Hello Summer, we’ve been expecting you! The prospect of pool days, BBQs and of course, summer vacation are all very welcomed right now. Although summer may look a little different this year, there is still a long list of fun and exciting activities and summer vacation options to help you get exploring with your family. So before you worry about hopping on a plane this summer, use this time as an opportunity to take a different route when planning a vacation this year. Here are 4 ideas we have on our bucket list this summer:

1. Set Up Camp… In Your Backyard

Why not skip the hours of packing and setting up and opt for an adventure right in your backyard? A backyard campout is the perfect “vacation” for families with younger kids to spend an epic night under the stars with a few extra amenities nearby. It’s a great way to reduce screentime and bond as a family with the comfort of a bathroom or bed close by (just in case!). If you’re not an avid camper, it’s also a great way to experience camping as a family without spending a fortune on a long list of camping supplies. Here’s a few tips for making the night as memorable as possible:

·     Make set up a group effort. Get your kids involved in tackling the tent and setting up camp to kick the night off with an authentic camping feel.

·     Make a scavenger hunt for your kids using specific things found in your own yard (a yellow flower, a white rock, etc).

·     Download and print a stargazer at NASA’s kid-friendly Space Place website ahead of time for this month and help your kiddos find constellations.

·     Prep dinner ahead of time (and maybe take advantage of having a kitchen close by) so you can have healthy options available like fresh vegetables and fruit salad.

·     Don’t forget the bonfire. If you don’t have space for a real bonfire or have access to a firepit you can make a small “bonfire” in a flower pot. Grab a terra cotta pot with holes in the bottom, line it with aluminum foil, fill with charcoal, and light it. Now you’re ready for…

·     S’mores! Step up your s’mores game and add a healthy twist with this delicious Grilled S’more Banana Packet recipe.

2. Paddle To Something New

Think: paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking. Paddle sports are a great activity that provides a long list of obvious benefits but also key wellness boosts that might not be on your radar. Any paddle sport will provide a fantastic arm and core workout which are two areas that can often be overlooked or underused with many outdoor activities. It also offers balance work, increases stamina and is also a low impact activity so it’s easy on joints and tissues. Paddle boarding can easily be modified by balancing on your knees instead of standing so all abilities can participate.

3. Tour de [Insert Your Town Here]

Plan a day on two wheels. Get the whole family involved and map out a day exploring your local town and trails. Make the ride longer than your norm so it really feels like an adventure and plan a few stops along the way so you can rest and refuel. We suggest including a cruise to a sandwich shop or cafe to pick up lunch and then ride to a local park, lake, or river to enjoy a picnic. Here’s a few tips to making this day excursion a success:

·     Be sure to map out your route ahead of time so you don’t get lost and can avoid heavy traffic areas. Try and find some roads or trails that you have never traveled before so you can enjoy a new adventure.

·     Order lunch before your leave or have your order ready so you’re not tempted to pick something more indulgent when you’re hungry mid-ride.

·     Don’t forget to pack lots of water and a few healthy snacks so you have plenty of fuel for the day. Natural snacks like bananas or homemade granola and trail mix are great alternatives to energy bars that are often full of sugars and additives.

4. Hit the Open Road

When we said take a different route this summer, we meant it! There’s no better time than now to bring back the old-fashioned RV trip. The possibilities are endless when it comes to RV travel. It’s a fantastic, affordable way to get out of town that's self-contained, so there’s no need to head into hotels or restaurants. Whether you plan a quick weekend away or go all-out with a multi-week cross country road trip, here are a few RV tips to help avoid any bumps in the road:

·     Map out your route ahead of time so you know how long each drive will be, plan ahead for any road construction or blocks and most importantly, so you don’t get lost!

·     If you’re heading for popular spots like National Monuments or large National Parks be sure to plan ahead and make reservations as they can get very busy during peak months.

·     Depending on how long you’re travelling for, be sure to check which amenities are available at your destinations. RVs often need water tanks refilled or waste dumped so plan accordingly as you map out your route.

We hope you can check a few things off your bucket list with these new and improved summer vacation options. It’s time to hit the road!