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Summer fun will be expensive this year: Here's what you can do

Rising cost of summer camps, theme parks, and gas starting to hurt
Multiethnic group of happy male friends with soccer ball
Posted at 5:00 AM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-31 10:38:38-04

Are you getting ready for some summer fun? If so, get ready to spend more money.

Just as we started getting back to normal summer activities, after two years of pandemic-limited activities, inflation is now making summer fun more expensive than ever.

Mom Melissa Taylor, while watching her kids play in a local water park, says she's struggling with the soaring costs of things like football camp.

"This is our first year doing football camp, and it is $300 for a week," she said.

Combine that with inflated gas prices, and this mom says she is really watching the spending right now.

"I have 4 kids," she said, "so I am thinking about going to places where it is just $20 to $30 for activities."

Prices are up on so many things

We're not even talking about prices at summer destinations like Disney and Universal, where a day ticket can cost $150.

Prices are up on local activities, from camps to pools to museums too. We looked at ten U.S. cities to get an idea of what people are paying for summer fun.

On average, spending looks like this:

  • A single zoo ticket is $25.
  • A museum ticket is $10.
  • A regional theme park ticket is $38.

Marketing professor Melissa Akaka of the University of Denver says high demand is driving up ticket prices.

"There is definitely pent-up demand for getting out and doing things with your family and with your friends," she said.

The labor shortage, meantime, is affecting prices for summer activities like sports leagues and summer camps, as those organizations now have to pay more for counselors and other staffers.

"If they can't pay enough to their employees they're not gonna have enough to run these programs," she said.

Things you can do to save

So how do you cut down on rising costs? AAA's Paula Twidale says set a budget and plan ahead. And beware of unexpected food costs when you are on the road, which can add $100 a day to your summer travels.

"Between the price of gas and stopping for meals, or meals in a theme park, it gets expensive."

These are the things that are really costly when you have a family because you're feeding your family when you're on the road. She suggests you visit theme parks and museums on weekdays, or evenings for possible discounts. And always buy tickets online for lower prices.

Or look into "staycation" activities, as we did back during the 2009 recession.

That can mean frequenting your local parks, as Melissa Taylor and her 4 children are doing as much as possible.

"You pay $5 a car, we pack a lunch, and we stay all day," she said.

If gas prices and other rising costs are busting your summer budget already, you may want to consider a few more staycation adventures this summer, like the Taylor family is doing, so you don't waste your money.

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