Tiny Budget & Big Fun: Summer Vacation in Your Own Town

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by Ed

Summer Vacation is awesome. It can mean road trips, cottage rentals, amusement parks and beaches.

All of these can be fun but they're time-consuming and their financial costs quickly add up. Plus, the average family can't spend every week of the summer doing 'a big trip'.

We decided to distill some ideas that can fit into any week, any budget and -best of all- you can discover (or rediscover) many of these things in your own backyard.

Local Museums and Library “Event Days” 
Sure, you’ve probably seen much of what your local cultural centres usually have to offer, but events or touring displays can be great. Our local Library (and likely yours as well) has amazing kids programs every day all summer. You could go practically every weekday and see something different. 

Backyard camping
Set the tent up in your backyard and you get to experience sleeping out of doors, while still enjoying the glory of indoor plumbing and saving a bundle over campgrounds. Depending on your local fire bylaws, you may be able to gather around a fire pit and roast marshmallows, too. 

Stay Local 
Sometimes the hotel experience is all anyone needs to call it a vacation. During a hot spell, find a coupon deal (think: Groupon, WagJag, Living Social or travelzoo) for a local place with unlimited AC and a pool. Enjoy an in-room movie and bring a picnic meal from home and it may not cost you much more than a normal night out. Also, check out Trip Advisor for your own area – it’s not just useful for far off destinations – you might be surprised by what you find.

Create a B&B for yourself 
No good deals on hotels? Turn your house into one. See if the grandparents can take the kids for a couple days/ find a pet sitter for the dog. To really make it feel like a break from the usual- if you have a spare room, consider moving into it for a couple days, order takeout (call it “Room Service”) and drink wine with lunch. You’d be surprised how quickly home can feel like a vacation.

Splash Pads, Parks and Playgrounds 
Every town has a few and large towns have many. We tend to get locked into going to the ones closest to our home, but if you make the effort to walk/bike/drive a bit further, you can find some really cool stuff. We’ve even gone park-hopping on bikes to try and visit as many as possible in one day.

Local trails 
Go online and find a section of the TransCanada Trail near you or just Google trails near your town and get out there. We’ve found many great walking/biking trails this way, and in most cases, less than 30 minutes from our front door. Consider adding a Trail App or two to your phone and you’ll never be without options.

Urban Quest 
Live in or near a major North American City? Try an Urban Quest. A high-tech, scavenger hunt super-deal that we found to be much more engaging and fun than just wandering around on your own. Great for groups (Robin did one with girlfriends on her birthday and they had a blast).

Local Sports and Music 
Minor league baseball, bars with local talent nights and music festivals are all probably going on in or around your town this summer. Check them out – they are cheaper than the other options and you’ll likely still have a great time.

Try and look at your own city with new tourist-like eyes. There’s probably something fabulous and free (or really cheap!) in your own neck of the woods. Maybe even – the woods?

For more affordable Vacation Ideas - we've got you covered!  Check them out here.

What's you're favourite local stay-cation idea?


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