Cheap Summer Vacations: Family Fun Without Breaking the Bank

First Seacoast Bank • July 17, 2023
A family hiking during their cheap summer vacation.

A great way to plan a cheap summer vacation is to stay close to home. Fortunately for us here in New Hampshire, the staycation is a viable option that doesn’t come at the expense of compromising fun. Given our geographic location, we have quick access to the mountains, forests, lakes, rivers, ocean, and more, all within a quick jump from wherever we happen to live. 

Day trips are a beautiful thing, and there’s more than enough action here in the Granite State to tie together a slew of them to create a memorable vacation fit for the entire family. Regardless of what kind of vacation you’re dreaming about, set a budget and stick to it! 

Research, Research, Research

There can’t be enough research involved in planning a getaway—from a day trip to a retreat to the mountains for a couple of nights. To ensure your summer vacation remains affordable, you need to put in the work to understand how much of a commitment your ensuing destination is or could be. 

During this step of the planning process, you may find that your chosen destination isn’t aligned with your budget (either in a good way or a bad way). So, once you dig into your options, remember that this is a time to make budget and timeline decisions. As it relates to saving the most money, take advantage of the day trip. While it requires a bit more driving, it enhances the opportunity to save money on lodging costs, etc. 

For those with a little more wiggle room in their definition of “cheap summer vacation,” check Airbnb and VRBO listings for generally less expensive lodging than hotels/motels. The other beautiful thing about utilizing these services is that they will likely include some sort of kitchen or kitchenette, which enables you to cook your own meals. This can run you much less money than eating out at area restaurants. 

Plan a Cheap Summer Vacation with Friends 

Whether you’re a single person, a couple, or a family, people find a lot of enjoyment in planning getaways with friends. Maybe you’re working to conquer all of New Hampshire’s 4,000-footers with a friend or are spending warm summer days catching rays on the beach. Regardless, when you’re with a group of people, the costs of renting an Airbnb, a fun campsite, etc., are greatly reduced when split multiple ways. 

Another fun element to include in this type of planning is taking turns cooking meals. This not only helps divvy up the cost of meals, but also opens you up to try new things or someone else’s take on pizza night

Pack Food for Meals and Snacks

Whether you’re flying solo or with a van full of kids, snacks and accessible bites to eat is essential in cutting back on exorbitant food costs. Throw some granola bars in the glove box, some nuts in the center console, or a cooler full of string cheese in the trunk to get you through the moments when hunger strikes. Also, water bottles and perhaps a few juice boxes for the kids are smart ideas in helping you fulfill your goal of an inexpensive summer vacation. 

6 Ideas for Epic Inexpensive Summer Vacations (Here in New Hampshire)

Camping in a State Park – Camping is an affordable way to explore the great outdoors. New Hampshire has some fantastic State Parks that offer low-cost camping options and picturesque backdrops to enjoy a little time in nature.

Beach vacation in a less popular destination – The coastline is hopping in New Hampshire during the summer months. Look for affordable beach destinations that are less popular than typical tourist hotspots. Some of these places often have lower rates for accommodation and food. And there are a handful of great oceanside campsites to pitch a tent at in the event you’re looking to extend your stay. 

Explore small towns – Small towns can be charming and affordable alternatives to big cities. There are often free or low-cost activities to enjoy, such as hiking trails, local museums, and farmer’s markets. In New Hampshire, there has been a resurgence of small town renovations as a concerted effort to restore and revitalize some of the beautiful history our state has to offer. From Newmarket, Exeter, Portsmouth, and Dover, to Woodstock, Littleton, Meredith, and so much more… 

Staycation – A staycation can be a fun way to take a break without breaking the bank. Treat yourself to a few days at home relaxing, reading your favorite books, enjoying your favorite hobbies, or exploring your local area. For the kids, pitch a tent in the yard, set up a sheet in the trees, and watch a movie outside alongside a lit fire with smores, popcorn, and all your favorite snacks! 

Volunteer vacation – Many organizations offer affordable volunteer vacations where you can travel to different parts of the world and help with various projects related to conservation, education, and community service. New Hampshire has some great opportunities along these very lines on non-profit farms, nature conservatories, and others. Sure, there’s some work involved, but with a place to stay and meals—and not to mention learning something along the way—these types of vacations can set the course of a potentially life-altering experience (and adventure). 

Take advantage of free activities - Many cities offer free outdoor concerts (hello Prescott Park!), festivals (hello, Cocheco Arts Festival!), and events during the summer. Check out local websites and social media pages to find out what’s happening in your area. We’d be remiss not to mention the fun you can have at the Seacoast Science Center at Ordiorne State Park. While it’s not free, it’s almost free… And there’s a whole lot to do with a family or otherwise (indoors and outdoors)! 

Prepare for Your Cheap Summer Vacation

There’s a lot you can do here in the lovely state of New Hampshire. A good portion of which doesn’t cost a dime. Here at First Seacoast Bank, we’ll help you get the most bang for your buck with our trusty savings accounts, CDs, money market options, and other products that can help you earn dividends while you’re out there on the trail, conquering Mount Washington. Come by and discuss your options today, or, at the very least, let us know how your staycation went! We could all use an idea or two.