Try these 10 clever ways to make your summer vacation more affordable—without sacrificing fun.
Save on gas - take a one tank trip Instead of hopping in the car to drive all day, plan out a one-tank mini-trip. You'll still feel like you're getting away, and there are probably some awesome nearby attractions that you've been meaning to get to for ages -- now's the time!
Rent lodging from the owner Score a deal by seeking out by-owner rentals when you need overnight digs -- and be ready to negotiate. "With people not traveling as much this summer it's a great time to call up the owners of vacation condos or mom-and-pop type hotels to ask for a deal," says Ellie Kay, mother of seven and the author of A Mom's Guide to Family Finances. "You'll speak directly with the owner, and because they're used to being full at this time of the year, they're more likely to offer you a discount."
Save when you fly With surcharges on everything from food to luggage, flying isn't cheap these days. Here's how to save where you can:* Bring along your snacks for the flight rather than buying munchies last-minute at the airport or onboard. Ditto on activities and books for the kids -- be organized and bring along diversions (preferably ones they haven't seen for a while) from home.
* Both kids and adults are each allowed one personal item and one bag as carry-ons -- so take advantage and bring on the full number that your group is allowed. You may be able to avoid checking luggage altogether.
* Maximize what you carry on (and avoid having to pay to check) by packing efficiently. "Remember there are laundry facilities everywhere you go," says Emily Kaufman, aka The Travel Mom, and author of The Travel Mom's Ultimate Book of Family Travel. "From camping to cruise ships, you be able to find a place to do laundry on the road if you need to."
Eat on the cheap You gotta eat, but going to a restaurant for every single meal adds up fast. Here's how to save:
* Book a studio (a room with a kitchen) so you can pick up some basic groceries and prepare simple meals and snacks in your own digs.
* There's no need to have a sit-down meal, every meal. While you're out and about, look for a deli or supermarket where you can grab some sandwiches and take them with you to a park for a picnic.
* When you do eat out, know how to make it cheap. "I've paid $25 for a $50 gift certificate to a steakhouse that I found at restaurant.com," says Kay.
* Look for Kids Eat Free programs -- something many restaurants and hotels offer on particular days of the week.
Have fun at home Plan a staycation -- a vacation where you stay at home and line up fun activities around the house or in your community. "'Vacation' to a 6-year-old doesn't really mean anything yet," says Annette Economides, mother of five and co-author of America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money. "They'll have just as much fun spending time with you doing things like going for hikes, visiting museums, and taking day trips as they would traveling."
Go backyard camping Once you add up the cost of gear, supplies, and the extra gas it takes to get your overloaded car to a faraway campsite, the outing can become pricey. Instead, have a backyard campout. Kids can help scope out the "campsite" and pitch the tent. You can cook your meals on the grill (don't forget s'mores), eat alfresco, tell spooky stories by flashlight, and sleep outside in the tent. Bonus: Home (with your bathroom and well-stocked medicine cabinet) is right there for potty breaks and bug bites.
Theme parks: Go local A trip to a theme park doesn't have to include long car rides, flights, and hotels -- chances are your kids (especially younger ones) will be just as thrilled with a great local park. Hit up your park's Web site before you go. Many offer discounts on tickets purchased online, have printable coupons for deals on food, and offer information about reduced fares for afternoon admission, season passes, and group ticket sales. Also check for modified hours of operation and safety mandates due to COVID-19.
Host or be hosted Host: Instead of spending your precious vacation days on planes or in the car en route to visit friends and family, why not ask them come to you this year? Plan some fun ways to spend your free days at home or nearby -- even if you're doing things you've done a thousand times, it will feel new to share them with visiting grandparents, cousins, or other families with kids you don't get to see often.
Be Hosted: Have a friend or relative with a house in the mountains? The beach? Anywhere but here? Hitting up friends and family for visits rather than staying in a hotel can be a huge cost saver. So don't be shy about (respectfully) inquiring about a visit. Just remember not to overstay your welcome -- especially if your hosts have kid-chaos of their own.
Take a multi-family trip Make your vacay a multifamily trip and save bucks by going in on a house (with a full kitchen!) together. Lots of popular beach and mountain destinations have houses that can sleep multiple families and you'll be able to take turns watching the kids at the beach or on hiking trails. Also switch off making meals -- you'll all save money by not eating out and you'll get a mini-break from cooking.
Take note: these trips do require a little extra planning in order for everything to run smoothly. "Work out what everybody's rules and expectations for the trip will be before you go," says Kaufman. "If you decide how you'll divide up food costs, take turns watching the kids, and all of the other details before you travel, nobody will be disappointed or surprised on the trip."
Give the kids a budget Prevent post-vacation credit card bill shock (and teach your kids a thing or two about budgeting) by thinking about how much each day will cost in advance -- and then giving your kids (over age 7) a reasonable amount of cash as their daily spending money. Let them know they can keep anything that's left over so they'll think about whether or not they really need both the cotton candy and the jumbo lollipop -- or if they can make do with one or the other and pocket the rest. Be clear and stick to you guns -- if the money runs out, that's it. No bailing out your spendthrift kid.
Summer is under way! Keep your little ones occupied with these free (and almost-free) activities to do inside and outside of the house.
Backyard Obstacle Course Construct a backyard obstacle course with hula hoops, jump ropes, sticks, stones, hoses, and other materials from around the house. Your kids can take turns completing it—and the person with the fastest time wins a prize!
Camp in the Yard No campground? No problem! Hitch a tent in the backyard and spend the night underneath the stars. This free summer activity has one major benefit over normal camping: There’s a working toilet merely feet away!
Plan a Bike Parade Encourage your kids to decorate their rides with streamers, stickers, flags, and more—then let them cruise around the neighborhood to show off their creation.
Make a Bird Feeder Invite summertime birds to your yard with a DIY bird feeder. To make it, simply coat sticks with peanut butter and roll them in birdseed. It’s the perfect opportunity to teach kids about nature and animals.
DIY Chalk Bombs Kids will have a blast with this idea from mom Lorie King Kaehler, author of Chalk on the Wild Side. Use a clean soap-dispenser pump to fill water balloons with a washable chalk-paint mixture (1 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, and a few drops of food coloring). Have your child draw targets on the ground with chalk or just let him go wild. Fire away!
Learn Cooking Skills This fun summer activity for kids also has a practical purpose: Teaching little ones to cook. Choose a favorite food—such as grilled cheese or cookies—and make it with your child. She’ll feel proud while eating the finished product.
Organize an at Home Picnic You can host a picnic lunch without leaving your property! Choose a mealtime destination, whether it’s a patio table or blanket in the backyard. Prepare picnic staples like sandwiches, load them into a basket, and enjoy dining al fresco.
Paint Outside When painting outside, there’s no need to worry about making a mess. Just use washable paint and the medium of your choice, whether it's construction paper, cardboard, or blocks. You can also create outdoor artwork with sidewalk chalk.
Go Fishing Fishing is a classic free summer activity for kids. Brush up on the basics at takemefishing.org, teach the proper techniques to your young angler, and find a place to cast off. Make sure you check local laws about fishing; you may need a license.
Play Games Outside Designate one evening per week to some friendly family competition (think kickball, softball, and capture the flag). Keep everything fair by dividing into new teams for each round.
The Cahoon Museum of American Art is happy to announce that they'll reopen on August 1. They've missed you and can’t wait to reopen their doors again to welcome you back! There's nothing like the experience of immersing yourself in art, and their current exhibitions will refresh and engage you.
During the past months, they've created new online content for you to enjoy, including highlights from their collection and a drive-by exhibition, Alfred Glover: Garden Grove. But there's no substitute for a personal, first-hand experience in the Museum’s unique galleries.
As they reopen, the Museum has adopted new protocols to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit for you, including:
To celebrate the Cahoon’s reopening, admission will be free for the month of August sponsored by the Highland Street Foundation.
Click here for full information on visitor guidelines and to make a reservation.
Cotuit Library has passes to the Cahoon, so be sure to request them by calling the Library at 508-428-8141 if you plan to visit this beautiful Cape museum!
After 116 days of closure, CCMoA's main Exhibition Galleries are finally scheduled to reopen with all new exhibitions! As a thank you to our loyal and supportive Members, we will be open for Museum Members Only, this Thursday, July 9 & Friday, July 10. We will reopen to the public beginning on Saturday, July 11 with limited occupancy. The CCMoA has taken many precautions to help ensure the safety of our patrons, staff and volunteers, following the guidance provided from www.Mass.gov for Reopening Massachusetts.
Journey: A Mayflower 400 Project July 9 – September 13, 2020Printmakers of Cape Cod (USA) and the Tamar Valley Printmakers (UK) will present a new body of artistic work, titled “Journey,” to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s historic journey to North America. This new body of original prints, created by twenty 20 artists from the USA and 20 from the UK, will be exhibited in both countries during 2020. You can see the exhibition at the Cape Cod Museum of Art (ccmoa.org) from July 9 - September 13, 2020.
Insight into INTERIORS July 9 - August 2 After months of time at home, come see an exhibition curated by the Docents of the CCMoA. The Docents have selecting pieces from the Permanent Collection on the INTERIORS theme.
Events: Cape Cod Museum of Art’s Re-imagined Gala Auction Event in the Age of Covid-19 Online Auction Will Run from July 20 – August 15, 2020 With a “Live” Online Auction Starting at 7 pm on August 15 Absentee Bidding Available for Both Live & Timed Auctions
The Cape Cod Museum of Art is excited to present fabulous works of art and memorable experiences in a fresh approach to our summer fundraising auction for 2020. “Our enthusiasm could not be greater; it will be so much fun to explore and bid on the wonderful art we've acquired for this event by so many well-respected artists, as well as the many ‘experience’ items that are being offered,” says Kenneth Hawkey, CCMoA Trustee and Auction Committee Chair. “We are especially delighted to be offering the thrill of bidding through an on-line auction platform with an international audience this year, expanding our reach and name recognition around the world.”
DRIVE-IN MOVIES ON THE CAMPUS OF THE CAPE COD CENTER FOR THE ARTS
The large central parking lot on the campus will be transformed into a nostalgic pop-up drive-in movie theater every Wednesday night starting July 15 through August – featuring family favorite films. Picnic boxes from local restaurants and beverages from the Playhouse concession will be available for purchase. Modest charges will be applied per person for each movie and the proceeds will be shared among the three campus organizations. The Parking lot will open at 7:30pm and all movies begin at 8:45pm.
Our Creative Outlets program has moved to ZOOM!
July 12 Find Your Essence Through Collage with Jennifer Stratton (Artist) and Poppy Kennedy (Calmer Choice Instructor)
The word collage comes from the French word coller which means to glue or stick together--basically assembling different materials together to make something new. Through some guided prompts we discover different parts of ourselves. Use old magazines, cards, photos, and anything else with pictures and words to create a collage that speaks from the inner you. You will need sturdy paper for your base, modpodge or glue, foam brushes, and lots of magazines, cards, photos, and other paper scrap
Register the young adult in your home for a ZOOM workshop. NO EXPERIENCE NEEDED! Just enjoy!
21 native birds and bugs, crafted from 44,774 plastic “bricks,” have arrived at Heritage just in time for summer. Head over to the gardens to learn more about these fascinating native creatures that depend on the plants you love at Heritage, at the Bugs, Birds and Bricks outdoor sculpture exhibit created by international brick artist Cody Wells. This family-friendly outdoor exhibit is for all to enjoy, complete with exciting interpretation that connects these bugs and birds to their native habitats. Make sure to explore the exhibit next time you go. Learn more about Bugs, Birds and Bricks and its creator, Cody Wells, here.
Brick Artist Cody Wells has specially created some amazing one-of-a-kind pieces and they're not to be missed. The Bugs, Birds, & Bricks exhibit has arrived at Heritage. Placed around the grounds you'll find larger than life versions of creatures commonly found at Heritage. When you enter, be sure to keep your eyes on the mosaic as you pass by. It's got a great surprise in store. You'll be transfixed by the level of detail involved. Kids of every age will enjoy this impressive art installation. Be sure to check it out!
To obtain a library museum pass for a discounted admission to Heritage Museums & Gardens call the Cotuit Library at (508)-428-8141 or email us at email@example.com
The 4th of July is often an exciting day of summer that involves friends and family coming together for delicious food, fun outdoor activities and to celebrate America's independence. But this year, due to COVID-19 and social distancing, your 4th of July probably won't look like it has in years past. But that's no reason to cancel your celebration; there are still plenty of fun 4th of July activities that you can do and still safely practice social distancing. If you want to stay at home, you can plan something as inexpensive as firing up the grill and baking patriotic desserts; or you can go all-out and plan a big barbecue for your quarantine pod. If you'd rather enjoy the warm summer weather and your day off work, you can get out of town and see something new or even explore your hometown with the lens of a tourist. Whether you want something relaxed or adventurous, this list will give you plenty of ideas for some fun 4th of July activities.
Make homemade popsicles. The 4th of July is typically a very hot holiday, so cool off by creating homemade popsicles. Try these yogurt swirl pops, or one of these other favorite popsicle recipes.
Create a waterpark at home. Between sprinklers and a fun hose extension, you can create a waterpark in your own backyard. The kids will be entertained for hours (and cooled off) by playing fun water games.
Read a book about American history. If you've got a little one who doesn't quite know what the 4th of July is about, use the holiday as a chance to teach them more about American history. There are so many great kids' books about history and historical figures, like I Am Rosa Parks by Brad Meltzer and Two Friends by Dean Robbins.
Have a hot dog eating contest. If there's one food that represents the 4th of July, it's hot dogs. If you're feeling adventurous, recreate Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Competition, or if you want something a little more tame (and easier to stomach) try a hot dog taste test where you can try out various relishes and mustards.
Rehearse and perform famous American speeches. Think of this as an Independence-Day-themed talent show. Parents and kids alike can learn and perform famous speeches by great Americans such as the "I Have a Dream" speech by Martin Luther King or Abe Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address."
Pack a picnic. Take all of those adorable red, white, and blue recipes you made and celebrate with a picnic in the park.
Go for a bike ride. Get active on your day off and go for a bike ride before all the eating and partying begins.
Celebrate on the beach. If you're lucky enough to live within driving distance of a beach, pack up for a fun day in the sun. If you stay until the evening, expect to see fireworks. Just check with the local authorities first, to make sure the beach is open.
Head to the ballpark. Sure, professional baseball might still be cancelled due to coronavirus, but that doesn't mean you and your family can't partake in the all-American sport. Take your family out to the neighborhood park for some friendly competition.
Make a festive craft. Plan a holiday-themed DIY project with the kids to deck out your home in red, white, and blue, like one of these cute wreath projects.
You might not feel comfortable enough to make it out this year to watch fireworks in person. Watch them from the comfort of your home instead! These are the celebrations that will be televised and made available online so you can enjoy the 4th of July fireworks from a safe social distance.
Watch Walt Disney World Fireworks:
Magic Kingdom Park – "Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky” will offer booming fireworks orchestrated to patriotic melodies at Magic Kingdom Park on both July 3 and July 4 at 9:15 p.m. Fans who are not able to join in the Independence Day celebration at the park can view a special July 4 live stream of the dazzling fireworks display right her on the Disney Parks Blog.
Macy's 4th of July Fireworks:
The Macy's 4th of July fireworks will be televised on NBC so that people outside the city can can also see the fireworks. Usually it airs from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET. For those who don't have a television or cable subscription, NBC can be streamed online as long as you can input someone's cable information. You can also try a free trial of YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, or Fubo TV to stream NBC online for July 4.
Watch the D.C. Fireworks on PBS: There's no livestream option for PBS, but people with TVs that include the public broadcasting channel will be able to watch A Capitol Fourth on July 4, 2020. It's a patriotic, star-studded concert event that also features the fireworks that go off above the National Mall in Washington D.C. It's possible that because of the pandemic, these fireworks will not happen in 2020. However, PBS will likely still stream them for D.C. residents who can't attend in person and people around the nation who just want to watch.
Watch Local Fireworks on TV: Check your local listings as July 4 draws closer, because many cities have opted to close fireworks to crowds but televise them for would-be audiences.
This 4th of July may look a little different than those in years' past. But there's no reason to miss out on epic fireworks displays when you can access televised and streamed celebrations with the touch of a button.
Need a fun mental break? Here's six digital jigsaw puzzles from Smithsonian Libraries created through Jigsaw Explorer that feature a few favorite images from their collection. Use the links to explore the art work and play each individual puzzle. Each puzzle is set to contain about 100 pieces, but they are customizable for any skill set. Hit the question mark icon on a puzzle for more information. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did!