Summer Vacation Sanity Savers

by Shaunna Privratsky


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You dream of summer vacation all winter. You long for the schedule-free days as you're waiting in the carpool line at your child's school for the 217th time. You envision yourself lying on a chaise lounge with an icy cool drink, only the gentle sounds of nature stirring the breeze, instead of the noisy soccer field you are at.

Summer is here, and with it comes a whole different rhythm. The kids are out of school and free to play or sample some of the activities, sports and camps that are available. The days stretch ahead invitingly. Then the bee sting of boredom strikes, sometimes on the second day of vacation.

"There's nothing to do. All my friends are busy. I'm bored." The dreaded "B" word. As parents, we tend to avoid it all costs, to the point of over scheduling our kids. We'll run him or her all over town to hit every class, sporting event or play date we can cook up. By the end of the week, we're so worn out that we're almost wishing for winter again.

Relax! Sit down with that cool beverage and declare that this is going to be the summer of your dreams. Decide with the family what it is they really want. If you have several children, maybe they can each pick one activity or sport to attend. If camp is a mainstay, limit the other scheduled activities so the kids can have some time to just play during summer vacation. Pick the priorities and pencil those in first.

Now choose some secondary family activities. Will you take a long vacation, or do several long weekends work better for your schedule? Do you plan on having a garage sale? How about camping or visiting a lake cabin? Does your family look forward to the state fair? What if they can't wait until the circus comes to town?

Another fun event could be organizing a block party to get to know your neighbors better. This takes a little planning and some calls to the city to block off the ends of your street, but it is well worth it with the good feelings and friendships that can blossom.

Kids of all ages, including adults, can really get a kick out of garage sale shopping. Sales abound on virtually every day of summer vacation. You never know what treasures you'll unearth. It is best to set a budget so you don't go overboard. You can really get addicted to bargain hunting!

Walking or biking is a great family activity that doesn't cost a thing. Plan some special days, or pack a picnic and pick the perfect spot at a neighborhood park. You will appreciate the time spent together and the exercise is good for everyone.

Camp out under the stars with all the comforts of home. Even if you're not an outdoorsy type of family, setting up a tent or just throwing down some sleeping bags in your backyard is the perfect camping experience. You're only steps away from the house, yet you still get to gaze at the gorgeous night sky and tell ghost stories.

Does anyone have a summer birthday? Combine a vacation with a special celebration for a birthday party no one will forget. You could book a nearby hotel room for a luxurious get away without all the travel expenses. Another idea is to take your party to an amusement or water park for some fun for everyone.

Maybe you feel it is better to just chill, and do things on the spur of the moment. The drawback to this approach is that you're often left scrambling, and may pay much more for last minute tickets and accommodations.

When you map out a plan for your summer, you can fill it with the things you really enjoy doing together. A calendar keeps everyone on track and creates a sense of stability that can be lacking if there is no routine at all.

It doesn't matter what you do, whether you're on the go every day or just once a month. The key is to make your plan fit your family and to treasure each fleeting day. When school starts again in the fall, your child will proudly say, "This was the best summer ever."


Shaunna Privratsky is an expert in personal finance. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Please sign up for the free newsletters at The Discount Diva. You can also visit Shaunna on Google+.

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