Your summer break from school should be all about catching up on the fun times you’ve missed while classes were in full swing. You don’t have to stress about how to manage all that summer has to offer just because you’re on a college student budget! Here are some fun ways to keep yourself and your best buds occupied without breaking your bank.
Be a tourist in your own state
When you don’t have a ton of cash but want to make the most of your vacation, why not have a staycation in your own city or state? You’ll save a lot by not having to purchase plane tickets, and you can pack a few meals in your cooler to avoid the late-night stops at greasy diners. Essential road trip (or train travel) items to bring:
- Water bottles
- Deli meat and cheese: Depending on length of trip, consider getting just a ¼ or ½ pound of each from your deli so it won’t go to waste.
- Small packets of any condiments
- Pita pockets: I prefer these over sandwich bread because they holds up better in a cooler.
- Mini bags of pretzels or chips so everyone can choose their favorite
- Napkins and paper plates: Pack these in case you’d like to swing into a rest stop and have a picnic at the tables.
- Fruit and veggies: Being on the road doesn’t have to mean eating unhealthily.
Places to check into
Museums are an obvious choice, but consider museums that you’ve never thought to visit before. How about the National Arab-American Museum in Dearborn, Michigan or the Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota? Yahoo! Travel suggests giving the Giant Shoe Museum in Seattle, Washington a try in their April 5, 2012, post titled “America’s wackiest museums.” Other wacky museums you may not have considered:
- Matchstick Marvels Tourist Center in Gladbrook, Iowa
- The Plumbing Museum in Watertown, Massachusetts
- Kansas Barbed Wire Museum in La Crosse, Kansas
As soon as the weather gets warmer, I start checking into area festivals. You don’t have to travel to a huge three or four-day weekend getaway to enjoy live music and good food; there are plenty of one-day events around the country that can be enjoyed on a college student budget. The best part is you can pack a cooler to keep in your car for when you’re ready for a snack and a break.
Summer festivals are also a great place to have a drink in the sun and enjoy that local band for free. Just don’t forget the sunscreen and water or you’ll be regretting it after a few hours!
State parks have a little bit of everything
If you’re lucky enough to live by any state parks, you know how much they offer! From hiking, to swimming, grilling, boating and special events — making an entire day trip out of it is worth the vehicle entrance fee that some require. Don’t forget about them when you’re trying to make plans for a day trip. America’s State Parks offers a guide to checking out what your state has to offer.
Have a smartphone? Click on the “Park Mobile Apps” tab to find what apps are available for the state park in your area.
More options for fun on a budget!
If you’re creative enough, there can be lots to do in the warmer months while sticking to a budget:
- Have friends over for a cookout: Ask guests to bring a dish to share.
- Start a summer reading book club: Meet at a park on days that aren’t scorching and bring lemonade or cookies to share. This is a great way to keep in touch with your friends on a weekly basis — plus, reading a little bit over break isn’t a bad idea!
- Strap on those rollerblades or jump on your bike: Getting exercise is much more fun when you’re doing something fun. Heading out around your hood for at least 30 minutes a day is all it takes — plus, you can reward yourself with an ice cream afterwards!
Now that you’ve got some affordable ideas on how to have fun this summer, get off your computer and go enjoy your summer break!