Our Military Life Blog

Summer Fun On A Budget!

I’ll never forget a close friend’s family vacation that almost got ruined because of some unexpected roadway construction. A father of four had planned a wonderful camping trip for his whole family on the beautiful California coast when a region of Highway 1 known as Devil’s Slide was closed for a huge renovation project that lasted for months.

Before the unexpected road closure, they had planned on taking an RV up the California coastline in this area and camp out at various State Parks. It was too late to make new plans and reservations but not wanting to disappoint his kids, Dad decided they would simply take the family vacation at home instead.

Turns out it wasn’t so bad after all, they all camped out in the backyard and still had a wonderful time. They never set foot in their house for the entire week and still enjoyed most of the activities that they had originally planned, sleeping under the stars, building a roaring campfire at night, roasting weenies, making s’mores and cooking outdoors. He even brought in some sand and seashells to simulate the beach environment — GO DAD!


One of the reasons that his plan worked was because they all pretended they were not actually at home, and since they lived on rural property, they parked their trailer far from the house. For your “staycation” to really seem like time off, be sure to:

Turn off the smartphones and computers, no emails or texting allowed

Put away chores like laundry and housekeeping for the time being

Cook outdoors and prepare meals in advance

Do things you would normally do on a vacation like reading and playing board games


If you’re staying indoors, make things a little more interesting by building a blanket fort, sleeping on the living room floor or using the fireplace for some extra ambiance. If you’ll be camping out in the backyard and you don’t have much in the way of equipment, see if you can borrow some from a friend or family member. Be sure to have some comfortable leisure items like an oversized umbrella, perhaps a hammock, some lawn chairs and patio furniture.


If you will be shelling out some dough on summer toys or other outdoor equipment, look for discounts wherever you can find them. Home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowes can often be a source for significant savings on seasonal and outdoor decor. Think outside the box, if you’re in the military or a veteran, there are special online clubs that offer extra savings and coupons for those who serve our country.


Anyone who has kids knows these two familiar words all too well … “I’m bored!” Be sure to plan plenty of activities for your downtime, things like:

  • Hide-and-go-seek and flashlight tag
  • Board games, playing cards and coloring books
  • Puzzles, crossword puzzles and word search
  • A scavenger hunt
  • Cloud watching and stargazing to identify constellations
  • Rounds of singing and stories told around the campfire


Even though we’re putting our technology down for the time being, you could still have a fun-filled movie night. Watch old favorites or view a new release that everyone’s been dying to see. For a travel feel, think about titles like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, where the main character is thrust into a round the world journey. Be sure everyone in the family has an opportunity to pick out their own movie selection and take time for reviews and comments afterwards.

Don’t forget the popcorn and snacks!

Thank you to our guest blogger Hilary Smith for this awesome blog!

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