With many families facing difficult financial situations this summer, not everyone is going to be able to afford a great summer vacation away from home.  We’ve all heard about “staycations” where you take your vacation time from work, but don’t travel far from home, but how can you really make a staycation feel like a true vacation?

First, make sure you review your finances to see exactly what you can afford.  Because hotel costs and transportation are definitely the greatest expense in most vacations, you should need less money for a staycation.  After you know how much money you can dedicate to the staycation, have a family meeting to plan the vacation.  Talk about what things you enjoy most on vacation, and then try to incorporate those things into your plans.  For example, you may enjoy eating out, or trying new restaurants.   If that’s the case, then perhaps you can all agree to try new places all week.

To make the most of your time, you may want to plan several day trips, where you can experience different things, such as restaurants, attractions, and museums.  Try not to fall into a familiar routine – avoid watching television or reading the internet during the day.  It may take some extra effort, but do your best to make sure your family enjoys together time – just as you would if you were away from home.  One idea is to imagine that you were a tourist in your city for the week – what would you want to do or see?  For some people, you may find that there are many local attractions you’ve never even experienced yourself!

If your budget allows it, you may also want to hire a cleaning service to clean your house at the end of the week – for some families, just avoiding chores is a great part of being away.   With a little creative thinking, you may be able to enjoy a staycation just as any other vacation, without making a dent in your savings!

Jodi Grundig reviews products for moms, babies, and children on Mom’s Favorite Stuff, and writes about her life at Multitasking Mommy.