Spring break is almost upon us, even if it doesn’t quite feel like spring here in the gray and gloomy northeast.
Although a week in the sun on a beach somewhere would be just what the doctor ordered–a big trip just isn’t in the budget for spring break this year. With the price of everything-gas, groceries, heat, clothes-on the rises many families are going to have to get a little creative this year for Spring Break.
Creativity is where we frugalites soar-so of course I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve for a great spring break on a budget.
7 Budget Ideas for Spring Break
1. Do nothing.
These days you read more an more about the problem of over-scheduled kids. Kids run from subject to subject in school, then to after school sports and activities. . . then home just in time to bolt down some dinner get some homework done and then hit the hay. A week of totally unscheduled, unplanned time where your kids can sleep late, play creatively, spend some time reading, hanging out and generally relax may be just what the doctor ordered.
2. Play Tourist
During school breaks and the summers in Maine my mom would load all FIVE of us kids in the car and we’d play tourist. We’d go to all the tourist hot spots, you know, the ones that folks come from out of state to visit but locals never actually think to bring their kids to.
We’d go to Bar Harbor & Acadia National Park, head to Camden to see Andre the seal (he was still alive then), local fairs and festivals that were occurring, that sort of thing.
Here in Upstate NY I could head to Cooperstown to see the baseball hall of fame or the living history farm. In the other direction I can find Ithaca with all sorts of touristy goodness. Sure, gas prices are a consideration. But if you keep the meals out to a minimum and packing a lunch and snacks these trips can be inexpensive or even free.
Not sure what sort of touristy goodness there is in your area? For shame! Just contact your local chamber of commerce, search online, or stop at one of those “tourist centers” on the highway near you and pick up all the shiny little fliers.
3. Hit the Museums
Every metro area has museums, typically at least an art museum & a science museum. But most places have lots of small museums scattered about.
Within a 30 minute drive of our house (and we live in a tiny village in the sticks) there is a model train museum (open only 1 day a week) an antique car museum & a small art museum. If you extend that to an hour radius you get a 3 additional art museums, 2 science museums and a plethora of smaller, more specific museums (Ithaca, Syracuse & Scranton are all within an hour).
Call ahead (or search the internet) to see if the museums run any “free” days. If not check into museum member ship costs (if you go frequently enough it can be a bargain) or reciprocal museum memberships (ie you can use another membership there as well)
4. Road Trip to Family
Some of us are lucky enough to live within a day drive of family. If you do, consider planning a trip. Go to grandmas and do all the same local tourist and museum stuff there-it will be totally new and different! We are lucky to have one Nana right down the street-a sleepover at her house is still considered a great treat.
The other Nana lives 4 hours away on Long Island-and a trip there means the opportunity to head into the city and see all KINDS of fabulous things. Pick and choose carefully and this can be a very frugal visit.
5. Look for Local Programs
Many libraries run special programs during school breaks for the younger school age kids. Stop by yours and see what’s up! If your paper has an “events” section keep your eye out for low cost or free classes that may be offered during your break, free or low cost camps (vacation Bible schools, theater programs etc), and special fairs or festivals that might occur during the time frame of your break.
Why not help others while keeping the kids occupied? I’m sure there are tons of opportunities to volunteer in your local area-ask around and see what you find. You could visit a nursing home, help with a habitat house, or serve food at the soup kitchen. Older kids could even take the week and head out on a missionary or volunteering trip.
7. Get Outside
Spring break still has the possibility of being pretty cold here in Upstate NY, but that isn’t the case in much of the country. Consider using your spring break for some outside bonding time with the family. Go hiking or biking at the closest state park, have a picnic, or find your local nature center and see what types of outdoor activities they have going on. Again, many of these events are inexpensive or free.
What great frugal spring break ideas do you have? I’d love to hear your frugal plans for this year or frugal experiences from years past.