How to Get out of Town for the Weekend Without Blowing Your Budget
Do you feel like you’re stuck in a rut these days? A weekend away could be the perfect refresher. But how do you do it without blowing your budget? Make the most of your travel budget by following these frugal travel tips.
Finding good prices for air travel can be a bit of an adventure in itself, but with a few smart strategies, you can simplify the process and save money. One idea is to try booking multiple legs of your trip separately. Instead of your airline scheduling the legs all in one fell swoop, you can price and purchase each leg yourself. (Just make sure you watch your transfer times.) You can save a pretty penny if you play it smart, especially if you book with a site like Priceline, which is known for low-priced fares, plus you can search for additional money back opportunities.
When you fly and when you buy can also impact how budget-friendly your airfare will be. Weekends are the most expensive time to fly so, if you can, make it a long weekend. According to USA today, Thursday and Monday are both cost-saving days to fly. You should also start planning your trip 10 weeks in advance and buy your tickets at least seven weeks before you plan to travel.
On the flip side, if you don’t care as much where you go and just want to check out something new, many airlines offer highly discounted fares when they’re trying to fill seats. SkySkanner can help you find these and allows you to search by origin airport only rather than by destination. SkippLagged is another great way to find cheep flights by allowing you to book flights with connections through the city you actually want to travel to. Just remember, if you fly this way, you can’t check luggage.
Selecting an alternate airport or a regional airline can save you a fair amount of cash, too. You might need to drive a bit farther or catch a train after you reach your destination, but those savings are sometimes more than worthwhile. Likewise, booking your getaway during off-season time slots can save some money; this rule also applies to car rentals, due to basic supply-and-demand principles. If you’re staying in an area that requires you to rent a vehicle, check out a site like Enterprise.com, which offers weekend deals and third-party coupons, especially during non-peak seasons.
Accommodations and Entertainment
Once you reach your destination, you will want to savor the local sights and flavors. There are several ways to pack a lot of sightseeing into just a couple days. Consider staying at an all-inclusive hotel, many of which offer low rates for short stays and sometimes include transportation. (Ask us!)
You may pay more up front with an all-inclusive hotel, but you’ll ultimately save by having drinks and meals covered. Many resorts also offer free activities during your stay. Look for park trips, walking or driving tours, and guided tours, which can give you a feel for local culture.
For affordable fun, check whether museums and other attractions offer special events and free or discounted time slots; you can either let that guide your timing or take advantage of already-made plans. Exploring festivals is another fun way to get the most out of a short trip and meet local people. It’s a great way to see the essence of a community you wouldn’t find elsewhere.
Booking excursions ahead of time makes it easy to grab the best time slots and best pricing. As activities fill up, you’ll sometimes be forced into more expensive options due to availability.
Necessities and Incidentals
You’ve gotta eat, so why not make it an integral part of your travel experience. Experts at Huffington Post suggest venturing slightly off the beaten path for the best vacation food. Stay on budget by using sites like TripAdvisor to find cheap eats at your destination ahead of time. Sort by price, location, cuisine, and even dietary restrictions.
Reducing the amount you invest in incidentals, like baggage fees, gives you more money to spend on the fun stuff. Traveling light, with just a carry-on is a great start but to stay comfortable throughout your trip, you should focus on packing smart. Your packing list should include some lightweight ensembles you can dress up or down, comfortable shoes and travel-size health and beauty products to keep your bag a convenient size. If you can get away with using the shampoo provided by a hotel, you’ll save added weight and space in your bag. Also try to bring mix and match items so you can get away with fewer articles of clothing. A single pair of jeans, two tops and a scarf can provide outfits for three or four days.
Enjoy your trip!
The planning side of a weekend away is half the fun. Make the most of your travel arrangements by doing some research, packing smart and spending the money you save on fun and entertainment at your destination. With these frugal travel tips, you can enjoy a great getaway without blowing your budget!