The holidays are here and the kids want an exciting vacation. You don’t want to dishearten them, but year-end bills have left you with a shoestring budget.

Lace up those sneakers and put your worries behind. You can use these ideas to enjoy a fun family vacation without forking out a fortune:

Where’s the world NOT going?


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This one’s a no-brainer. Rather than picking the most popular hotspot, opt for a location that is not visited as much. For example, if it’s Europe you want to holiday at – flight tickets to places like Georgia or Armenia are much cheaper than the rest of the region. Or you could choose a short-haul destination within the Middle East.

Plan the trip during the off-season to save a considerable bit of money. Talk to friends about unique vacations they have planned, before you shop around. And if your budget is really tight, camping in the desert sands of Ras Al Khaimah can be a great idea. The kids and the bank balance – both will thank you.

Be the early bird, catch the worm


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Make your flight or hotel bookings much in advance, and take advantage of offers from tour operators such as those on Groupon or HolidayFactory. A lot of hotels hold mid-year flash sales or issue early bird deals with discounts of up to 30 percent. Use this to your advantage and ask if you can score free child travel or 2-for-1 deals and discount coupons.

[Related: Which travel insurance plan is right for you?]

An all round package


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Depending on when and where you are going, it can sometimes be cheaper to book an all inclusive tour instead of making individual bookings. An all inclusive tour has flights, accommodation, hired car services and activities sold as a package.

Or you could consider a resort which has multiple activities, water and other sports or beach access and kiddie pools so that you can keep your children happily busy without spending anything extra. There are plenty of options around the UAE to meet all your needs. Research and compare to get the best.

At home, on your holiday


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Sometimes there’s no place more comfortable than home. Scour through sites such as Airbnb and choose a home-stay for your vacation. Not only is it cheaper than a hotel, but you would also get a chance to cook your own meals and perhaps interact with locals and get a taste of their culture. If you do stay at a self catering accommodation, you can bring food parcels during sightseeing excursions and cut costs there as well.

[Related: Planning a road trip? Try these top destinations in the UAE]

Play your cards right


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If you’ve got a couple of credit cards, wisely choose how you could maximize your savings from them. Have you collected enough air miles to get free flight tickets? Does your card offer discounts at a particular hotel or with a tour operator? Could your card help you get buy-one-get-one vouchers for the activities your kids want to participate in? Could you get some cashback on international spends with your card? Now is the time to use those!