Forget the long car ride or the pricey trip to Disneyland -- thousands of B.C. families are trading in their summer travel plans for a stay at home vacation, or staycation, this year.

The high cost of gas this summer is one of the big reasons families of all income levels are sticking close to home. A recent survey from ING Direct found that over 40 per cent of B.C. residents reported that high gas prices have scuttled their summer travel plans.

While the number is disappointing, there are some pretty fun and affordable ways to keep the family happy and close to home this summer.

Money expert Katie Dunsworth, star of the financial show Smart Cookies on the Own Network, says a great way to save money in Vancouver is pretending to be a tourist in your own city.

"Just a host of different things -- everything from the night market in Chinatown, right through to movies you could check out in the park -- a lot of them are free," she said.

Dunsworth said for the most part kids are easy to please. When given something fun to do and other kids to play with, they don't really care if it's an expensive out-of-town vacation or simply time spent banging around tennis balls at the local recreation centre or country club.

At the Hollyburn Country Club in West Vancouver there's even a wait list for summer camps this year.

High travel costs this summer have parents of these country club kids looking for fun and economical options to pricey family vacations this summer, says Suzy Morrison.

"We have computer camps, digital photography camps, art camps, ballet dance classes," she said.

For B.C. families who can't afford to join a country club, lots of rec centres, community organizations and educational institutes are offering affordable summer camps for kids that don't break the bank.

From budding fashion courses to cooking for kids, Capilano University has over 1,000 children and teens signed up for its summer camps this year.

"You have three children and $150, $190 covers a whole week for them," said Lynn Jest of Capilano University.

For adults, the key to playing tourist in your own town lies in checking out of your day-to-day life. Don't answer email, eat out more often and open your eyes to the possibilities around you.

"There's just so much in our backyard and our province that you can't take advantage of, so for that same amount of money you can really maximize it," said Dunsworth.

B.C. residents take the least amount of vacation time in Canada, with only 62 per cent planning just a short summer trip of four days or less. A whopping 75 per cent of B.C. residents plan to spend their vacation days travelling within the province.

If you're interested in a staycation, Tourism Vancouver has a website called Tickets Tonight that offers half price deals daily to great theatre and other events.

If you're a post secondary student or a low-income family, you qualify for a program through the Vancouver Parks Board for free swimming and skating and half-price lessons.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Lynda Steele

Have your say: Has the price of gas affected your summer travel plans?