Summer is an exciting time when you want to do your best to enjoy every day. And yet summers can be stressful as well.

I don’t know if it’s just us, but it seems like flights and hotels have tripled in price ever since Covid.

Whether the industry is trying to recover from months of travel bans, or more people have realized they haven’t traveled enough, every hotel we used to stay at before Covid is much more expensive these days.

The economic downfall isn’t making things easier. Prices are climbing across the board, whereas income has remained the same (or, in our case, has become lower).

And yet, kids are home for at least two months, and parents have to find ways to make summer enjoyable and memorable no matter what.

Here is how we are planning to make this summer work for us regardless of all the difficulties our family is facing:

1. Travel Local

With airfare pricing getting enormous during the summertime when families across the world plan their trips for short two months, flying has become a firm no for us. So I started looking for places we can reach by car.

There must be absolutely breathtaking sights in your state. You were just too busy looking elsewhere previously. I was able to find some cool places in Upstate New York by:

  • Joining local hiking groups on Facebook: Simply search Facebook for your state or town, and you will discover quite a few of those! I have about 5 groups on my list, and I make sure I have set them to send me notifications of daily highlights.
  • Checking filming locations nearby: The Internet Movie Database has helped me find some cool locations nearby. Here’s an example for Syracuse, New York! Watch the movie first, and then do a quick road trip to see it with your own eyes!
  • Following local bloggers, Instagram accounts, Youtubers, and TikTokers. We discovered some stunning waterfalls to swim in using that trick! And one of them was just 30 minutes from us!
Video: Absolutely Gorgeous Upstate New York Waterfalls You Can Swim In

To make road trips more fun for us, we got some trivia to do in the car. It is also a nice educational trick for the kids:

Trivia makes roadtrips even more educational

If your kids are not into hiking, come up with fun ideas to excite them! Our trick is to cook something cool right on the trail!

2. Create a Trip Itinerary

Now that we have to budget much more carefully, we started planning the trips more thoroughly. Creating a trip itinerary takes just a few minutes if you use a template, and you can do that online using Google Docs. Just make sure to download it to your phone to make sure you have it in case you have no connection.

Keep your planner clutter-free and make some room for spontaneous decisions (This is always the most memorable part of any trip!). Here’s what I always put in my itinerary:

  • Dates
  • Hotels
  • Flights (company name, date, and time)
  • Budget for every day (and how we are planning to use it). This is the most important part: If we are running out of budget for the day, we cook food outside or in the hotel room and skip the dining out part.

We also got into a habit to download Google Maps of the area we travel to. Not only it allows us to access directions even if we don’t have a connection (e.g. in the mountains or a national park), but it also saves money on data (especially if you travel internationally!)

To download a Google Map (to be able to use it offline):

  • Open Google Maps app on your phone, 
  • Search for your destination
  • Scroll to the left to find “Download offline map”
  • Select a wider area to ensure you’ll have your map if you travel around your destination:
Download Google Maps to save!

3. Make the Most of Your Time Home

Finally, if you are unable to travel or hike, it doesn’t mean you cannot make some memories! Kids enjoy simple things: You’ll be surprised how much joy you can all enjoy by just staying home!

Here are a few fun activities we do at home:

  • Put up a tent in the backyard! We did this one for the 4th of July and we spent the night inside! We had all the fun campers do: A campfire, picnic, marshmallows, and more!
  • Arrange a mini garden outside Planting fruit trees and watching them grow is magical! And this activity will teach your kids a lot about taking care of plants.
  • Get into backyard bird photography. There are lots of birds outside in summer. My daughter takes photos and then does research on what that bird is called, where it migrates from, how it nests, etc. We also consider buying a bird feeder with a camera to watch birds feeding!
  • Cook something special together. One day we decided to have a sushi day. So we found the recipes, bought all the ingredients, decorated the dining room in a Japanese style, and found a Japanese movie. Home-made sushi is now my daughter’s favorite memory!
Home sushi day!

Hopefully, you will be able to make the most of this summer!

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