Peter and I love to take weekend trips because you don’t have to use a bunch of vacation time from work but still get to have a little retreat. As always, though, we try to be mindful of our budget. Here are some ways we have found really affordable, fun weekend trips.
Camping and Rustic Cabins
Peter and I love to go camping. Most recently, we went to Yellowstone for our “camping-moon” after getting married last September. It was so much fun! I like to use websites like Reserve America or local state websites (usually through the Parks service) to search for available sites. Many campgrounds are not available to reserve in advance, though, so we will pick a few target sites and look for an available space same-day. We normally like to go during shoulder season when the kids are mostly back at school and the weather is still good. It’s also easier to find available cabins or yurts in the Fall, which is nice as the weather gets a little cooler.
The site fees are normally very reasonable, plus you save a lot of money by making your own meals and enjoying outdoor activities. Use my Essential Car Camping Checklist and Easy Camping Meal Ideas to help prepare for your trip!
We also love to use AirBNB for weekend trips. We took a “babymoon” earlier this year to the Pacific coast and rented an adorable little beachside cabin for two nights. It was so much more affordable than a hotel and had so much more charm. We really appreciate some of the unique experiences we’ve had this way, like the time we stayed on a tropical fruit farm in Hawaii. Fresh mango at our doorstep every morning!
We generally look for rentals that include the “Entire Place” and always read the reviews – you can learn a lot about some of the quirks of a rental that way. Many hosts will go out of their way to make your stay comfortable, offering baked goods or stocking the fridge with some essentials. Most places we’ve stayed in had small kitchens, too, so we were able to save money by making meals there.
I have had great luck using Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” tool to get affordable prices on high end hotels for a night or two. A couple of years ago, we went to a little resort town in the mountains for two nights and ended up with an amazing luxury suite for about half the list price. Many times I even book these same day.
I generally scope out list prices in advance in the area I want to stay. Although you could do this on one of many search sites (like Kayak or Expedia), I would recommend searching from Priceline’s website so you can see what properties they work with and have available. Sort them by star rating, so you have an idea of what to bid for. Then, when I bid for my own price, I usually start at about 60% of the list price. It can take some diligence, but I’ve always ended up finding a place that met my criteria at a deep discount.
Are there other tools you’ve used to find great deals on weekend getaways? Share them in the comments below!