Most people anticipate summertime all year long. They look forward to the endless sunshine, the long days, and the fact that during the summer almost anything seems possible. Unfortunately, when summer finally does come around, it seems to just fly by. Before you know it, the season is over and you’re left waiting once again for its return. But there are several ways to combat the feeling of a wasted summer. You could make a few simple choices that will ultimately ensure that you’ll get the most of this summer.

Strategically plan your trips

Summer tends to be the season when most people travel because children are out of school and the weather is usually ideal for exploring a new place. While planning those summer vacations, try to be strategic about when those vacations will occur. If you’re planning to take a trip somewhere far away or somewhere expensive, look at pushing it back to the end of the summer. That way, you’ll have something to anticipate all season long. If you must take that trip at the beginning of the season, consider planning another small trip or two throughout the rest of the summer months. Something as small as a day trip an hour or two away, or heading to the beach for even just a night can make you feel like you’ve taken another vacation.

Eat outdoors

Another way to get the most out of summer is by enjoying the warm weather and eating outdoors as often as possible. This season is the time to get use out of that patio furniture that sits abandoned out back. Clean it off and take the family outside for the meal! The only real way to enjoy the season is by being outdoors, so you should take every opportunity you can to be out there. If you don’t have access to the outdoors from your home, you should opt to sit outdoors while dining at restaurants when at all possible—even if it means waiting an extra 10 of 15 minutes. Lunchtime can be the perfect time to enjoy a quick meal in the fresh air. Instead of eating in your break room, opt to eat the food you’ve brought from home outside.

Play in water

Is it even summer if you don’t play in the water? It’s literally the only time of the year when you can really enjoy the water, so take advantage of it. Play in the pool, wade at the beach, do water activities on the lake—anything! Find a way to access water, and then go and enjoy it. If there is absolutely no way for you to access water, then go buy a cheap sprinkler that you can attach to a garden hose and jump around in it. Playing in water is a crucial summertime activity, so if you neglect it or just choose to avoid it, your summer is bound to feel unfulfilled.

Plan a barbecue

Another activity synonymous with the season is barbecuing. The smell of a grill and the taste of food cooked over an open fire create some of the best summer memories. Make the most out of this summer by planning a barbecue for your family and friends. But don’t think that a deluxe, expensive grill is a necessity. All you need is something that can cook food, even if it’s small enough to sit on a table. What’s important is the memories it will create, not how fancy your grill is. Grilling out for a ton of people can get expensive and a little overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to ask your friends for help. Try making it a potluck, where each guest brings a dish for everyone to enjoy. Even friends who don’t cook can help by bringing plastic cups and plates. Cut on some music, or turn on a game and enjoy one of the best activities the season has to offer.

Take pictures

It sounds so simple, but taking pictures of even the most mundane activities can help you get the most out of your summer because it will help you relive those moments when summer does finally pass. Don’t be afraid to be that person who makes everyone pause for a picture when you’re out having a good time. Pro tip: take pictures during the magic hour (sunrise or sunset) for the best photos because the sky during those times in the summer truly is magical.

Eat season-specific foods

So many of our favorite fruits and vegetables are in season during the summer, so make it a point to enjoy them as often as possible. Watermelon is the perfect example of summer food. It can only be found during this season and is perfect for keeping you cool and hydrated. It is also the perfect prop for any summer photo! Do a little research to find out which foods you love are at their freshest this season and stock up. Eating foods that you can only get during the summer is the perfect way to make the most of the season.

Do something you’ve never done before

Summer is the perfect time to check things off your bucket list. The great weather gives you the ability to do almost anything your heart desires. Take some time to determine those activities that you’ve always wanted to do, and then figure out how you can make it happen. That way, when you look back on this season, it can be referred to as “that one summer when I…!” And there’s no better way to make the most out of anything than by making lifelong memories.

Megan Pinckney (@shadesofpinck) is a retired beauty queen turned lifestyle blogger who loves exploring the world and writing about it.