Even when you’re on a budget, you can get out and have some fun. A quick weekend getaway is the perfect way to recharge and change your scenery without emptying your bank account. Here are a few cheap travel tips to help get you get further with every dollar.
Agree on a Budget
The first step towards a fiscally responsible getaway is knowing what your budget is and sticking to it. After pricing out travel and accommodation options, decide beforehand what you want to pay for meals and entertainment. If there’s a restaurant you’ve been wanting to try and you discover it’s more expensive than you planned for, consider splitting a few appetizers instead of indulging on a pricey main course. Instead of going to high-priced events, search for free or lower-cost outings. Many museums, for example, have free general admission or free admission on specific days.
Visit During the Off-Season
By traveling during less popular times of the year, you’ll save money and avoid the crowds. If you live near destinations like New York City, Atlanta, Chicago or Los Angeles, January and February are great months to get deals on hotel rates compared to peak tourist times. Florida theme parks are often cheaper in the winter, too.
If your idea of a quick getaway involves a short flight, consider saving these excursions for weekends that fall outside of the summer and holidays when they’re cheaper. Better yet, consider replacing that two-hour flight with a road trip. Not only will you avoid the flight cost, the view from your car windows is usually more scenic than that in the airport waiting area.
Outsmart the Traps
Tourist traps get the nickname for a reason, so plan ahead to outfox their priciest snags. For instance, if you’re taking a weekend trip to the shore, search for accommodations a few blocks away from the beach. Walking an extra block or two to the sand can keep extra money in your wallet. And before you go, stock up on what you’ll need for the weekend, such as sunscreen and snacks. You can pay double for candy bars at the beach, but they won’t taste any better than the ones you buy on sale in the grocery store at home.
Leverage Rewards and Coupons
Check with your credit card company to see if they offer a rewards program. If your card doesn’t give you points, it may be worthwhile to make a switch. Each time you make a purchase, you could be getting points towards free hotel rooms or gasoline. Organizations like AAA and AARP also offer incentives and coupons for hotel rooms and car rentals, so if you’re a member you could be in for some weekend savings.
Reduce Accommodation Costs
There are plenty of websites that let you compare hotel costs. Trying a well-reviewed three-star hotel instead of a four- or five-star one can save you plenty on an overnight stay, without sacrificing the important amenities.
If you are seeking an outdoor adventure, consider pitching a tent and camping instead of paying for a cabin or hotel. For the cost of permits, a tent and a couple of sleeping bags, you and your family can take a vacation from civilization and explore the great outdoors.