Every now and then, you just have to get away. We all love taking big vacations, but in between those big trips, it’s great to take smaller weekend trips. With an open mind and some money-saving strategies, the possibilities for your next budget-friendly weekend getaway are endless.
Shopping around for deals online is a great way to save money on your trip, but make sure you’re familiar with the companies you use. If you aren’t familiar with a company — whether you’re booking transportation, accommodations, or anything else — check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure they’re legitimate and that they have good customer reviews. Everyone wants a deal, but it’s just as important to be aware of travel fraud and scams that are out there. Seniors especially are often targeted by these travel scams, and falling prey to them can cost you a lot of money and stress.
With that in mind, we recommend these tried-and-true tips for saving money on every aspect of your trip, including accommodations, transportation, and expenses once you get there.
Stay outside the city center – Hotels in tourist areas charge a premium to stay in the city center. Money Crashers recommends searching for hotels just outside the most desirable area to find a better rate. Research transportation costs so you don’t spend as much on transportation as you save on the hotel.
Be a loyal customer – If you’re going somewhere you’ve visited before, or if you have a preferred hotel chain, look into whether the hotel offers rewards for returning customers. Sign up for email lists too so you’re the first to know about special offers.
Be spontaneous – When you want to take off without a lot of planning, take advantage of websites and apps that specialize in helping you find last minute deals.
Be flexible – According to Business Insider, the best way to get cheap flights is to be flexible about your dates, your destination, or both. Instead of starting with a destination and dates in mind, search for the cheapest flights and plan your trip accordingly.
Make it a long weekend – Taking an extra day could mean that you can get lower airfare. This tip only works if your airfare savings is more than the extra night you stay, so be sure to add it all up beforehand.
Pack light – Most airlines charge for a single checked bag, so plan on packing light to fit everything inside a carry-on. To get away with fewer items, National Geographic recommends packing just a few staple clothing items, especially in neutrals, and using smaller accessories like travel scarves to create different outfits.
Cut Costs at Your Destination
Lower food costs – Food and drinks are your biggest expenses, but you can cut these costs by planning ahead. When you’re packing snacks for the journey, toss in a few extra to have on hand while you’re sightseeing. Try to always book a hotel that has breakfast included and a mini-fridge in the room. Doing this means one meal a day is covered, and you can have a simple lunch or dinner at the hotel. When you do eat out, HuffPost recommends walking a few blocks away from the primary tourist areas. Once you get away from the restaurants that cater to tourists, you’re likely to find a more authentic meal at a much lower price.
Go sightseeing for less – One of the most affordable ways to experience a new place is to spend time outdoors. Even in an urban area, check out the greenways, public parks, and walk around exploring the different neighborhoods. If you want to see other tourist sights, look for online deals to save money on tickets.
It’s ok to pack in lots of activity, but it’s also entirely fine to use a weekend trip to relax and unwind. Either way, plan smart with these budget-friendly tips so your weekend getaway doesn’t break the bank. Even when you put everything together at the last minute, take advantage of these money-saving tips to make the most of your time away.
Blog post written by: Henry Moore