This weekend, I am taking my girlfriend up to the mountains for a quick weekend getaway. I am excited to get out of the city for a couple of days and enjoy everything a fall trip to the Rockies has to offer. Before I made the reservations, however, I made sure to tally up the costs of a weekend away.
If you are just going away for a weekend, the most expensive part of your trip will most likely be your hotel. Unless you have a bunch of free nights saved up, like you can get with a Starwood card (I have one), your hotel will be the most expensive part of the trip.
To manage those costs, you can use a few different tactics. First, go during an off season. In Colorado, I try to do mountain trips in the Spring or Fall between ski season and summer tourism peaks. This works a lot of places. Time out your trips to miss big vacation times and you can save big.
Next, shop around. You have to decide on must haves, such as location, quality, or dates. Anything that allows you to be flexible can save you money.
Search ahead of time to decide what you are going to do. From free activities like wine and beer tours or hikes to expensive days like amusement parks, there are tons of ways to find free or discounted ways to spend your time.
This weekend, I am buying some tickets ahead of time online to save and have planned in some free activities too.
Check out coupon books like Entertainment and discount sites like Retail Me Not for more discount ideas. The local Chamber of Commerce might also have ideas and suggestions for your trip.
If you stay close enough to home, drive yourself. If you are going farther, make sure to check out my post on discounted travel to see how I got some free flights from credit cards.
Like with hotels, planning ahead and being flexible can save you a lot of money.
Even if you are at home, you have to eat, and controlling your dining expenses will make less of a difference in your total trip cost than saving on your hotel, but you can still save a few bucks by planning ahead.
Check out review sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor to get an idea of good restaurants and their prices. Like at home, the booze bill will drive your costs up quickly.
You can even save a few bucks from Yelp deals and Foursquare coupons while you are there. Also, check out Groupon and Google Offers ahead of time for more ideas that can save you cash.
To go the most frugal route, you can pack meals or go on a picnic.
How Do You Save Money While Away?
What are your biggest tips to save money away from home? Please share your tips in the comments.
Image by andersbknudsen / flick
12 thoughts on “Planning the Costs of a Weekend Getaway”
We stayed in a hostel for the first time this summer – actually, twice – in a private room. Of course that’s not going to replicate the amenities of a hotel or resort, but if you’re just visiting the city or have other events going it they could do nicely. (We did have to be full-time students to stay in one.) We also looked into buying a sight-seeing package deal when we made our list of places to visit to see if that would save any money.
I stayed in a hostel when I was in Europe last year and in New Orleans in April. I have never tried it around Colorado, but that could be a good way to save a few bucks.
Hotels are always our biggest money spending area. We try to bid on Priceline.
Have you had a lot of success with Priceline? Were you happy where you ended up?
I use airline miles to fly business or first class overseas. I use other miles to cover hotel costs for art of te trip as well. I shop online for 4 star hotels at 50-60% discount. That does not always work, but I still get a pretty good discount.
You get the most bang for your buck going business or first class with miles, but I am in the camp of “travel more, even if I don’t get as nice of a seat.” How do you get such great discounts on hotels?
Use mileage and rewards points where possible, use priceline, and travel off-peak. There are plenty of savings to be had, off “full price”, if one takes the time to plan and employ some strategic yet low-stress thinking.
Have you had good success with Priceline? I get nervous not choosing all of the details up front when I bid.
My wife and I tend to take a lot of “weekend getaways”, mainly because they save us money. We can usually drive, and by various methods (like rewards) get our lodging at discounted costs. Then all we need to spend money on is the food and entertainment. Some of my fondest memories are weekend getaways that cost next to nothing.
Great story Jason. Any other good tips for discounted hotels outside of reward points?
I also end up either using rewards or hotel points, or looking on discount websites. Sometimes I’ll even plan trips on “off times” to save money. This isn’t always recommend (like going to the Caribbean during hurricane season) but I’ve found good deals this way. (like traveling to London in November – very fun time)
I was in London, Paris, and Amsterdam last November!
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