Simplify Summer Vacation

A Quick Guide on How to Simplify Summer Vacation

Table of Contents

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Do you ever stop to think about the astronomical cost of a Disney World vacation for a family of four? Today’s estimated price tag is anticipated to be over $6,000. As one might predict, it can be challenging to afford this kind of vacation. In fact, a recent LendingTree survey found that nearly 20% of park-goers take on debt to visit Disney World. Getting into debt doesn’t sound like a great way to simplify a summer vacation.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly enjoy the complexity of a bells and whistles kind of Disney trip. The price tag above is inclusive of flights, transportation, 5-day tickets, accommodations, food, and more. I think it’s unnecessarily high, but if folks are willing to pay for it, then there ya have it! Personally, I like to vacation without big crowds, overconsumption, and high costs.

Simplify Summer Vacation

Brian and I prefer to streamline our trips as much as we realistically can. If you crave a more simple summer vacation or if you’re in the early stages of planning one, I hope you find the following tips useful.

Look Ahead

The first thing I tend to do is scope out my calendar to pencil in potential dates for trips that might require a little more pre-planning. We’ve learned that it’s not the best idea to take a last-minute trip to Yellowstone National Park, for example.

Looking ahead at potential dates and locations helps us:

  • Narrow down the optimum time for us to visit
  • Research local events for interesting (and sometimes free) things to do
  • Figure out how many trips we can take throughout the year
  • Create flexibility by visualizing which trips can be switched around if needed

Looking at a calendar and considering our options ahead of time can make travel easier, especially during the summer. It keeps the trip ideas at the forefront of our minds during the year, which encourages us to brainstorm, prioritize, and anticipate the next adventure.

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Weekend Getaways

Brian and I didn’t have many vacation days when we started traveling together. So, rather than plan for someday, we chose to travel with the time we had available.

After work on Friday, we’d hop a late-night flight (often the least expensive!) or road trip to a sleepy little town and return home by Sunday night. These were the best kinds of simple trips. With loose plans and a cheap hotel (often thanks to Hotwire or Priceline’s now-retired Name Your Own Price deals), we made some of our favorite memories.

Small town summer travel

Weekend getaways can be pretty effortless, especially if you have a full tank of gas and no set expectations. We’ve gone from coast to coast and surprised ourselves with all kinds of incredible foods, city streets, sprawling mountains, and breezy beaches—much of which we’ve explored in less than 48 hours.

So, even if all you have is a weekend or two to plan a summer vacation, it can be done. You might surprise yourself with just how easy and fun it can be.

Road Trip Comfort

If time allows, a good ol’-fashioned road trip is one of the most scenic and simple ways to vacation. You’re not on anyone else’s time! A road trip grants the ability to extend a trip, cut it short, and change direction.

Brian and I love a good road trip every now and then. We’ve come to appreciate them so much more than flying lately. Even though it takes a chunk of time to do so, it’s become more comfortable and enjoyable than dealing with airports.

A road trip summer vacation simplifies:

  • Packing restrictions
  • Time constraints
  • Delayed/cancelled transportation
  • A vacation budget
  • Meal preparation
  • Time spent among crowds
  • Last-minute changes

Quiet and Underrated Cities

Visiting underrated cities is one of the most convenient ways to enjoy a simple vacation. We tend to choose a spot on the outskirts of a busy city when we prefer a quiet escape or just don’t want to deal with the cost and crowds of a city center.

While this means we usually require reliable public transportation or our own vehicle, it also means that we are able to avoid inflated tourist prices and limited accommodations. Oftentimes, Brian and I will find ourselves visiting more local areas to explore the community at our own pace. Rather than chase after a city’s must-dos that we might not be that interested in, we like to experience the area in our own way:

  • Shop at the local grocery stores
  • Chat with locals (priceless for great recommendations)
  • Visit a community’s art center
  • Check out the local craft beer scene
  • Dive into local eateries & markets


If you’re open to it, vacationing outside of a major city can absolutely provide underrated experiences. I, for one, appreciate the fact that there is the option to venture into the city center if I so choose. If not, I can enjoy the quiet and ease of staying outside of the city. It’s a simple and affordable way to vacation.

Simplify Your Way

I’ve highlighted the ways that Brian and I choose to simplify our vacations. Our way may not be your way, however. Different people choose to simplify in different ways.

If you are finding yourself a little overwhelmed with planning your summer vacation, then consider trying something different. Uncomplicate the complicated. This could mean that you might trade in a week-long group trip for a private family vacation. Or perhaps you rent a quiet cabin with a pool rather than splurge on a massive lake house. Maybe instead of a crazy party through the sticky streets of New Orleans, you opt for a sun-drenched stay along the Gulf Shores.

Simplifying a summer vacation can also look like:

  • Saying no to the things you don’t want to do
  • Electing to hire a travel agent or itinerary planner
  • Ditching your normal summer trip for an all-inclusive cruise
  • Camping in your nearest state or national park
  • Booking a tour package
  • Unplugging for the entire trip
  • …and more!

There are many ways to simplify a summer vacation. If you’d rather pass on dealing with crowds, overpriced amusement parks, or tourist traps, then consider alternative options. Simplify your way.

But…Can You Do This With Kids?

Yes! Brian and I don’t have children, but I can absolutely attest to the fact that you can definitely simplify summer vacation with kids. My parents frequently hit the road with all five of us kids in the back of a minivan. Our family wasn’t the type to go skiing on spring break or lay around beaches. Instead, we found ourselves road-tripping throughout the country, spending time with loads of family wherever we were, and running around outside.

While theme parks, museums, historical sites, and more were part of our adventures and summer vacations, I recall that they rarely felt…complicated. There was an ease to our travel.

Keep Things Simple

Sometimes my parents drove us through the night from one end of the country to another. Other times, we stopped at a Motel 6 or Days Inn along the highway. We snacked on hard-boiled eggs and little sandwiches on the road or pulled into a random diner or buffet for a bite to eat. We enjoyed movies on our makeshift TV/VCR, which my dad built a stand for and plugged the audio directly into the van. When we ran out of movies, we made up stories or games to play.

My parents rolled with the punches; they’re good at that. They managed to keep five kids calm if things ever did get complicated. They led by example.

Traveling with kids isn’t always easy, but it can absolutely be simplified. It’s all in the mindset.

How will you spend your summer vacation this year?

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