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This summer, a cash shortage need not eliminate the idea of a family vacation. Clever and creative parents can turn time off work into an amazing vacation experience, without leaving town.

The idea here is to take a stay-at-home vacation or a “staycation.”

staycation famiy camping in the backyard.

Make a plan

Determine the dates of your staycation. Create a schedule and itinerary that includes activities and meals. Make a big colorful chart and allow the kids to participate in the planning.

The point of a staycation is to make it feel as much like a real family getaway as possible, without leaving home. So, to make sure the whole family is on the same page, it is good to establish ground rules that everyone can agree on. 

Save the date

Start with deciding exactly when your vacation at home starts and ends. Make sure these are dates you clear of all regular life, just as if you and the family were leaving town for a period of time.

Establish guidelines

Set a few guidelines for what your family may and may not do during this time. These could include all or some of the following: Read more

Got more time than money for family entertainment this summer? No problem. There are lots of things you can do with the kids that are completely (or nearly) free. No kidding! Check out these ideas:

Using a smartphone to find a treasure in an activity known as geocaching

GO GEOCACHING

Geocaching (pronounced gee-o-cashing) is an outdoor treasure-hunting game in which the participants use GPS to hide and seek containers (caches).  A typical cache is a small waterproof container concealing a logbook or “treasure,” usually toys or trinkets of little value. More than 750,000 geocaches are registered on various websites devoted to this pastime. If you have a handheld GPS or a GPS-enabled cell smartphone, you’re ready to get started.

First, read The Ultimate Treasure Hunt—Geocaching with Kids, to get inspired. Then go to Geocaching 101 to get a great overview followed by this 75-second video, What is Geocaching?

To get started, you’ll need to register, but it’s free. Once you’re ready to start treasure-hunting, just type in your zip code and start exploring! Geocaching is the ultimate treasure hunt and kids love it! Be sure to learn simple geocaching protocol and etiquette before you head out on your first adventure.

SUMMER READING PROGRAMS

Public libraries and retail booksellers across the nation are offering wonderful free reading programs for kids this summer. What a great way to encourage your child to read over the summer months while at the same time having so much fun! Many of these programs offer the kids freebies—free books, coupons for free ice cream or other goodies. Summer Reading Programs 2018 offers a list of Summer Reading Programs for Kids that give free books, money and more.

VISIT A MUSEUM

Many museums and galleries throughout the U.S. offer free admission on special days or weekends.

For example, The California Science Center, new home to Space Shuttle Endeavor, is always free. Chicago Children’s Museum offers Free Family Night on Thursday evenings, 5 to 8 pm. The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Calif. offers free admission on the first Sunday of every month. Contact the museums in your area to see when they offer free admission.

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If there’s one food that signals the arrival of summer, it’s gotta’ be salad. Backyard gardens everywhere are bursting with beautiful tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and basil.

But the same warm sun that nudges produce to perfection can also zap all the energy from the average cook. That’s why we love big, lovely summer salads. We can step away from the hot stove to eat well any night of the week.

big main dish vegetable salad with grilled chicken

And now the problem: How? Where’s the recipe? Truth be told, there really aren’t a lot of specific recipes for entree worthy salads. What we need is a formula of easy-to-remember yet specific steps that will let us use what we have already to create hearty summer meals that even our pickiest eaters will enjoy.

Start with a big bowl

Depending on how many you’ll be serving this may need to be really big. Because salad ingredients are generally low-energy density and high water content, you’re going to lean on volume to fill and satisfy even the hungriest member of the family.  Read more