Summer holidays: How to keep the kids happy on a budget

26 September 2019

The summer holidays in Australia come with one expectation from the younger members of a family: fun.

With six weeks stretching out ahead and no school in sight, to the kids the opportunities seem endless. For the activity funders (otherwise known as parents), however, the outlook may be a little different, especially if you're on a budget.

So, to help you plan a truly memorable summer vacation that won't break the bank, we've created an article jam-packed with useful tips. 

The school summer holidays can be an expensive time for parents.
The school summer holidays can be an expensive time for parents.

Idea 1: Camping

Travellers from around the globe flock to our country each year to take in the awesome scenery and array of wildlife, and who's to say us Aussies can't enjoy it too?

Camping is a great way to get the kids away from their screens and into nature, with opportunities for hiking and swimming during the day and cooking under the stars by night. What makes this even better is that many regions of Australia are littered with well-equipped but totally free campsites. 

Camping is a great way to get the kids away from the screens and into nature.

There are two great phone apps in particular, CamperMate and WikiCamps, that will show you the camping choices available in your chosen area, making it easy to plan a route for a weekend (or longer!) road trip. By tapping the locations, you'll get a list of the facilities available (e.g. toilets, drinking water, BBQs) and often photos to show you what the site itself looks like. Of course, there are also paid campsites on these apps, giving you free reign to choose whatever options best suit your budget.

Idea 2: Arts and crafts

Arts and crafts are a great way to fill a relaxing day at home, and another super cheap activity for your kids this summer. A quick trip to a local stationery store will give you all the materials you need, and then it's time to let your family's creative side run wild. 

Whether it's simple hand print painting for younger children, or something more advanced for those with greater experience, everyone will have something to show for their efforts by the end, with minimal strain on your wallet.

Arts and crafts are a great indoor activity for kids in summer.
Arts and crafts are a great indoor activity for kids in summer.

Idea 3: Neighbourhood games day

Think of this like a play date meets the Olympics. For sports-inclined kids and their families, a neighbourhood games day at a park can be a fun and free way to enjoy being outside this summer.

The idea is simple: recruit some local family friends, ask each to bring sports equipment or an activity, and let the best team win! Ideas for games can include:

  • Rounders 
  • Soccer
  • Touch rugby
  • Sack racing
  • Twister
  • Cricket
  • Giant Jenga.

The possibilities are almost endless, and what better way to end the day and get back some of that energy than a summer sausage sizzle?

Idea 4: Hometown tourists

We're all guilty of it - seeing more of other peoples' cities than our own. To rectify this, get the cameras ready and take your kids on a sightseeing tour of everything their hometown has to offer. Among the sites to look out for are:

  • Interactive museums
  • Aquariums and zoos
  • Wetlands and other nature reserves
  • Art galleries (you'll often find a kids' section where they can get hands-on with crayons and other equipment)
  • Water parks and other adrenaline activities.

After this, your kids might have a new found appreciation for their neighbourhood, and who knows, you might learn something too!

Treating your hometown like a tourist destination is a fun way to experience a new side to it.
Treating your hometown like a tourist destination is a fun way to experience a new side to it.

Idea 5: Get to work for the environment

The planet needs all the young eco-warriors it can get, and getting involved in volunteering can be fun and cheap, as well as highly rewarding. Check out community notice boards, either online or at local centres, to see if there are any activities you and your family can get involved in this summer. Tree planting is always a winner with kids who love the idea that the little sapling they put into the ground will one day tower above their heads.

Of course, you don't have to venture outside your own garden if getting your thumbs green is the aim of the game. As well as planting trees, why not research the types of veggies you can grow in the backyard? Here, the kids get the double reward of a fun, outdoor activity, as well as great-tasting home grown produce. From your perspective, a veggie patch is an economic way of contributing to a healthy diet for your family.

Idea 6: Cooking courses

On the subject of food, cooking courses are another great indoor activity - it's useful to have a few of these in your back pocket for when rain spoils the summer parade.

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a whiz in the kitchen, teaching the little ones to cook won't cost you a penny other than the ingredients themselves. Alternatively, kids and adults cooking classes are very popular these days, and a quick Google search will show you what's on offer near you.

The school summer holidays can be an expensive time for parents.
The school summer holidays can be an expensive time for parents.

Idea 7: Go fishing

Fishing is another cost-effective summer activity that's bound to get the kids excited. Children's rods are usually very cheap, and getting kitted out with all the equipment is a huge part of the fun! Remember to check whether you need a fishing licence in your state, what species you're allowed to keep and that your fishing spot is safe for children. If you're lucky, you may just come home with dinner.

For those with younger children who live near the coast, a great alternative is rock-pooling. Grab a couple of nets, check the tides and see what critters they'll find lurking under the seaweed.

Hopefully these ideas have shown you that it's more than possible to have a great time with the kids this summer, while sticking firmly to your pre-established budget. If you want advice on how best to save or invest your money to give your family security going forward, get in touch with the experts at Local Government Super today.


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