Can’t Afford An Italian Vacation? Here’s How To Make The Most Of Your Summer At Home

As kids, summer meant time off school, family vacations, pool parties, and summer camp, but there’s no summer break in adulthood. While some of us can afford to take a reasonable vacation once a year, it’s hard not to feel FOMO from seeing so many expensive (and long) European adventures via Instagram.

By Meghan Dillon3 min read
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Shutterstock/Victoria Chudinova

Social media may make it feel like everyone is sipping Aperol Spritzes in Positano, drinking wine in the South of France, eating tapas in Barcelona, or soaking up the sun in Santorini. The Instagram FOMO is real, but the reality is that most of the people you know IRL aren’t taking an elaborate European vacation this summer. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t use the dreamy inspiration from our favorite influencers to help romanticize our summer at home. 

Here are seven ways to have fun this summer that don’t require a passport.

Have a Staycation and See a Local Destination

A staycation doesn’t always mean booking a hotel near your home for a weekend getaway (though you can still do that if you have the budget for it). You can have a staycation without spending the night somewhere else. Take a day trip to a local destination like a museum (most museums have a couple of free admission days in the summer), or spend the day in the city if you live near one.

What you can do with your staycation varies on how much you’re willing to spend. If you’re on a budget, look up free or inexpensive things that you can do in your area that you haven’t tried before. You might find that you’ve been sleeping on a hidden treasure in your own backyard. No matter your budget size, you can find plenty of fun things to do that don’t require a passport.

Take a Road Trip

Instagram might be full of influencers in Europe, making us forget that there are plenty of fun places to visit in the United States. Take a road trip with your besties to a city or destination that’s driveable to save money. You can take advantage of weekend itineraries via travel blogs on Pinterest to find plenty of cute things to do, from typical tourist activities like visiting museums to hidden gems like trying the best flavor at a local ice cream shop. 

Have a Picnic Party

Remember how the pandemic made picnics cool again? Unlike nearly everything else from 2020, picnic parties are here to stay! You don’t have to go all out with an aesthetic straw basket and matching picnic blanket in the most Instagrammable spot in your town, just have a relaxing picnic in your own backyard. 

Invite your girlfriends to a picnic party with sandwiches, a charcuterie board, and your favorite chilled drinks of choice. You can go as simple as a few sandwiches, chips, and drinks in a basket at a park nearby. Or, if you are the aesthetic type, you can go as far as making a themed picnic with a color-coded charcuterie board, sundresses, and wine. Either way, it’s the perfect idea for an afternoon activity. 

Have an Italian Summer Theme Night

If you’re getting severe FOMO from seeing endless Instagram posts of Italy, you can channel your wanderlust into a fun Italian Summer theme night with your girlfriends. Search on Pinterest for authentic Italian recipes like fresh pasta and Neopolitan pizza (or order from your local Neapolitan pizza place). Press play on an Italian playlist on Spotify while you wait for the food to be ready and wash it all down with some Italian wine, or make your own Aperol Spritzes.

After dinner, keep the night going by snacking on some gelato while watching a fun movie. You can watch something that takes place in Italy, like Roman Holiday or Under The Tuscan Sun, or check out a Sophia Loren classic like Marriage Italian Style or Two Women. If you’re dying to visit another country like France, Spain, or Greece, you can do the same thing but with food, drinks, music, and movies from those countries.

Unleash Your Inner Child

Remember how fun it was to go to the local park as a kid or how you’d count down the days to your friends’ annual summer pool party? There’s no rule that says you have to stop doing it as an adult, so why not embrace it? Go to the local pool with your friends or invite your friends over if you have your own for a pool party.

If you want to take it to the next level, have a water balloon fight in your backyard (it’s just as fun as you remember, trust us), or rent an inflatable water slide to recreate your fun summer days as a kid. Make it a party with frozen cocktails and snacks. Simply recreate every fun aspect of a kid’s summer party by surrounding yourself with good friends, adding a little alcohol if you want, and you’ll have the best day. 

Visit a National or State Park

In a culture obsessed with technology, the beauty of nature is both underrated and underappreciated. Whether you take a trip to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon or a state park near your hometown, spending time in nature is always a good idea.

Depending on the park and how close you are, you can make a camping trip out of your visit, book a hotel for a relaxing weekend mini-vacay, or simply spend an afternoon taking a walk in the park. Your options may be limited by your budget, but the joy of spending a day in nature is priceless.

Start or Join a Book Club

Reading in the summer isn’t just for kids who want to stay on top of their academics. There are very few things as relaxing as reading outside on a summer day! Gather up a group of friends or family members for a book club. You can follow along with a celebrity book club like Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club or pick a book of your own to discuss at a monthly (or twice a month, you can make your own rules) meeting with food and drinks.

Not sure what to discuss at a book club meeting? Many popular fiction books have a book club section in the back with discussion questions, but you can always create some of your own based on the events and theme of the book. You can choose any book from a classic like To Kill A Mockingbird or Pride and Prejudice to something modern like The Nightingale or Where The Crawdads Sing. Just be sure to pick something within the interests of the group.

Closing Thoughts

From local destinations to cheap ways to have fun with friends and family without leaving your hometown, having a blast this summer doesn’t require a fancy foreign vacation. All it takes is some creativity and good friends and family to surround yourself with, and you can have the best summer anywhere.

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