You don't have to travel to exotic locales that cost a bunch of money in order to enjoy your summer vacation. Families can have a great time together either on the road or at home, on the cheap or better yet, absolutely free, thanks for information found within the pages of www.allyou.com.
• Celebrate birthdays for your kiddie after registering him or her for the Toys R Us Geoffrey's Birthday Club. The child gets a crown and a balloon just for stopping by a store.
• For all you readers, free books can equal the best vacation ever. Www.projectgutenberg.org offers more than 42,000 e-books, www.barnesandnoble.com/s/free-Nook-books offers free Nook books and www.amazon.com (search for free Kindle books) provides a list of reads for your reading pleasure.
• Watch a free monthly DVD by texting Redbox to 727272, which is the Redbox Text Club.
• Speaking of credit cards, if you use one from Bank of America, it allows you one free admission at more than 150 cultural centers the first weekend of every month throughout the country.
And family trips that volunteer to help others may offer more than what you generally think of when planning a vacation. For example, go to www.wwoof.org to search for an organic farm through World Wide Opportunities. By helping others to farm, you'll gain free room and board and a wealth of experience. Look for farms described as family run, as they're more likely to accept kids in these volunteer programs. Also, check online at www.workaway.info to choose a volunteer project in the U.S. or abroad. In exchange for you working onsite, you'll receive free housing and food. Just be sure to ask if you can bring your kiddies along (that is, if you want to...).
Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears every Saturday. Email her at consumer watch@timesfree press.com.