It’s that time of year again where parents from everywhere start to wonder and worry how to keep their kids entertained. It’s hard enough to keep the kids busy at home when they’re not busy with school work, but beyond that it takes on a whole new level of difficulty. Not only is it a challenge to come up with a great family getaway, but how can you do it without going broke in the process?

Though you may have visions in your head about going away on a huge vacation, you may need to scale it back a bit. Sometimes we as parents tend to get carried away and that’s when the big expense comes in. The truth is that for most kids it’s about mixing it up a bit, adding in some great activities, and spending time as a family that will make them happy.

So before you go about planning a big excursion that will just cause you to go broke, consider just how great it can be to enjoy a fun family get away that doesn’t cost a fortune and yet makes for tons of fun and great memories. It really can be done with a bit of planning and a focus on what your family really likes—this is how a vacation should be done!

Consider Getting Out Into Nature

Though you might think that an outdoor vacation needs to be on a beach or at a resort, think again. The truth is that you can create an educational type of vacation that is out in nature with all of the elements, and get a great deal of enjoyment from everyone. Try planning a vacation to a park or outdoor venue where you can camp or just get out and see the beautiful sights of nature.

This is not going to be expensive, but it will create for some great memories. If it’s warmer weather you can get out in the water and enjoy some outdoor activities. A swim in a nearby lake, some hiking, sightseeing, and even a campfire to round out the day is just what can make for wonderful memories. If it’s not as warm then consider some skiing, snow shoeing, or simply going for a nature walk with a little bundling up.

There’s always something fun to do outdoors, so just cater your plans, activities, and attire around the time of year and location. This is a great low cost alternative that will still ensure that the kids have a blast!

Try a Glorified Staycation

We all do it—as parents we assume that in order to have fun we have to take our kids away somewhere. If you’re on a budget or just want to stick closer to home then consider a staycation as a great alternative. This makes for a fun way of rediscovering your home town in a fun and innovative way. You can stay at home and venture out each day, camp out, or even stay at a nearby hotel to mix it up a little bit.

The point of a staycation is to have fun activities planned for each day that are totally out of the norm. So maybe you try a local museum one day and then go to a science center the next. Maybe you get out for a great hike and picnic lunch one day and then go to a local pool or ice skating rink the next day.

This makes for an excellent way of uncovering local treasures, of keeping the kids busy, of making memories, and yet never spending too much money. The kids will love this idea and you will save bundles by creating fun in and  around where you live—surely a great path to head down for future adventures!

Pick a Spot During Slower Times and Get True Value

If you have your mind set on something really fun, innovative, and usually expensive to do, there are ways to avoid spending a ton. Try to go during the week when there are great discounts for the same type of stay. Go during an off peak time when everything from amusement parks to hotels offer great discounts to try and generate business. All of this means that you can still get to that dream destination without spending a ton!

There are always discounts to be found on activities, hotel stays, airfare, or even vacation packages. You may have to be more flexible in your dates or length of stay, but where there’s a will there’s a way. Do check several sources and really do your research and you are sure to uncover some off peak gems and some wonderful discounts out there. Planning a family vacation doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive, just put in a bit of preparation and wait for the fun to begin!