Cheap Summer Family Outings-Not Everything Has To Cost Lots Of $$ Money

By: Canadian Budget Binder
Have you ever noticed once the winter sets in most people are comfy sitting inside with the family watching movies around the fire,eating popcorn or playing games. Well that gets old, although it’s a fairly cheap night in with the gang. Then suddenly our lawns turn from white to blah and from gremlins to warriors we battle our way to sun, sand,music,parties and the smell of barbeques! (beer in hand I might add)

barbeque (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, it’s that time of year in Canada where we start to hear the lawn mowers running,the birds chirping and your neighbours spring cleaning their homes.
Then we have the  kids who are anticipating or better yet counting down the last days before summer vacation. We’ve hung up our snow gear to dust off the next seasons attire because it’s time to get out and get moving again.
When we think of fun for the family we automatically think money don’t we.
Yes money can get you top-notch entertainment but not everything that is fun and educational costs money . Keep in mind not everyone has money to save for family getaways or short jaunts around the city. It also doesn’t make sense to pile debt on top of debt if you can’t afford it in the first place. The pleasure will be short-lived once the bill arrives… sort of like after Christmas if you didn’t budget the money you spent on gifts.
There are alternative ways to have fun without breaking the bank.
You can form a neighbourhood sports team and play sports once a week, go for long walks down the Nature trails or have a party in your back yard. We like to go check out Open Houses/ Homes for Sale in our city to see what others are doing to their homes and get ideas for our own home. This is free and fun because it’s something we like to do as a couple. Home Decor and landscaping are topics we both like to explore for free.

Geocache used in the Geocaching sport. Loonse ...

Geocaching is also an exciting fun outdoor event that has been getting lots of buzz around the world.


Geocaching is outdoor treasure hunting using a Smart Phone or your GPS device and planned coördinates.With Geocaching you attempt to find the treasure and it’s yours. You can even plant a geocache if you want and have people search for it. Yes you are out-of-pocket the cost of the device but it’s free sailing after you pay for it with that cash you saved!  It’s fun for the entire family and it’s free. There are currently 1,743,784 active geocaches around the world and 5 million geocachers.

Ikaika swimming along in a tank at Marineland ...

Not convinced yet? Well start the budget if you like the excitement and sounds of the most familiar family tourist destinations  in Ontario. If you are a family who loves to go to Niagara Falls ,Marine Land or Canada’s Wonderland you know you better save your nickles. These types of trips are great when you plan them ahead of time and save money in the budget. This helps to offset the costs so you don’t have to dip into your Emergency Savings or see your credit line grow exponentially.
Keep costs low=planning
We don’t have any of our own children (yet) so in the summer we have exchange students at which time we need to be creative when it comes to outdoor fun.  Although the students already attend the big attractions in our area as listed above we still like to show them the surrounding area. One place we like to frequent is Webster’s Falls in Hamilton, Ontario.
Webster's Fall

Webster’s Fall (Photo credit: Di Qiu)

We hike through the park and visit the falls and take loads of pictures and all costing us around $5.00 to park the vehicle plus gas. We make sure we bring plenty of beverages and snacks for us along the way and a lunch if it will be a picnic in the afternoon. You certainly don’t want to get caught having to pay tourist prices on food and drink so bring extras just in case. In any case eating in vs eating out even if it is a picnic still saves you about 50% of the costs of convenience. The kids simply love the time we spend at Webster’s Falls as it’s something they’ve never seen whilst exploring wildlife, plants, scenery and people.
We also like to visit local parks and beaches and again you mainly pay for parking and gas which is a fun frugal trip out. Keep an eye out for coupons, on-line tickets or in shops that might help drive the cost of your trips down and help save some money in your pocket. The list of free/frugal fun you can have with your family or as a couple is endless. Keep an open mind as there is fun to be had by all. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best ideas!
If all else fails have that plan B in place for the big attractions ..Budget for family vacations=planning… so you don’t get stuck with a hefty bill.


How to Source out Free and Cheap Outings in your area?
  • Talk to your friends and see what they do
  • Research on-line, there’s a whole world waiting to be discovered
  • Call your local City or Tourism Information Outlet ( if you have one) or visit as they have a multitude of magazines you can look through.
Below you can read what some of our Canadian Budget Binder Facebook Fans do with their family for a frugal yet fun outing!
What do you or your family do for fun that doesn’t break the bank?
Share your comments with us!

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  • Michelle DesRoche: Hike, picnic at the park
  • Laura Neddo: Go on a picnic,walk your dog,go to the water and feed the birds,go on a hike. and clean up the yard!
  • Sue Demers Judges:Take them all shopping with me to help out with coupons. Not exactly free, but rewarding and its an outing!
  • Nicole Ballam: We have a bird sanctuary nearby where the birds eat right out of your hand…the kids love it
  • Lindsay Threlkeld: We go geocaching (there was an upfront cost for the gps, but now it’s free to do!)
  • Joanna Cheevers: My daughter just loves when I take her to the beach. One of our local beaches has the sand to play in, a park and swings, and a historic carousel which although not free, costs just a nickel a ride.
  • Kathy Molnar Mahood: The beach and the Peterborough zoo in northern Ontario it’s so pretty there and its free except the little train ride you can go on and they have a lot of animals
  • Edna Mahood: Our local zoo is free, We window shop a lot,Camping
    Art museums. Many different things are offered seasonally.
  • Tamara Carr: I have a membership to the Canada’s game centre and children under 2 can swim for free :-) So that and the park is usually our day out
  • Jen Peacock: We go to my parents cottage at Crystal Beach…gets a little crowded at times but my Aunt belongs to a beach club near by and we can sometimes go with her and its less crowded. Port Colborne is nearby and that is fun, Niagara Falls is also close. I love picnics…when we’re home we sit by the credit river and when we’re at the cottage we picnic along the Niagara Parkway. I also love going for walks and jogs. I know it’s not free but we go to yard sales every Saturday and we love that! I’ve gotten a few good bargains… books for my son, a toy lawn mower and Christmas cards…$3
  • April Christianson: I just got back from an hour-long bike ride with our 4 yr old daughter. I wish we had a bike trailer to take our 10m old but we had a grandma. We are going swimming tomorrow with free passes that we got.
  • Wendy LeDrew: Park, beach, walk, hike, bike ride, campfire, picnic… playing a game of catch, baseball, soccer, or volleyball, frisbee…
  • Sherry Hounsell: Back Yard!
  • Shelley Ann McInnes Chenier: The beach once the nice weather is back…only cost is gas….
  • Vicki Holst: I used to take my nieces to an amazing fish store they thought they were going to an aquarium.
  • Bonnie McCarl Buckley: The hubby and I go searching for old abandoned houses, buildings etc and take our camera , some of them have private property keep out signs up so we avoid those but we have found some pretty cool places
    You can find CanadianBudgetBinder on Twitter HERE or Facebook HERE don’t be late… come join the conversation. Mr.CBB
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How To Take A Cruise On A Small Budget

How to Take a Cruise on a Small Budget

Guest Post By: TacklingOurDebt

Have you ever been on a cruise? Or are you of the belief that cruises are super expensive and not within your budget? I think most people believe that cruising is quite expensive. So today I am going to talk about how easy it is to take a cruise on a small budget.

  •  Choose an Older Ship with a Luxury Cruise Line

There are a number of luxury cruise lines to choose from and the thing to note is that as they launch their new ships with higher prices, they begin decreasing the price on their older ships.

They do this for a couple of reasons

  1. One, because the new ship may have more glitz and shine, and it may have more facilities and restaurants.
  2. Second, because the demand to cruise on the new ship is higher because seasoned cruises are curious to see the new look, while back on the old ships the novelty has worn off for them.

Even though the novelty may have worn off on the older ships it doesn’t mean that the quality of the ship or the cruise itself has deteriorated.

In fact the cruise lines work hard at ensuring that each one of their ships is scheduled for a multi-million dollar refurbishment every 6 years or so. This keeps them looking new and up-to-date.

As well the older ships have worked out any kinks or issues that a new ship may experience when it is first launched.

  • Choose a Budget Itinerary

Cruise lines offer many 3 or 4 night cruises in the Bahamas, as well as on the west coast of Mexico, at a very low price. Some are as low as between $55 and $65 a night per person. Keep in mind that this includes your accommodations as well as all of your meals and snacks.

For 2 people that works out to approximately $130 a night. Most hotels charge much more than that per night, and your meals are not included.

Another budget conscious way to cruise is by taking a repositioning cruise. A repositioning cruise is when a ship has to change from one itinerary to another, but they do not want to sail to their new homeport with an empty ship. Instead they offer huge discounts to fill the ship with passengers.

My very first cruise was a 3 night repositioning cruise that sailed from Vancouver, British Columbia to Los Angeles, California, with one stop in Seattle, Washington. It was on an older Princess Ship that isn’t even sailing anymore. It was cheap like borscht, and we made new friends and had a wonderful time.

  • Choose to Travel During Low Season

My best advice, if you are able to, is to travel during low season. Cruise lines offer amazing low-cost fares at these times.

For example, the best time to cruise to Alaska is in May or September. The weather is still pretty cool up there at that time, so the prices are much lower than they would be say mid-summer.

The thing is, if you are cruising to Alaska you are going there because of the amazing scenery, including snow-covered glaciers, not because you are looking for a warm vacation. So going in May or September is the perfect time.

The best time of the year to cruise through the Caribbean is in the Fall. You will find so many cheap cruises in the Fall, specifically in November and December.

One of the cruises I took back in 1997 through the Caribbean was during the first week of December. The price was very low, and because it was low season, there were fewer people on the ship. Everyone had more room to spread out, and the service was amazing because the ship was less crowded.

Cruises are cheap at that time of the year because fewer people travel then. Their kids are in school, people are busy getting organized for Christmas, and the last thing they want to do is take a vacation.

But, if finding a way to cruise on a small budget is what you need to do, then why not consider re-arranging your Fall schedule this year so that it allows you to take advantage of these incredible cruise deals.

As you can see, in December you can take a 7 night cruise on a Carnival Cruise Ship out of Florida for as low as $379 per person for all 7 nights, including all of your meals. That works out to $55 per person, per night. Again, much less than a hotel.

  • Choose an Inside Cabin

Cruise lines offer a variety of cabins. You can stay in a cabin with a balcony, one with just a picture window, or one that has no windows at all, which is referred to as an inside cabin. Of course each ship also has several penthouse cabins to choose from that come with a baby grand piano and your own private Butler.

If you are cruising on a budget your best bet is to book an inside cabin. They are the exact same size as the ones with the windows, and include all the same amenities, but cost less.

Cruising doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun. Once onboard you will find that 99 percent of the activities are free. And when you stop at any of the small town ports, instead of paying for an excursion, simply walk into town and go sightseeing for free, or go to one of their popular beaches for a free day in the sun.

Sicorra is a freelance writer that enjoys writing on such topics as Personal Finance, Travel, HealthVitamins and Food & Drink. Please understand that anything she writes about is based on personal experience and is not meant to be taken as professional advice. If you require medical or financial advice, please contact a professional in that field. You can also find her at her personal blog Tackling Our Debt

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