Summer is so close I can almost taste it. There's nothing like a year full of gruelling work to help you appreciate the summertime even more. After having such a jam-packed summer vacation last year (click here for more about my life-changing summer experience), I am determined to make the most of my freedom before I take my next big step towards university. As we all know, uni rhymes with another word, money -- and you need lots of it to get there. So, as a young student on a budget, I can't afford to jet off to Ibiza and have the kind of summer that they write songs about. However, there are plenty of ways to have a summer full of memories and Instagrammable photos on a budget. You can have the kind of hometown summer experience that they make movies about.

Luckily for me, my hometown just so happens to be Toronto. Home of the Raptors, the Six, the cradle which forms the essence of Drake's swagger and a multitude of sights, sounds, and tastes. But, whether you live in the heart of the urban jungle, or in the cosiest of towns, adapting the ideas that I will present to you are bound to inspire others of your own. So, in collaboration with Personal Capital, here are a few "fun yet frugal" summer activities.

Racing  through the Six

I'm extremely excited to try this out this summer. In this activity, the TTC (public transit) is your chauffeur and the city is your playground. Pair up in teams of two or if you are under the age of 19, in whatever combination satisfies the use of two day passes (ie. two teams). Prior to the activity each team creates 3 challenges of similar difficulty and gives them to the opposite team. Challenges are completed upon having taken a photo (for proof) and sending it to the other team. The first team to make it back to the rendezvous point (preferably at someone's house or at your squad's favourite restaurant) is the winner.

The challenges could be something as easy as feeding a duck by the Harbourfront, or something as silly as doing a handstand at the base of the CN Tower. Either way, they should be fun and take each group around the city.

Cost: $12/per group (for the day pass)

Pic nic Perfect

"Some beautiful paths can't be discovered without getting lost."
~ Erol Ozan

  • A camera
  • A picnic blanket
  • A friend or two
  • Picnic food

I love getting lost, especially in nature. I used to take bike rides with a friend and we would purposefully take random twists and turns in order to get lost and discover new parts. Take the day, grab a buddy, pack a lunch and head down to the Evergreen Brickworks or to High Park and immerse yourself in nature. Trust me, you'll leave with a clearer head and a few hundred more calories on your Fitbit. Not to mention some great Instagram photos, like this one.

Photo credits: My father

Cost: approximately $30 (for the food)

Visit the Local Festivals

The best part about living in the city is that there is always, and I mean always, something going on. You just have to be open-minded. Participating in local festivals is a great way to immerse yourself into the heart of the city while eating tons of great food from different cultures. Personally, any opportunity to eat something new and exciting is worth it. Grab the latest copy of NOW (or your local city's newspaper) or check out your hometown's website to find out the dates of the events coming up. My personal favourites? The TD Toronto Jazz Festival, the CNE, Salsa on St. Clair and any event that's hosted at the Harbourfront.

Cost: $5-$30 (for food and small rides) 

Around the World in 80 Snaps

  • A camera
  • A city map
  • A TTC Day Pass
This one is a great way to "travel" without actually leaving the city. I love that as you walk through the city suddenly each step falls in sync with the vibrations of all the other lives running perpendicular and parallel to your own. It's exciting and most often then not, you leave the experience having found a new corner of the city to call your own. Grab a friend or three, choose a (insert country here)town  and start exploring. This can be a one day trip where you try to see as many little countries as possible. Or, it can be a weekly thing where you and your pals meet up and truly experience each corner of the city. My personal favourites are Greektown and Chinatown.

Cost: $12 per pass 

Camp Backyardigan

  • A tent + other camping gear
  • Flashlights
  • A backyard
  • Christmas lights
  • A s'mores kit (optional)

You can take the girl out of the city, but you can't take the city of the girl. I've never been camping, but I've always liked the idea of it. When I was younger I would make pillow forts for my sister and I to sleep in, where we would read with flashlights and eat "s'mores" (which were just melted chocolate chip cookies). A more sophisticated way of meshing the camping experience, with the urban jungle is to camp out in a friend's backyard instead. All you need is a tent -- or if the weather is right, a few blankets for the floor and drapes for the walls of your fort --, Christmas lights, and a s'mores kit (because from what I've heard no camping experience is complete without them). Whether you're telling scary ghost stories or gossiping, enjoy the essence of the country plus the amenities of the city all at the same time.

Cost: $8 - $20 (depending on how many s'mores kits you buy and/or if you make your own)

~Alexandra XO

Psst psst... Personal Capital offers a whole slew of applications and software to keep even the busiest gal on track with their finances!
Psst... Check out this DIY Summer Sand Bucket List for a nifty way to keep track off all your summer goals.

What does your perfect summer day look like?