when the weather is warm. Some authors are making their works (including some well-known audiobooks) free during social distancing. Audible is offering a free 30-day trial that includes a free audiobook, and many local libraries offer both audiobooks and eBooks that can be downloaded to a phone or tablet free of charge. Do a little research about the best way to find your favorite books and get lost in another world this summer.
4. Go Camping
By its very nature, camping is one of the most socially isolated activities you and your family can do. Many popular camping spots, including those near tourist destinations and national parks, may be closed this summer. But with a little research, you can likely find a number of camping spots close to home. Look online for the best camping destination near your hometown, then head for the lake or hills, or simply set up camp in your own backyard for the weekend. Nature has a way of giving back to those that explore its beauty. You might find more than Mother Earth in your adventures—an improved mood, less stress, and a better outlook on a troubled world.
5. Learn to Garden
With grocery shopping becoming more inconvenient than ever, there’s no better time to grow your food at home. Whether you grow fruits, vegetables, or just a yard full of beautiful flowers, gardening is a quintessential summer activity. And you can do it without spending a lot of money. Many local nurseries are providing pickup and delivery service. And there are ways to purchase flowers, seeds, bulbs, and plants online. Gardening is a valuable life skill in times of pandemic and in times of plenty. But it takes practice, so learn all you can about the soil, light, and weather conditions that are optimal for plant growth, find a few plants that will grow well where you live, and get gardening.
6. Play Online Games
Social connection is a fundamental human need. It can help reduce anxiety and depression, improve sense of self-worth, and may even boost your immune system. When you can’t connect with friends and family in person, you can still find ways to laugh and have summer fun by playing online games. Set up a weekly online quarantine quiz competition with your extended family, look for the app version of your favorite board game, or find an online video game on Xbox, Switch, PlayStation, or PC to pass the time with friends. Hosting a virtual game night with friends is easy with modern technology. You can even set up a Zoom meeting or video chat with friends as you play. It’s the next best thing to being there in person.
7. Learn a New Skill
Recent psychology and neuroscience studies show that the human brain has amazing capacity for learning new skills at any age. So take advantage of the extra time at home this summer to learn something new. Buy an inexpensive guitar or other instrument and start taking online lessons. If music isn’t your thing, start learning a new language (it might come in handy when you can finally take that vacation). Or, fulfill that lifelong dream of becoming an amateur chef in your own kitchen by experimenting with new recipes and food combinations. Whatever passion you’ve been putting off, now is the time to reconnect with your interests and learn a new skill that will enrich your life.
8. Visit a Museum Online
Always wanted to visit the Louvre in Paris or New York’s Museum of Modern Art? Now you can go there without actually going there. Many of the world’s most famous museums offer virtual tours via Google Arts & Culture (think street view style museum tours a la Google Maps). Amid the current Pandemic, more museums are joining an already impressive list of collections online. If you have kids, bring them along with you. Exploring a museum can have big benefits for growing minds. It exposes them to new experiences and helps them develop curiosities in ways few other experiences can.
9. Make a Movie
Your local movie theater may or may not be open for business this summer. But even if you can’t experience the big screen in person, you can still make movie magic (on a much smaller screen) at home. Using your phone’s camera and a software program like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, you can write, shoot, and edit your own film with relative ease. You can even upload your creation to YouTube to share with friends, family, and strangers from around the world. Get started with a how-to video tutorial for iMovie, Movie Maker, or your software of choice, and let your inner creative genius take over.
10. Watch and Listen
Don’t pay attention to those who discount the value of a good story—even if that story comes from a screen. There are many options to stream high quality movies and TV series to your home. You’ll have to pay a monthly subscription fee to access most content, but it’s still a relatively inexpensive way to spend a summer evening. You can even watch shows online with friends and family while social distancing. Podcasts are another great way to find interesting stories and creative content, and most of it is free. Pull up the podcast player on your smartphone, search for a subject that interests you and start listening. Listening to a podcast is a great way to pass the time while doing yardwork, household chores, or exercising.
This summer might be slightly different than past summers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to make it fun. Use these affordable ideas (or get creative to find a few ways of your own) to make this summer memorable for all the right reasons.