Just because you’re on a budget, doesn’t mean that you should skimp on weekend trips or short vacations to take a break and explore new sights. We all need a break every once in a while and confining ourselves to our hometown could allow us to get a little complacent. Whether you are a seasoned traveler, or brand new to travel and are looking to spread your wings and explore, you’d be surprised by how much you can save on your trip. If you’re looking to get away, even for a weekend, here are a few tips and tricks on how you can budget for your weekend trip.
Take Advantage of Last-Minute Reservations
When you start planning your trip, think about reserving your hotel and flight at the last minute. This may seem counterintuitive, but there are tons of websites and apps that offer heavily discounted hotels for last-minute reservations. This is especially great if you have the itch for a break and want an impromptu trip. Take a look at websites like Trivago and Hotel Tonight for some great “night of” hotel stays. Websites like these work directly with the hotels they advertise to offer you great deals on rooms that haven’t yet been booked—a perfect feature for the spontaneous traveler.
Similar to last-minute reservations, you can also take advantage of limited time offers on savings websites like Groupon to discover hidden gems of hotels or cruises that aren’t as heavily advertised on larger websites. These trips are usually by smaller travel agencies and companies that are trying to advertise their services by offering heavy discounts in hopes that you return to visit them again.
Consider Going During the Week
If you aren’t confined to planning only a weekend trip, hotel stays and flights are significantly cheaper during the week than during the weekend. Take advantage of those holiday breaks with the kids or save up your PTO to plan a short trip during the week to save close to a hundred dollars on your reservations.
Compare the price per night at the hotel or the cost of the flight if you were to go during the week versus during the weekend. Additionally, take a look at the difference in flights depending on the time of the day the flight is or whether or not there is a layover. If you aren’t pressed for time, simply focus on the lowest price and plan your trip around that.
Keep Your Travel Dates Flexible
Take advantage of the applications on the flight and hotel websites that allow you to find the best deals depending on where you go. If you have flexible dates, you can coordinate your planned trip around when you can get the best price. If you’re wanting to travel around a holiday but aren’t confined to planning your vacation around time off, you could save a lot by reworking your trip outside of the designated “peak-holiday” dates.
Discover Seasonal Jobs or Quick Projects
If you’re struggling to save enough money to build a budget for your weekend trip, take advantage of a short seasonal job at a restaurant, a clothing store, or even a theme park. During peak travel season, many retail stores are looking for part-time employees to help during their busiest hours. What’s more? You aren’t dedicated to keeping the job year-round.
If you aren’t looking for a seasonal job, try finding a project-based gig that allows you to do a quick job for a set amount of money and then enjoy your earnings on your vacation. These can include day jobs like helping someone move or cleaning a home. It can also encompass career-based gigs like writing content for a website or creating a short video animation or graphics.
Look Into Your Monthly Expenses
Between paid apps, spending too much on utilities, and paying monthly on cable when you really only use Netflix, you could “earn” money very quickly on savings alone. According to House Method, you should take a look at your monthly utility bills and see where you could be saving money on energy and water usage. Use this extra money and budget it toward your weekend trip.
You may also discover ways to pause certain apps or utilities that you don’t need and have the option to reactivate later. If you’re a subscription box addict, try pausing your subscription for the next month or so and instead put that money towards your vacation. Once you’re back and ready to start your subscription again, reactivate it. You may even enjoy a special discount to reactivate your box.
Pack Food (Before, During, and After Your Weekend Trip)
One of the biggest budget killers is eating out—this includes eating out when you’re trying to save for your trip, eating out during your trip, and even indulging after your trip when you want to try and recoup some of that money back. Pack your lunch and eat in as often as you can. There will always be those times when you want to go out with friends for happy hour, but try and limit it as a nice treat a few times a month.
While you’re on your trip, take a look at whether or not your hotel room has a fridge and buy some small groceries once you get there for a quick and easy breakfast or lunch, instead of spending $30 for each meal.
Think Nearby (Staycation, Anyone?)
A weekend trip doesn’t need to be a huge extravagant event in order to allow you to explore and take a break. Think about the locations you’d like to visit that you can drive to. Discovering prime locations to vacation to that don’t require a flight will save you hundreds, and potentially even thousands of dollars on your trip.
Depending on where you live, you can probably enjoy a nice relaxing weekend at the beach or an action-packed family trip to a theme park without spending money on a hotel and flight. You may even want to consider a staycation. Camp out in your backyard, sit by your pool, or lounge in your living room—these are definitely some of the more cost-efficient options if you’re on a budget.