August is ending, the kids are likely already back in school, and the temperatures are set to start dropping fast.
It’s inevitable: We’re going to have to wave goodbye to summer. But that doesn’t mean there’s not still time to squeeze a little bit more sun-filled fun out of the season!
After all, the days are still long and warm and the state parks and campgrounds are still open. You even have a long weekend coming up! Who’s to say you can’t fit in one more late, end of summer family trip?
Summer Road Trip Across America
Alright, so it may actually be too late to plan an epic cross-continental journey… unless, of course, your kids are home schooled and you work for yourself.
But there are still tons of fun day trips to do in the summer, as well as weekend-ready summer vacation destinations and ideas for families.
How to Plan a Summer Road Trip
So — ready to take a thrilling summer adventure trip, whether or not the calendar says September? Here are some of our best tips for pulling it off.
1. Don’t be afraid to make a day of it.
Before you go crazy marking up your atlas and summer trip planner with a heap of wild and faroff destinations, remember — the kids are back in school, work is in full swing, and you’ve likely got lots of upcoming expenses and engagements due to the holidays.
But that doesn’t mean you can take an amazing day trip! Whether it’s an afternoon on the beach or even just a long-ish hike in a local park, you’d be surprised how much just a few hours can feel like a full-on vacation if you focus on relaxing and enjoying yourself.
2. Choose destinations close to home.
Whether it’s a three-day weekend or even just a few hours, late summer trips are usually fairly short.
That means you’ll want to limit your list of possible summer road trip vacations and destinations to the ones in a fairly close radius to your home. That way, you won’t eat up all your time getting there… and you can actually spend most of the trip kicking back!
Think there’s nothing to do where you are? Take another look — you might just be surprised at how much is available in your area. From local state parks to historical preserves, there’s a ton to see in the US, no matter what part of it you call home. Discover the wonder of your very own neck of the woods!
Summer Trip on a Budget
Don’t have a ton of cash for your last-minute summer bash? No worries. Here are some cheap summer trip ideas, as well as tips and tricks to make any summer vacation more affordable.
3. Set up camp!
When you’re talking about cheap trips to do in the summer, there’s simply no option as classic as camping — and for good reason. What better way to enjoy the gorgeous weather than to sleep under the stars?
Plus, camping is arguably even better in late summer, since it’s hot quite so hot and humid as it might be, say, mid-July. Plus, it’s a super affordable option that still feels like a getaway! Just grab your tent and sleeping bag, pack up the car, and hit the road. If you don’t have your own camping equipment, you can even rent it fairy cheaply!
4. Renting an RV? Don’t forget the peer-to-peer market!
From s’mores over the campfire to birds chirping in the morning, camping’s undeniably awesome… but sleeping in a tent isn’t for everyone.
Good thing RVs are there to save the day for those of us who don’t want to give up A/C and indoor plumbing while we commune with nature!
Of course, traveling in a house on wheels isn’t quite as affordable as really roughing it. You need to account for a hefty gas bill, as well as higher campground accommodations if you’re staying in a private lot.
There’s also the cost of the vehicle itself to reckon with, and depending on the type of RV you rent, it can be surprisingly high! For instance, some large, Class A motorhomes are listed at well over $250 per day at large rental franchises.
That’s why RVshare can be a great option for thrifty campers. Private owners can generally afford to rent their rigs for a lot less than a large corporation — and you can also find non-conventional vehicles, like sleeper vans and conversions, which offer a unique experience as well as a lower price.
Last Minute Summer Trip Ideas
The best summer trip destinations aren’t always the furthest or most exotic. In fact, in most cases, it’s less about the location… and more about the company.
5. Escape with your sweetie.
Psst — you know how we keep talking about how the kids are back in school?
That might actually be a good thing if you’ve been dreaming about romantic summer getaways. No, it won’t be as simple as dropping them off at camp… but if you can find a sitter, you can easily turn a three-day weekend into a four- or five-day adventure, which opens up tons of options for cheap summer vacation ideas for couples across the US.
And hey, even if you can’t get someone to take the kids for a few days, there are tons of fun places to go in the summer with your family. A single day off school won’t kill them, especially if you engage in hands-on educational activities at your destination. (Here are some of our favorite camping destinations for summer — and how to pick one of your own!)
Don’t forget: Even if a last-minute summer trip is out of the question, you can still spend the long, sunny evenings grilling up dinner in the backyard and relaxing with the people you love most.
At the end of the day, that’s really what makes summer so special in the first place. And fortunately, you can spend quality time together any time: spring, summer, winter, or fall.