A weekend getaway is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of your routine life! For the budget-minded traveler, a quick weekend escape can be the answer to wanderlust without breaking the bank! Whether traveling during the off-peak season, choosing budget friendly accommodation, dining on a budget, exploring a destination for free (or almost free) or by flying a budget airline, like Spirit Airlines, there are plenty of ways to save money during your next vacation! Continue reading for 7 weekend getaway budget tips!
1. Plan a Weekend Getaway During the Off-Season or Shoulder Season
The travel-industry divides the year into three seasons: peak (or high) season-typically June through August, shoulder season-typically April, May, September and October, and off-season (or low) season-typically November through March.
Throughout my travels, one thing I have learned is to not travel during peak season (unless I find an unbelievable deal). Travelers will find lower airfare (sometimes hundreds of dollars cheaper!) and cheaper accommodations (some hotels offer great off-season packages to fill the empty rooms) when traveling during shoulder season or off-season. Plus, there tends to be less crowds during the less popular travel months!
*One disadvantage of traveling during the off-season is that some tourist attractions might have shorter hours or close completely during the winter.
2. Don’t Travel on a Holiday Weekend
In the states, holiday weekends like Columbus Day, President’s Day or Memorial Day give us workaholic Americans a three-day weekend. A three-day holiday weekend might sound like the perfect time to book a weekend getaway, but typically airfare and accommodation costs are more expensive than a non-holiday weekend.
Instead, peruse your calendar for a non-holiday weekend and utilize a vacation day or call in sick…I’m a believer that everyone needs a “mental health day” every once in a while! 😉
3. Choose Budget-Friendly Accommodations
Transportation and accommodation costs are the two biggest budget-busters while traveling. A few ways to save on accommodation are:
- When visiting a major city, stay on the outskirts/suburbs where accommodation is usually cheaper.
- Book apartments, cottages, cabins or houses through VRBO or AirBnB.
- Book with a hotel chain that offers kitchenette suites. I know you are probably thinking booking a suite isn’t budget friendly… but if you book a kitchenette suite, for an additional $40-$50 more than a regular hotel room, you will save money on food since you can prepare meals in your hotel room!
- When booking a hotel room, compare prices online. I like to peruse third-party travel websites, but always end up booking with the hotel chain directly. If I find a cheaper price on a third-party website, I typically call the hotel directly and ask if they will price match!
4. Dining on a Budget
When on vacation, eating three meals a day at a restaurant can quickly make you go over budget! A few ways to save on dining (and drinking) are:
- Eat breakfast at the hotel, if its included. Even if you aren’t a breakfast person, grab a small bite at the hotel or a piece of fruit or granola/protein bar to throw in your bag for when you get hungry later in the day.
- Prepare meals at the hotel/rental property. If you booked a kitchenette hotel suite or staying in a fully furnished apartment or house, visit the local grocery store and prepare meals at your home away from home. Food like fruits (apples, bananas, oranges) and granola/protein bars are easy to carry with you when out exploring. Utilize the kitchen to make your favorite dinner recipe and purchase alcohol or wine at the grocery store as well.
- Look for lunch specials or eat a large lunch (eating lunch at restaurants tends to be cheaper than eating dinner).
- Share small plates/appetizers and enjoy the cocktail-special during Happy Hour.
- Visit websites like Groupon or check with the restaurant’s website or Facebook page for deals and discounts.
5. Budget-Friendly Sight-Seeing
Just because you are on a budget doesn’t mean you have to skip the tourist attractions.
- Visit the destination’s website to find discounts on attraction tickets. Some large cities have a “city pass” that includes admission/discounts to most tourist attractions in the area.
- Research free things to in the area. Visit museums during free hours, join a free walking tour, stroll through free parks and gardens, window shop, and enjoy a picnic (not quite free, but cheap!) with a pretty view.
- Search on Pinterest for city guides, budget travel guides and free things to do in the area. (Follow me on Pinterest for more travel inspiration!)
- Visit websites like Groupon for 2-for-1 deals/discounts to tourist attractions.
Getting around a new city can be tricky and taking taxis everywhere can get expensive.
- If the destination has public transportation, utilizing the buses and/or train system can be a cheap way to get around the city.
- Another great way to get around the city is with Lyft or Uber.
- Look for discounted car rentals online. Book either months in advance or search for last minute deals, and don’t forget to fill your rental car with gas prior to returning it! The car rental agencies have a major upcharge for gas if they have to refill the gas tank!
7. Fly with a Budget Airline
After reading the above budget-friendly tips, I know what you are thinking, isn’t flying expensive? Not if you fly smartly with a budget airline carrier!
Spirit Airlines A319 (image courtesy of Spirit Airlines)
Spirit Airlines offers travelers a “Bare Fare,” which means you only pay for what you use, not what you don’t. The “Bare Fare” is fully unbundled and doesn’t include the “normal” options found with other airline carriers; so no free checked luggage, no seat choices, no free drinks or snacks and only a small purse or laptop bag is allowed on board. Of course, you can pay extra for all of the above options, but the lowest fares offered never include those options.
Spirit Airlines A319 (image courtesy of Spirit Airlines)
Although budget airlines provide cheap airfare, there are a few tricks you need to know when traveling on a budget airline:
- Check in online and print your boarding pass prior to arriving at the airport. Spirit Airlines charges $10 to check-in and print your boarding pass at the airport.
- Purchase your checked bag or carry-on item when booking your ticket online. Prices vary, but by purchasing the baggage fees when booking you can save a considerable amount (from $30 to $70).
- Purchase snacks prior to arriving at the airport and grab drinks at an airport kiosk prior to boarding your flight.
- Always read the fine print to see what the fares include (that’s true for any airline).
- If flying with Spirit Airlines, check out their “Simple Guide to the Way We Fly” online guide for all the details about their “Bare Fares” and how to make the most of your flight.
After reading the above, you might be asking yourself, “is flying with a budget airline, like Spirit Airlines, worth it?” As long as you understand the fares and are fine with the basics, you really won’t notice a difference between flying with a budget airline and one of the “big name” commercial airlines. In fact, Spirit Airlines has one of the youngest fleets in the skies, their safe, fuel-efficient and their seats are similar to economy seats on other airlines.
Spirit Airlines A320 (image courtesy of Spirit Airlines)
*Visit www.spirit.com to see where Spirit Airlines flies and to book your “Bare Fare” ticket to a great destination!
With these weekend getaway budget tips, I encourage you to plan your next weekend getaway! I try to take one weekend getaway a month, trust me, it’s good for the soul! And if you stick with a budget, it doesn’t have to break the bank!
This post was sponsored by Spirit Airlines. As always on Ohio Girl Travels, all opinions and travel tips are my own!
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