By Henry Moore
For travel-lovers, there’s nothing better than an amazing trip. However, when you can’t take that big trip on your wishlist, the next best thing is a budget-friendly weekend getaway. To travel on a budget, it always pays to shop around, plan ahead, and look for deals around every turn.
Always Shop Around
Rule number one to travel on a budget: shop around. Wherever you’re going, look for online deals for everything from accommodations to airfare and car rentals. Travel deal sites are a great place to start, and you can save even more with vacation packages and cashback offers for sites like Priceline and coupons and discounts for Hotels.com.
When you’re shopping around, be sure to explore all options; for example, you may find a better deal through a site like Airbnb. If you can’t find a flight that fits your budget, consider transportation alternatives like a scenic train ride, a ferry, or a road trip.
Flexibility Equals Savings
Maybe you have your heart set on a certain destination, or you only have one weekend open. Whatever your limitations, try to work the rest of your plans around those with as much flexibility as possible. If you’re flying, Thrillist recommends being flexible about your location. That way, you can search for websites to find a location that has the most affordable flights for your dates. If you need a car when you get there, plan ahead to take advantage of weekend deals or get special offers for companies like Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
It also pays to be flexible with your dates. Many people choose holidays for long weekend getaways, but you’re likely to pay more on the holidays. The time of year that you travel can also make a difference. Some destinations are more popular in the summer, but there may be just as much to do during the offseason and you’ll find better rates.
Know Before You Go
Before you go, do a little research so you know what to expect, especially when it comes to costs. When you know the average costs, you can plan accordingly to stay on budget. Check average weather conditions too so you can pack exactly what you need. This way, you don’t end up having to buy necessities, often spending much more than you would have otherwise. If you need new travel gear, shop around at retailers such as REI before you go.
Have More Fun With Less Money
Planning some of your activities ahead of time is another way to save money without skimping on fun. The Simple Dollar suggests looking into any special events. You can often find community events that are completely free, such as outdoor concerts or art festivals.
Another way to sightsee that is mostly or entirely free is to take a self-guided tour. Check out the local visitor’s bureau for brochures and maps to spark your interest, then take off on foot or bike. If there are specific spots you want to see, deal websites like Honey often have special offers for local deal finders like Groupon. This is often the best way to pay for sightseeing excursions and other activities because it allows you to use multiple offers.
Eat Well on a Budget
One of the best ways to save on food when traveling is to bring your own snacks and prepare meals as much as possible. However, you probably also want to experience the local cuisine. With the increasing popularity of food trucks, you can often get street food for a fraction of the cost of restaurants, and the quality and variety can be just as good. When you do spring for a restaurant meal, split courses with a travel companion to get the most for your money.
So many people think that travel doesn’t fit in their budget, but sometimes you just have to get creative. By planning ahead, you can save money on just about any travel expense. With all these savings, there’s no excuse not to take that amazing weekend getaway!