Vacations are often costly and, by their nature, time-consuming: two qualities that make them a pipe dream for a lot of twenty-somethings. If you’re in college, chances are you’re interning or working through the summer; recent graduates rarely have paid time off to spare, and even those of us a little farther along the ladder still have to hoard our pennies and our PTO. So what’s left? A summer that sucks? Not necessarily. We’ve put together some tips to enjoy the warmer months without that 10-day trip to the South of France… or even to the local beach.
Find local nature trails.
Even if you’re city bound, chances are not too far outside your urban jungle is a place where you can get into nature on the weekends, probably just for the price of bus fare. Pack some sturdy shoes, water, and layers, and grab some friends who aren’t afraid to sweat. Go climb a mountain, stare at a waterfall, and bask in the natural beauty that your area has to offer.
Look for community pools or a friend with one in their backyard.
Listen, ain’t nobody got the funds for a country club, but your community most likely has a pool somewhere in it. The initial start-up might be a bit pricey, but go in on it with your friends, or see if your apartment complex has a deal. Chances are there’s a pool within your affordability rate, and if not, that’s what parents are for. I bet someone’s folks have a pool and it has your name on it. Just be gracious, clean up after yourself, and send a thank-you note.
Get a bike, and use it.
After the cost of a bicycle, it’s free transport and you’ll get a good workout in the meantime. What’s not to love? Forgo the car or bus in favor of a bicycle, and you could make a simple outing to the grocery store into a nice little day trip!
Head to the water for the day.
OK, maybe you do not live ten minutes from the beach like some of us do, but maybe there is a lake nearby, or the beach is within driving distance? Pack up the car early in the morning with food for the day, Coronas (it is the summer, darlings), a football, a great book and some friends. If you are close to the beach, bring your surfboard and SPF!
No, seriously. There are many among us who think of summer as the seventh layer of hell and who long for those frozen temperatures of winter. They’re the ones who if they could be vacationing, would be off to Iceland, not the Bahamas. So why not bring a bit of your favorite season to the summer? Do some Googling and find a local indoor skating rink, break out that fuzzy sweater you so miss, and bask in the chilly air.
Throw a picnic party.
A lot of fun of vacationing is often getting some quality time with your pals outside of the breakneck pace of real life. Well, if that’s not an option, carve out some down time on your own. Find a local park that’s not too crowded (perks if it’s on a lake, river, or even pond) and tell everyone to bring a picnic-friendly dish. String up some bailing twine between two trees and you have an instant badminton or volleyball court. Someone turn their smartphone up loud and you’ve got tunes, and if everyone brings drinks and food, no one goes broke. Make a Saturday of it and you’ll feel refreshed and reconnected to your pals in no time.
Get a list of who’s coming to your local outdoor venues and grab tickets, even if it’s just lawn seats. Listening to your favorite music live surrounded by your friends and fellow fans, under the stars with a cool beer in your hand, screams summer fun.
Be a tourist in your hometown.
Chances are there are tourists who are more familiar with the sights and flavors of your hometown then you are, because you never bothered to do any of those touristy things. Go to that historical little town nearby and walk through the antique shops, hit up that monument to some famous dead guy, go to the museums, eat from the food trucks, and take really embarassing photos. Chances are it will be more fun than you think and by the end you’ll finally have a list of places to take visitors when they come.
Be a hermit.
Block off an entire weekend with no friends, no family, no Internet or work. Absolutely no distractions. Just do exactly what you want to do. Lay in the hammock and read that book you haven’t had time to get to, sleep all day long, binge on Netflix like you’ve been craving, cook all the recipes you haven’t had time to try, dance in your underwear… the options are endless. The most important part is that you get you time to get away from life even without going anywhere.
You might not get a lot of vacation, but sometimes the need to get outta Dodge is overwhelming. So plan a short trip a couple of towns away with a cool sight. Sometimes I forget that there are cool sights or attractions in other places that I can travel to and back without having to pay for a hotel or airfare. Find a friend and plan a small road trip just to get out of town for a bit, and when you come home you just might appreciate it a little more.
If you live in a town lucky enough to have a drive-in movie theatre, summer is set for you. This is the perfect environment for a fun night out! It’s such a unique combination of catching the latest flick and enjoying the outdoors. Not to mention it’s a killer date idea to have a picnic/movie combo under the beautiful summer night sky. Also—there doesn’t have to be a dress code for sitting on a blanket or in the trunk of a car while watching a movie.
Make yourself a reading list.
Books can always be a “choose your own adventure” which is exactly what anyone who can’t escape for the summer needs to give their brain a break. You might be exhausted at the end of the day, but you can give your brain a wee vacay in whatever book’s journey you choose. Become friends with the librarians, and you have a summer posse in the making. Also, books are freakin’ awesome, and therefore your summer is awesome. Bam.
Morning coffee, evening drink.
Coffee wakes you up and booze calms you down. Both are the elixir of life. Darlings, need we really say more on how that might help you enjoy your vacation-less summer? Take it from a few people who’ve followed this plan—it makes a world of difference.