Making it Work: Getting Away for a Budget-Conscious Weekend
By Henry Moore
So, you and your spouse have had a rough couple of months at work. The kids just won’t behave, the car needs new brakes, and you’ve had enough. It’s definitely time for a getaway, but money is tight and your options are limited. Your heart says, “Yes,” but your bank account says, “Forget about it.” Ignore your bank account - you can do it. There’s nothing quite as doable as a weekend getaway on a budget if you’re willing to forego a few common travel luxuries. It’s all about the experience and escaping the pressures of the Monday-through-Friday grind for a few days.
One of the best ways to save money on travel for a weekend getaway is to find a destination that’s within driving distance. If you push your driving window to about 6 hours (meaning a distance that’s drivable right after work on Friday), you might be surprised at how many places you can get to by car that would make a really enjoyable three-day or four-day weekend.
A couple hours of online research might just lead you to a little-known diamond in the rough that won’t cost nearly as much as a big city with too many opportunities for blowing a budget. If you’re just not into driving, bear in mind that you can sometimes find great deals on last-minute flights or cash in frequent flyer miles to get you there more quickly and give you a bit more time to see the sights.
Finding affordable lodging is one of the most important objectives of a truly budget-friendly weekend. Sites like Advertise Rental, Priceline, Expedia, Trivago, Airbnb, and Booking.com make it very easy to find accommodations that fit your budget quite nicely. A hotel with a continental breakfast (quite common these days) can also save you money on food. Grab a couple of bagels, some fruit, and some bacon, and you’ve got the makings of a nice little picnic lunch, enough to tide you over during a hike in the woods.
If you don’t find a hotel at an acceptable room rate, look into local rental properties or consider taking advantage of the sharing economy. Most of American Snowbird’s listings are offered on a monthly basis, although some customers make their homes available for weekend stays. For those adventurous types who don’t mind roughing it, check out the campsites in the area and load up your gear for a weekend in the woods. You’ll save a bundle as long as you don’t mind foregoing a soft bed for your favorite sleeping bag.
A pet dog can be a major stumbling block for an owner looking for a good time out of town. If your pet-sitting options are few and far between, try searching on Pet Friendly Rentals by Owner, or check out pet-service websites for a dog boarding or pet sitting service that can take care of your furry friend in your absence.
When it comes to staying budget-conscious, this can be a tough one for a lot of people. After all, eating well is one of the joys of travel wherever you go. When you reach your destination, hit the local grocery store, and pick up some staples and enough for a dinner or two. That way, you can afford to have at least one nice dinner out together. If the weather’s nice, why not put together a picnic and avoid paying restaurant prices all weekend? A basketful of artisan cheeses, fresh-baked bread, and a nice bottle of your favorite vintage wine can make for a very nice experience and a lovely memory. Don’t forget the food trucks, which are a common sight in many cities these days. They’re a good way to sample different kinds of food at affordable prices.
Don’t let the fact that you don’t have a lot of money to spend on a weekend junket keep you from having a good time. All it takes is some diligent online homework and a commitment to find the very best deals for travel, lodging and food.
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