Summer vacation is already half over and your kids are probably starting to go stir crazy and you are ready to pull your hair out and trying to find things to keep them happy and occupied. You may not have enough time off work to plan a lengthy vacation, and budgets are tighter than ever. Staycations are a great way to save money and time. They’re also typically less stressful than planning a complicated vacation that involves travelling. Here are some simple, easy and fun ideas for planning a staycation your kids will love and which won’t hurt your wallet!

Involve Your Kids

First of all, consider talking to you kids when planning your staycation. They may have ideas you never thought of, and it’s a great way to ensure they really enjoy what the family decides to do. Rather than leaving it open for any and all suggestions, you may want to figure out a few options that are within your budget first. Then present these options to your kids and see which one they like best.

Camp inside Your House or out in Your Backyard

If you have enough space indoors, you can set up a tent and camp inside. You could even get by without the tent. Set up your sleeping bags and tell stories or play board games in the dark with just a flashlight or lantern. Another great idea is to camp out in your backyard. Cook out on the grill or even cook right over an open fire, and don’t forget the s’mores. As soon as it gets dark, you can sit around and tell ghost stories or play games and relax together – just like at a real campsite.

Set up a Scavenger Hunt

Plan a scavenger hunt that takes place inside, outside, or around the neighborhood, depending on the age of your children and how much supervision you want to provide. Add a theme for extra fun. For example, for a pirate theme the clues could look like part of a treasure map or be parts of a pirate costume, and the end reward could include chocolate gold coins in a little pouch or treasure chest.

Visit a Local Museum

Taking a trip to a nearby museum can be a great way to spend an afternoon. It can also be very educational for you and your kids. It could be a science or natural history museum, or even an art museum. Visiting an aquarium or local historical sites and landmarks is also an excellent idea. Your children will learn a lot about the world while having loads of fun.

Go on an Outdoor Adventure

There are plenty of outdoor activities that are very low cost. Its also fun to ask another family with kids of similar ages to go along.  This gives you adult company and your kids get friends to play with.  Take a bike ride around town or use a local bike trail. Find the closest hiking trail and plan a day out amongst the trees. If there are any suitable places to fish, you can spend a day relaxing by a river. It can be a lot of fun even if you don’t catch anything. Whatever you do, just don’t forget to pack lunch for a picnic! Stargazing is yet another fun outdoor activity, and you don’t necessary need to go anywhere to do it, though areas with less light are preferable. Teaching your kids about the stars and constellations can make for a great summer night.

Turn Your Backyard into a Mini-Waterpark

Taking a trip to a waterpark can be costly. A cheaper alternative can be having fun with water in your own backyard. You can mix and match various water toys for a lot of fun on hot summer days. Between sprinklers, water guns, buckets, water balloons, a slip and slide, and other great water toys, there are plenty of options available. The best part is that unlike a trip to a waterpark, your kids can play again without it costing anything else!

Hold a Movie Marathon

A movie marathon can be a ton of fun. Find a series of movies your kids will love (or already do), or pick a theme. Make some delicious snacks and you have the perfect movie experience right in the comfort of your living room. You may even consider combining this with a board game night for twice the fun!

Host a neighborhood block party

This last idea seems like it takes a lot more work than it actually does. If you neighbors are really interested, you can distribute the tasks so it’s not too much work for anyone. Every family can bring a dish or two. Anyone who owns a grill can bring it over to help cook up the hotdogs or burgers. Carnival-style games can be set up for the kids. The sky is the limit for what you can do at a block party, but no matter what you choose, it’ll be more fun simply because you have a lot of neighbors to enjoy it with!
We hope these ideas will be helpful in deciding what kind of staycation would be right for you and your kids. Staycations are more popular than ever and for good reason.  Feel free to share your own ideas or suggestions in the comments section. We’d be glad to hear from you.
Image by: Kristin Johnson on Flickr