Have a Fun Summer On A Tight Budget

Tight home budgets and busy work schedules can put a damper on our hopes for an exciting summer. Don’t wallow too long in your despair, people. Give the “no-fun” summer attitude the boot today, because your awesome summer awaits you – and it’s in your control to enjoy no matter what challenges you are facing! Here are eight simple tips on how to plan for, and create, a summer “staycation” for yourself and those you are closest to.

1. Do some research first!

Many of us are not as knowledgeable about the fun opportunities that exist in our own communities as we think we are, so, now is the time to do some research. These days research can easily be done online. Most communities are very good at ensuring there is a lot of information available online for people who are interested in keeping themselves busy. Tourism dollars are very attractive to local merchants and most likely there will be little shortage of information for you to begin deciding on the low-cost, fun options that exist in your community or region. Another great way to grow your community awareness is to head over to your local tourism or recreation centres. If a tourism centre doesn’t exist an alternative research idea would be to head over to local hotels or motel lobbies and check out their brochure kiosks. Take a few local attraction brochures home that grab your attention, especially the ones that seem like something you wouldn’t normally pay attention to. Ask someone behind a desk what they recommend to tourists who have one day to spend in your city or town. And then be sure and call and ask if there’s a discount for locals or residents; you’d be surprised how many venders have a local resident discount at certain times of the year. 

2. Get friends or family members to show you around like you’re a tourist!

Call up a friend you know who usually loves showing visitors around town and make a date with them to take you to some of their favourite places! Keep an open mind because they may take you to a place you have never thought about visiting. While you are at it, reciprocate the effort by planning a few dates for your friend as well. Sharing company and places with people close to you can be very rewarding – and seeing your community or region from their eyes often opens you up to experiencing something that you never would have.

3. Move through your community differently than you usually do!

Take a guided tour on a bus or by boat or some other form of transportation. You’ll see your city with fresh eyes when learning about interesting points and fun historical facts. 

4. Take cheesy photos of yourself and your family/friends in front of tourist spots.

That well-known statue in your town square. A view from the park downtown. The famous graffiti. Your city’s welcoming sign. Even if you’ve already seen a lot of your city’s tourist spots, embrace the cheesiness of visiting them again by taking photos of yourself and family and friends in front of them. Develop a scavenger hunt – and set out to enjoy your community options in a fun way. 

5. Grab a meal at the most touristy restaurant in your town!

Check out some restaurants you wouldn’t normally frequent and have the dish they swear they’re the best at making. Revel in its tasty (or greasy) glory. Take a look around when you’re at the restaurants as many of them actually have cool histories, with old photos decorating the walls and stories about your town waiting to be discovered.

6. Do something outdoors that only your community can offer.

Is your neck of the woods known for fly fishing? Do it. Is your city the home to the world’s largest urban bat colony? See it. Tons of farms open their “doors” during particularly lovely parts of the seasons – take advantage! Is there a public fountain or water feature that you can take the kids to? Have fun! Chances are there’s something outdoorsy your city does well and promotes to tourists; discover it.

7. Cheer on a local sports team!

You can go to a game, or even find a popular sports bar to watch a game on a TV, surrounded by passionate locals and tourists alike. Gathering together with people of the same team spirit brings out a joy in people – even people who don’t know one another! 

8. Embrace a bit of history.

Depending on the size of your town or city, there might be a museum that illustrates an exciting part of your hometown’s history that might be worth checking out. Think about stopping and reading any roadside markers with interesting historical facts. And check to see if your city has any historical collections at local libraries — sometimes you can find a whole collection of cool photos showing what your city looked like years ago.

Don’t let time or the lack of money or the price of gas stop you from having a most awesome summer, people! Often the cost of driving, flying, hotels and meals out are the significant drain on your budgets and time. Embrace the idea of celebrating your own community and region and partake in the offerings that exist locally – happy summering!

Tom Watson

Your Better Life

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