July 14, 2024
Associated Press

Photo source: Wealth of Geeks

By Katie Kimball | Wealth of Geeks

According to a recent Bankrate survey, 47% of Americans plan to skip their summer vacation this year due to affordability concerns. Who can blame them? Tickets for a certain popular vacation destination increased between 32 and 90% in the last ten years.

Inflation has hit travel and family vacations hard, not just the food budget.

Don’t be one of the one-third of travelers who claim they were willing to go into debt to get away. Summer family vacation memories can be yours within budget by visiting one of the ten most affordable water parks and making frugal choices while there.

Choose Affordable Water Parks

Start by choosing quality parks with the lowest ticket prices, preferably within driving distance for a day trip.

A 2024 Swim Outlet study lists the most affordable water parks, with the Six Flags franchise dominating the top five. Each park was assigned a score out of 10 based on their Google visitor reviews, number of attractions, ticket prices, and national interest, which was determined using monthly Google searches.

Georgia’s Six Flags White Water ranks first as the best value at an average of $32 per ticket and a Google review score of 3.9. The park also boasts 21 attractions, 26% more than the other parks in the Top 10. The Six Flags franchise holds the top four spots, standing out as an affordable summer escape. Additionally, Texas is home to four of the Top 10 most affordable water parks.

Alexander Sienkiewicz, CMO of Swim Outlet, says, “After theme park popularity was affected by the pandemic, those with water rides struggled with concerns around health and safety. However, they’ve since made a strong comeback and are likely to see a resurgence this year. Giving guests exercise and relaxation along with joy and fun exactly how every summer should be!”

Once a family chooses their affordable waterpark destination, they must watch out for budget-breakers during the day.

Smart Sunscreen Habits Save Money

If a family applies the recommended two ounces of sunscreen per swimsuit-clad person and reapplies every two hours, sunscreen alone may break the bank with a full day at a waterpark. Use these smart sun habits to protect your skin and save money at the same time:

  • Seek shade when possible, especially when waiting in line or eating meals.
  • Wear swim shirts. Protected shoulders won’t get burned, saving swimmers considerable time and money reapplying sunscreen.
  • Use mineral sunscreen instead of petrochemical versions.

Mineral Sunscreen – Higher Cost, Better Value

The added expense of buying mineral sunscreen may seem excessive compared to that of standard sunscreen options. But the benefits far outweigh the sticker price.

Conventional petrochemical sunscreens, with ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene, and avobenzone, get absorbed into your skin, lowering their effectiveness while raising your internal toxicity. They also tend to rub off easier, especially if you sweat, and can break down thanks to the very UV rays they’re intended to deflect.

That’s why it’s recommended that you reapply sunscreen about every two hours. Mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide remains an effective sun protectant until it is washed or wiped away. When a person is not swimming or sweating, one application of mineral sunscreen can last a full day in the sun.

Most mineral-only sunscreen brands tend to use fairly natural, gentle ingredients. For very young children, you should look up the best natural sunscreen for babies under six months.

Also, mineral sunscreen doesn’t have to be more expensive — if you make savvy choices. Thinksport costs less per ounce than Thinkbaby sunscreen, but is just as gentle on the skin.

However, at a waterpark, you should still play it safe, which is why swim shirts and seeking shade are important parts of the “sun-safe” equation.

Bring Your Own Food to the Waterpark

Food prices at theme parks are always higher than grocery store prices, so if one rises, the other is likely to. In fact, a recent FinanceBuzz study tracked Disney concession prices over the last decade and found increases of 30-120% since 2014.

However, most theme parks, water parks, and even Disney allow families to bring their own food. Be sure to look up policies for the park you’re attending to take advantage of this massive cost-saving measure.

Here are some simple tips for packing your own lunch and snacks:

  • Have a healthy, balanced breakfast before heading into the park. Combining protein, complex carbs, and healthy fat will keep everyone fuller for longer by maintaining blood glucose levels.
  • Pack smart with as much disposable inventory as possible.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle for each person.
  • Instead of using ice packs, put ice in zippered bags. After lunch, pour the extra ice into reusable water bottles.
  • Pack just the right amount for your family to eat so you don’t have to juggle leftovers. Water parks provide lockers for clothing, shoes, and towels, so just leave space for the family’s lunch.
  • Use flexible bags instead of hard-sided coolers, as they are lighter and easily fit inside lockers.
  • Keep foods simple. Bring convenient items that don’t require plates and utensils.
    For a nutritionally balanced snack, try easy items like string cheese, meat sticks, single-serve fruit cups, whole fruit, and veggies with hummus or guacamole.

Remember to enjoy the meal with your family in the shade. To keep everyone safe from sunburn, reapply sunscreen before heading back into the water.

Fun family summer vacations don’t have to break the bank. Look for low- or no-cost attractions, like parks and lakes, within driving distance. Make those summer moments count while keeping money in your bank account.

This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

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