Summer is here. Have you made any vacation plans yet?
While Netflix binges might seem irresistible, you won’t create memories or lasting friendships on the couch. Make this summer your most exciting one yet and build your own adventure!
Don’t think you can afford to take a vacation? I know the feeling, but sometimes a small adventure can become a thrilling experience. You can plan that graduation trip or weekend getaway with your friends, even if you don’t have tons of money to spend.
Here are 5 summer vacation ideas for college students in the US.
1. Go Camping
Take a camping trip with your friends for a getaway that everyone can afford. And the best part? You won’t even have to travel far. Every state has national parks you can take advantage of for a short road trip.
Check out the rules for the park you want to visit because each one will vary on the their rules and pricing. I’ve gone camping for as little as $3 for a 3-day parking permit! Of course, major parks like Yellowstone can cost between $30-50 for a parking fee, but split between a group of friends it’s still way cheaper than booking a hotel or cabin.
Borrow a tent or invest in a lightweight tent, like this Amagoing tent (it fits up to 4 people). Tents can get pricey, but if you’re not a serious camper there’s no need to invest in an expensive option. You don’t need much to enjoy the camping experience. Just being surrounded by nature and relaxing with your friends is enough to refresh you from a long semester.
2. Tour Your Own City
Chances are, even if you live a major city you’ve never experienced everything it has to offer. It’s easy to put off local activities when you tell yourself you can just visit on another day, or maybe the novelty of some attractions wear off when they become overrun by out-of-towners.
But playing tourist in your own town IS actually cool and budget-friendly. (Not from the city? Take a short road trip to the closest city in your state!)
Make it a weekend escape. You can book a cheap hostel or pitch in on a hotel room with your friends--staying away from home will make the experience feel even more special. Plus, it helps you avoid further procrastination on the idea. You’re not going to waste the money you spent on booking a place to stay...
Afraid some well-known tourist spots might be too expensive? Don't worry, most attractions offer student discounts.
3. Spend the Day Hiking
Looking for some excitement with your crew this summer? Go on a hike!
Hiking makes an awesome day trip. It’s also an incredible workout...made even better by the fact you barely realize you’re working out. Hiking is practically free. The only tools a beginner needs to bring along are comfortable shoes, water, snacks, and sunscreen.
Research the trails in your area. You might be surprised to discover there are scenic hiking spots right in your backyard. Plan out your route ahead of time to convince your friends to join you on the trail.
4. Plan a Road Trip
Some of my favorite memories from college are linked to roads trips my friends and I took, even if it was just overnight or a 2-day getaway.
Here’s why you should take a road trip:
- You find new places you probably wouldn’t discover otherwise.
- Spending hours in a car encourages bonding and fun conversations.
- You have the opportunity to become more spontaneous.
Still seems expensive? It doesn’t have to be a month-load road trip across the country. There are plenty of destinations in every region. Your road trip can be in your own state or just a few hours down the road. If there’s a group of you, pitch it on a hotel room.
If you’re traveling with one friend? Cut costs by camping out in your car with an air mattress that inflates to fit across the backseat of a car. I used this air mattress for a road trip through Colorado and we loved it.
Just keep in mind one thing. While last-minute decisions and stops along the way are part of the action, you should at least map out some road trip destinations in your region first.
5. Go on a Food Tour
Who doesn’t love good food?
Plan a local “cheap eats” food tour this summer for a cheap trip. You can make one big run of it or spread it out over the summer. A good friend of mine loves the TV show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. We made it a point to try as many food destinations from the show as possible in our area a couple of summers ago. Most of them were totally new to us and it felt good to support mom-and-pop restaurants.
Guy Fiere has a bestselling book series based on his show. This edition of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives is great to have on hand for traveling--the print version comes with a pullout map of the US that features every restaurant location.