Smart Advice for a Cash-Conscious Weekend Getaway

Here's an article from Jane Moore at FitWellTraveler.com. I'm always happy to host guest articles about useful information and this fits well into our Rambling category. Please check out her site if you like travel as much as I do.

There’s nothing quite as refreshing after a hard week at work than a weekend getaway with your spouse. If you have kids and a budget, such outings can be hard to come by, but they’re so much fun and rejuvenating that it’s worth the time and effort it takes to plan ahead and make arrangements. Start by reviewing the calendar and looking for six or seven weekends where you have nothing planned. Check with family members or friends who might be willing to watch the kids that weekend (this is key: If you have to pay for childcare, it defeats the purpose of a cheap getaway weekend). Try to be flexible with your dates, as things can change over time.

Destinations

If your aim is to enjoy a budget-friendly getaway, look at destinations within driving distance to save on airfare. Sometimes, you can find great deals and fun places to visit just a few hours from your front door that you’ve never considered before. Try to limit your drive to four or five hours so you can leave after work on Friday and arrive the same evening — and not have too far to drive on your return trip. Also, don’t forget to check with AAA and online resources to make sure there’s no traffic construction or lengthy delays on your route.

If you prefer not to limit yourself by distance, look for travel deals and cashback offersfor sites like Priceline, and check for weekend discounts and online couponsfor companies such as Enterprise.com for travel discounts on rental cars. Many travel sites allow you to set fare alerts so you’re alerted when the best prices become available.

Lodging

Once you’ve decided where you’re headed and have found an airfare that fits your budget, initiate a broad-based search for the best price on hotel rooms; keep you eyes open for offers for savings for places like Hotel.com to help you out. If possible, start a couple of weeks ahead of time to get a jump on it, which could make a difference if there’s a lot going on at your destination the weekend you’re traveling.

Don’t forget to include perks as you look for a hotel. A continental breakfast is one of the most valuable benefits of staying in a hotel on a short getaway so you don’t have to buy breakfast and can take food along with you for lunch later on. If you’re not too hung up on location, you’ll have a better chance at finding good rates, though it may mean having to drive farther to the sights you want to see. Don’t forget to include Airbnb in your search; it’s a service that helps you find space to rent in a local family’s home. You might also find some waysto cut costs by looking for deals through sites such as Groupon.

What to Do?

A weekend getaway is a lot of fun, but with only 48 to 72 hours to fit in your agenda, it’s necessary to pick three or four primary activities to focus on. Otherwise, let chance and happenstance take over; part of the fun is stumbling across restaurants and attractions you didn’t know were there, so keep your eyes open for side adventures that will lend color and the excitement of discovery to your weekend. Schedule one or two nice dinners out and then eat on the cheap the rest of the time. You might also consider visiting a local grocery and setting up a picnic one day so you can spend more time outdoors. 

A weekend getaway shouldn’t be a budget blow-out, so think budget-friendly as you plan each aspect of your trip. Be prepared to change dates if you’re unable to find someone to watch your kids or pets. Plan ahead and spend plenty of time researching airfares, room and rental car rates well in advance of your trip. 

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Editor's note: A simple weekend getaway can really improve your outlook on life. For other ideas on this, please check out 10 Steps to Attract the Life You Want. If you have pets, you may also want to visit Disaster Preparedness for Your Pet.

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