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Depending on what part of the country you're in, summer vacation is either already here or just around the corner, and that means it's time to start planning family fun. Instead of trying to fill every weekend with a special outing, consider focusing your energy (and your money) on one or two bigger summer adventures. Here are some ideas for inspiration:
A day at the water park
From the lazy river to the wave pool, water parks are a great way to spend the day with the kids. Check your local water park website for hours and schedule of events.
What to Pack: Be sure to bring a set of clothes to change into -- no one wants to ride home in a wet bathing suit. Pack plenty of waterproof sunscreen and hats or visors for everybody. Don't forget your sunglasses for lounging poolside, and replacement lenses are also a great idea. Grab a beach towel for each kid and bring any water toys they may want to use. And though the park sells food, that bill can add up quickly. Instead of grabbing a meal there, pack a lunch and store it in one of the free lockers provided to guests. Just don’t forget the mini coolers and ice or ice packs.
Craving a bit of the outdoors? A camping trip will do the trick.
Juice Images / Cultura
Costs and Expenses: If camping has been a family hobby, chances are you already have most of the supplies you'll need. If this will be your first camping excursion, you'll need to purchase some essentials. Expect to spend a couple hundred dollars on these items. And check the campground's website for any fees. When the children and I went camping for the first I was quite surprised at how much everything costs. Plan in advance and, if you can, buy at the season’s end for the best deals.
What to Pack: A tent should be your first purchase and the first item you pack. You'll need one sleeping bag per person, and depending on the weather, an additional blanket or two. Plan to pack either a fire starter or matches, depending on what the campsite has available. Pack sanitary wet wipes to use prior and post mealtime. Create a meal plan prior to departure, and ensure you have enough food and water to last the trip. Don't forget flameless lights, bug spray and poles, bait and tackle if you plan to fish. Lastly, be sure to pack a first aid kit for any unexpected injuries.
Give your family the experience of a lifetime and plan a trip to one of Disney World's six theme parks in Orlando, Florida. From the traditional Magical Kingdom to two mind-blowing water parks, Disney World is your one-stop shop for a family-approved adventure.
Photo by SteamFan via Wikimedia Commons
Costs and Expenses: Depending on how long you're staying, Disney offers single or multi-day passes. Prices start at $91 per person for a single pass and daily prices drop from there should you buy a multi-day pass. You'll need to consider travel expenses (flying or driving) and consider the cost of accommodations. Disney offers family vacation packages that include travel and hotel as part of the deal.
What to Pack: Florida is hot and muggy, so think shorts, T-shirts and bathing suits. If you're driving, you can save money by packing meals for the trip. Bring any toiletries you use regularly, though keep in mind the hotel can provide many essentials.
Yellowstone National Park
Show your children some of the country's most astounding natural wonders by planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park. Be sure to check out Old Faithful, Yellowstone's own Grand Canyon and the Mammoth Hot Springs.
Photo of Old Faithful by Flicka via Wikimedia Commons
Costs and Expenses: The entrance fee for park visitors is $20 per vehicle and is good for seven days. If you plan to drive, factor in food and gas. If you're flying, you'll need to calculate airfare and a rental car. The Yellowstone area is full of hotels and B&Bs ranging from $100 to $300 per night.
What to Pack: Be sure to pack appropriate clothing and footwear for hiking, walking and swimming, and lots of sunscreen, water and snacks. Bring a first aid kit just in case, and pack hats for the adults and the. Add sunglasses and replacement lenses to your bag and you’re all set to go.