This year, due to work schedules and budgeting for a really amazing trip in a couple of years, our family opted not to do a full vacation. Instead, we are taking a long weekend away in Washington, D.C. for a break from the norm and a little family fun. Though the budget for a weekend trip is naturally much lower than a long vacation, I still spent time finding ways to make our trip even more inexpensive. Here are a few of the ways that I was able to keep our costs low while making the most of our getaway.
- Consider locations carefully – When looking for a short, affordable getaway, location is one of the most important factors to consider. Locations within a few hours’ drive are the best bet, as flight costs for a family can add up quickly.
- Choose an off-time to visit – Traveling during a slower or off season for the area can reduce the cost for accommodations, as well as keep crowds down. You’ll be able to see more in a short time when you aren’t standing in lines and fighting peak season traffic.
- Shop around for hotels – Take time to compare hotel prices for a great deal. There are dozens of sites available that offer great prices on hotels and many will price match, even after purchase. Be sure to carefully check all of the included amenities of each deal, as some may change for the same hotel on a different travel site. Don’t forget to check the travel section of your warehouse shopping membership site, as well. There are often some surprising deals available.
- Take advantage of loyalty programs – Book with your banked loyalty points for hotel chains or purchase with your affiliated credit card to earn points for your stay. Also check your bank for cash-back offers on hotels and travel for cardholders.
- Choose hotels with freebies – It may save you more in the long run if you spend a few dollars more on a hotel that offers free breakfast or free parking. Do the math on estimated expenses and see if a hotel that offers these things for free at a higher per-nite rate is “cheaper” than a lower priced stay plus food and/or parking rates.
- Look for local events and free attractions – Fill your time with visits to local free and low-cost museums and landmarks for affordable fun. Visiting during local festivals can also be a fun experience that will help you to avoid spending money on expensive amusement parks and tourist traps.
- Search local deals sites – Sites like Groupon and Living Social have a plethora of deals for local restaurants and attractions. Just be sure to read the fine print for any exclusions or blackout dates.
- Pack snacks and treats – Especially if you are driving, pack a cooler of drinks, snacks, and treats to keep from paying the high price of concessions at popular attractions or marked up prices in the hotel shop. Three dollar bottles of water can break your budget quickly!
Do you enjoy taking weekend getaways with your family? What do you do to keep things affordable?