SPRING BREAK: Every parent’s dream and nightmare.

It’s an excuse to take a week off from work, travel with the family, and see some sunshine during the last bit of spring’s cold weather. The only problem: it can get expensive.

From the normal travel expenses of hotel rooms and gas prices to  dining out and booking family fun activities, the cost can add up. But my advice is to not let the money get you down. Here are a few ways you can save some of those bucks while traveling without staying in the hotel room and still enjoy your vacation with the family.

  1. Go to a National Park
    • DYK that this year is the National Parks Centennial? Well, if you have a fourth-grader, you’re in luck. The new White House youth initiative called “Every Kid in a Park” allows all 4th graders and their families to visit national parks FOR FREE. National Parks are a great way to get exercise, experience nature, and feel the local culture. You can even take a picnic basket and make a lunch day out of it! Look here to see if your destination has a park nearby.
  2. Visit the Zoo
    • What kids don’t love to see the monkeys and pandas? There are two free zoos in the U.S.: the St. Louis Zoo and the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. If you’re a member of your hometown zoo, you may get free reciprocal entrance to a zoo where you are visiting. Other than that, most Zoos aren’t too expensive, ranging around $15 for adults and $10 for kids. And going to the Zoo can be an all day event! Not only can you see the animals, but most Zoos have free interactive shows and games for kids throughout the day.
  3. Go to a Museum
    • I know what you’re thinking: there’s no way I can make my kid go to a museum on spring break. But here’s the thing: there are a lot more types of museums than just blank walls filled with Renaissance paintings. In Memphis, for instance, there’s Sun Studio, the self-proclaimed birthplace of rock-n-roll, where musicians like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash cut some of their most iconic records. Sun Studio offers daily tours free of charge for kids under 11 years old.
  4. Embrace FREE Breakfast
    • If you’re looking to book your trip at a hotel rather than a more expensive condo, look for ones with complimentary breakfast. Feeding your kids a big breakfast in the morning for free can often save you from spending money on big lunches.
  5. Bring Your Own Games
    • There’s nothing wrong with bringing your own volleyball, kite, or corn hole with you on your trip. Especially if you’re taking your spring break somewhere tropical. Post up on the beach and play games with your kids. And if you’re going somewhere colder, pack a few board games and a deck of cards. Rather than going out to eat, have a game night and order a pizza to wherever you are staying with the kids.
  6. Look For Places With Kitchens
    • Even though a condo or AirBnb home can seem more expensive than booking your everyday hotel, the kitchens can save you money in the long-run. If you do book with a kitchen, my advice is to embrace it! Go to the local farmer’s market or grocery store and load up the first day you get there. This will save you from spending all your travel bucks on eating out.
  7. Embrace the Local CVB
    • If you’re traveling to a fairly popular spring break destination, chances are there will be some kind of festival or event going on that week. Check the local Convention and Visitors Bureau for the schedule of events going on in the city for while you’re there. You may find a free arts festival, concert, or kids workshop you may have never known about!
  8. Talk to the Locals
    • The locals are you best untapped resource for vacation ideas. Talk to your restaurant server or Uber driver and ask them what they would suggest you do with your family. The locals know the city the best, after all.
  9. Make TripAdvisor Your Friend
    • All of these things can most likely be found on TripAdvisor. Not only that, they will be ranked and reviewed, and you can see how it will fit your family! From bike and segway tours to free walking tours, you can find a lot on TripAdvisor. Personally, I’d suggest doing a walking tour. These tours guides are often gifted storytellers and actors and make historical tours of a city more like a personal theatre experience.

For this year’s family spring break trip, don’t dwell on what it’s going to do to your bank account. Take a step back, breathe, and plan early, and you can spend your time having fun with your kids rather than worrying about your wallet.