Summer Vacations on a Budget + Ideas for Families & Couples!

The word “vacation” comes from both French and Latin and means “exemption from service and respite from work” and “to be empty, be free, and to have leisure.” 

That sounds pretty good to me! 🏝️

Now that it’s summer and the weather is ripe for exploring and soaking up some delicious vitamin D, it’s time to think about taking a little time off. The benefits of getting away from the daily grind will clear any mental clutter, allow your nervous system to settle, and activate your brain’s curiosity. 

Removing yourself from your daily routine can open up incredible possibilities in all areas of your life. You have space to rethink your habits, reset your beliefs, and dream bigger dreams at a much deeper level. Having time away is pretty much a mental miracle!  

So let’s talk about a few more benefits of taking a summer vacation and then I’ll give you a few ideas that are budget-friendly for families and couples. If you're single, please don’t feel left out! Take the ideas and create your own solo vacation or trip. The world is waiting for you! 🌎

What are the benefits of going on vacation? 

πŸ“² Gives your brain a serious break! No screen time allowed!  

😍 Provides time to rest, reflect, and reset. 

🀯 Allows you to formulate new ideas and unlock your creativity.

πŸ‘ͺ Time to connect with your children, spouse, and yourself.

πŸ”οΈ Allows you to see something new and explore a different environment.

🧠 You’ll build memories and form new neural connections which activate your brain in a different way. 

Let’s take a deeper look at three of these, exploring why they can be so beneficial. 

Ditch the screen time

All this screen time is changing your brain. 🀯

Studies have clearly shown the negative impact of our collective technology addiction: we have less patience, a slight dopamine dependency, and shorter attention spans. A study by Microsoft Canada determined that since the year 2000, people’s attention spans have dropped from 12 seconds to just 8 seconds, due to our addiction to technology. 😡‍πŸ’«

When you go on vacation, try to genuinely unplug. If you have to check in, give yourself a firm start/stop time as boundaries. Then, turn that phone off for the rest of the day, or be courageous and shut it off for the rest of your trip! Give your brain a chance to reset and rest from all that stimuli. 

And don’t be surprised if you get a huge hit of inspiration while you're enjoying the time off. Putting your phone down invites your imagination to come to life! πŸ’‘

New travel experiences form new neural connections/networks

When you travel or go on vacation, your brain is forming millions of new neural connections and networks, because of the new experiences and different types of stimuli. This is why you may feel more free when you visit a new place. Your brain has no framework for this new place yet, so your normal judgment is pushed to the side as your brain shifts into inquiry mode. πŸ˜ƒ

Without you even realizing it, your brain is taking in aaaaaalll the novel sights, sounds, and experiences you are enjoying, cataloging them for future reference. These memories are locked in the brain forever and will provide a different context or lens to view your life through. Hopefully, you’ll have found value in taking time off – and will want to do it again very soon!  

Nurture your relationships and reconnect

All of us get into relationship routines — the same hello’s, goodbye’s, and daily interactions. When you take a trip outside your normal routine, it allows you to connect differently with the people that are important to you. You may feel more inclined to sit a little longer, have a deeper conversation, and even open up a little more when you don’t have 50 million things to get done! πŸ“

Choose activities you wouldn’t normally do at home to allow for new conversations and to make new memories. Doing a puzzle, playing a board game, or reading a book together are great ways to bond and reconnect. 

And please, take time to connect with yourself as well. Plan for a long walk alone or spend 20 minutes journaling. Loving yourself is just as important as connecting with others. Remember, you should always secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others. Fill your own cup first! πŸ’œ

Now it’s time to get to the nitty gritty – how to plan a super fun (and economical) vacay!

Creative Vacation Ideas for Families (on a Budget)

Here are a few creative vacation ideas that your entire family can get excited about!

Explore your town or region

You don’t have to go far to have a great time. πŸŽ‰

No matter where you live, your routines probably keep you in the same parts of town, at the same stores, doing the same tasks, etc. 

Why not cultivate a new experience right in your own backyard? Choose a part of town (or region) you haven’t seen or visited and make a day or weekend of it! Plan it like you would a faraway vacation. Look up the restaurants you want to try and make reservations, pick an activity you wouldn’t normally do, and be a tourist for the day by shopping at the local shops and markets. πŸ›οΈ

If you live in a small town, explore the region around it. Drive 50 miles in a direction you’ve never gone and see where it leads you. Become curious and you’re sure to find an adventure! 

Visit a national park

There are 63 national parks in the United States. Cool! 🌳

National Parks are easy on the wallet, with reasonable fees for parking, docking, and camping. They are also great for children, with some offering programs and recreation for kids. And they’re pet friendly so you can bring your dogs along, too! 

Find the one closest to you and make a plan when you’re ready to hit the road for your new adventure. If you’re not the camping type, you can always stay at a nearby hotel for a few nights – whatever suits your fancy.

And while you’re in the park, be sure to take your shoes off and walk barefoot (also known as ‘earthing’) as often as you can. Allowing your body to actually connect with the earth, not concrete or pavement, is incredibly healing. πŸ‘£

Not only does earthing reduce stress, but it also improves heart coherence, boosts your immune system, and brings balance to the rogue electrons in your body leading to a better, healthier version of you! When you connect with nature, your body responds immediately. πŸ«€

Click here for a list of all the National parks just in case you want to explore a little further! 🌸

Choose a themed vacation 

History buff? Science nerd? Bookworm? Creative type? 🎨

Maybe your family loves to bond over a certain subject, activity, or lifestyle. Take that and run with it! Create a vacation based on a theme to build even deeper relationships and create wonderful memories while learning more about a subject you all love. 

If your family loves history, create a vacation around museums, historical sites, and guided tours. Most museums are free or have a low entrance fee and you can stay as long as you like. Many also offer tours or guides so you and your kids can get the most out of the experience. πŸ”

Visiting historical sites is like having history come alive. Immerse your kids on a historical journey they’ll never forget! 

The same goes for science, art, book, and movie lovers! There are free and low-cost resources for all these interests, especially for kids. Call the local community centers where you’ll be traveling and ask about their programs and offerings. Call the libraries and ask about book reading days and classes for children. Find a family-friendly science museum and take advantage of their free shows and demonstrations! πŸ§ͺ

Creative Vacation Ideas for Couples (on a Budget!)

Do a house swap

Save money on a hotel by doing a house swap! 🏑

Maybe you have friends who live in a place you’ve always wanted to visit and vice versa. Invite them to do a house swap with you! 

Now, you can explore a new place knowing you have a safe and comfortable place to stay. House swaps can provide a more personal experience than staying at a hotel. You’ll have all the comforts of home without needing to call the front desk. 

And, you can feel confident that your home is being cared for by people you trust. If you have pets (and you’ve discussed this beforehand), you may have a built-in pet sitter, too! Score! 🐢

Doing a house swap will save you money on lodging, parking fees, city and state taxes, and restaurant bills/tipping. 

Stay at a romantic bed & breakfast

The great thing about B&Bs is the breakfast! πŸ₯ž

B&Bs have been around for a long time, with the first ones showing up in 18th-century colonial America due to a lack of hotels and other types of lodging. The term “Bed and Breakfast” most likely originated in the UK after WWII. During this time, many people from overseas needed a place to stay and locals would rent out a room in their house and offer breakfast. B&Bs were a great way for poor or working-class people to earn extra money. 

Today, B&Bs offer originality, comfort, and charm. 🧳

Find a romantic B&B for you and your honey in a location you’ve been wanting to explore. To be clear, I’m not referring to Airbnb or VRBO. I’m talking about staying at a traditional bed and breakfast spot in a beautiful house with a hot cooked breakfast in the morning. 

A cozy B&B satisfies the feeling of a small hotel without all the busyness, noise, and confusion. Another perk is having hosts who create a welcoming and warm environment for their guests. πŸ™

Enjoy a staycation

That cool-looking hotel downtown? That relaxing-looking spa on the corner? That new restaurant you’ve been dying to try, but it’s 30 minutes from your house? 

Now you have permission to visit them all, because I’m granting you a staycation! 😎

Become a visitor in your own city or town and notice all the things you’ve been missing out on while going through the daily motions of life. This is your chance to explore and try out all the things you haven’t had time or energy for because you’ve been busy. But now you can because you’re on vacation! 

Treat your city like you’re in a brand-new place and you’ll be amazed at what you discover. Don’t be surprised if you find that returning to your normal routine after you’ve seen your city with a fresh perspective is a little boring! 🫣

What vacation ideas will you incorporate into your next trip? 

I hope this inspires you to plan a quick vacation – whether it’s a long weekend, a week, or even longer. Getting out of your normal routine can do wonders for your brain, body, and mental well-being. 

Vacations can be whatever you want them to be. Be creative, explore, dream, and do something you’ve never done before! Don’t get caught up in the idea that a fancy hotel is the only way to have a vacation. It’s just as much about who you’re spending time with and the places you are experiencing together. 

One last thing — remember to be safe and aware when you are in a new area. Keep all cash and valuables in zippered bags close to your body. If you get lost or take the wrong route, step into a public building to look at your map (thieves can spot tourists a mile away when they publicly refer to maps). And don’t forget to have a buddy system for your kids. πŸ§’

Happy travels! 🧳



15 Cheap Vacation Ideas for The Whole Family | Ramsey Solutions | July 12, 2022:

National Park Service:

Word History of “Vacation” | Merriam-Webster:,be%20empty%2C%20be%20free%2C%20have

The Evolution of Bed and Breakfast Services | 1837 Bed & Breakfast | August 26, 2020:,there%20were%20very%20few%20available

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