Best summer vacation ideas for families on a budget. Budget-friendly summer vacation ideas for families who can’t afford to travel this summer.

Are you struggling to plan a summer vacation on a budget?

You’re not alone, according to a recent Bankrate survey 60 percent of Americans who aren’t planning a summer vacation have decided they can’t afford one because they’re focusing on paying day-to-day bills (44 percent) and paying down debt (22 percent).

It’s great that Americans are prioritizing paying bills on time and paying down debt, especially since 40 million Americans will miss at least one credit card payment this year, but families who can’t afford to plan a vacation shouldn’t miss out on all the summer fun.

Best Summer Vacation Ideas for Families on a Budget

A summer vacation doesn’t need international travel or a stay at a luxury resort to be memorable, and these budget-friendly summer vacation ideas prove it.

“Our financial lives require trade-offs, and we need to learn how to balance our obligations with an occasional reward,” says Kevin Mahoney, financial planner and founder of Illumint. “After all, we work hard and need to recharge periodically.”

Save on Travel for Summer Vacation on a Budget

Odds are you haven’t seen everything there is to see in the region where you live. Summertime is the best time to explore the area you’ve come to call home and learn more about its history.

“Almost every single state has something that is a draw for people,” says Melissa Ellis, financial planner and founder of Sapphire Wealth Planning. “Look at a map and say, ‘What’s in my area that I’ve never seen?’ and plan a driving trip. That’s a great way to see what’s around you. If you don’t like the area that you end up in, you can always get in the car and keep on driving.”

Rethinking the “Staycation” as a Summer Vacation

When you have young children, it’s easy to remake your home into an exciting new place for them to explore. Have a backyard? Set up a tent, roast some marshmallows, lay out some sleeping bags and see who braves the outdoors for the whole night.

If you don’t have a backyard, find ways to bring more fun indoors. Build a pillow fort, set up a crafts table, learn about a different culture and cook a new cuisine, these are all examples of how you can embrace the excitement of summer without leaving your home.

Or, a radical suggestion, why not do a digital detox as a family? When the WiFi is off and phones are locked in a cabinet anything can happen! The kids will gripe at first, but you’ll be surprised how enjoyable it can be to tune out, get creative and do something fun together, whether it’s a long walk or bike ride, or a picnic in the park or local forest preserve.

Budgeting Savings for Next Year’s Summer Vacation

If your heart is set on planning a big getaway for summer vacation, start saving for next year now. Research costs for flights, accommodations and attractions to get a rough estimate of how much the trip is going to cost. Add at least $100 to that estimate so you have a buffer to account for price increases and unexpected expenses. Then, use a calculator to determine how much money you need to set aside each month to meet that goal by the time you need to purchase your tickets.

Some Americans use credit card rewards points to fund their travel and if it’s done the right way this is a great strategy, but, if you find yourself spending money you didn’t intend to spend just so you can earn points, the rewards point system can help you rack up debt in a hurry. Set some ground rules to keep yourself in check if you decide to use credit card rewards points to fund your next summer vacation.

More on Summer Vacation and Travel:

Traveling This Summer? Watch Out for Travel Taxes and Fees

Summer Travel: Hot Spots You Might Not Have Considered

What Does My Insurance Cover When I’m Traveling?

Four Tips to Avoiding Vacation Rental Scams

Tax Deductions and Travel: Mixing Business with Pleasure

Saving Money while Traveling with your Family