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How to Have a Fun, Memorable Weekend Trip on a Budget

Posted on Oct 29th 2018

Jim McKinley

time-lapse photography car lights on bridge

Just because summer is over doesn’t mean that vacations have to stop. Most people have weekends off, so taking a short weekend trip can happen any time of the year. But how do you afford a weekend trip without having to budget it like a big vacation? After all, it should be a getaway, not an elaborate holiday. Let’s break down the typical vacation expenses and how to make them cheaper:

Lodging  

There’s always a deal somewhere for hotels, especially in locations that aren’t as busy. Rather than splurging on a popular five-star hotel, try one of the lesser-known spots that are trying to fill up rooms for the night. If you’re a risk-taker, use Hotel Tonight to find last-minute rooms at big discounts. Airbnb and VRBO are other options for large groups who want an entire place to stay in together. Singles and couples can also book a private room in someone’s house for less money than a hotel room -- as long as you’re okay sharing a house with the owners. Another option is to rent an RV, which will cover both your lodging and transportation expenses in one fell swoop.

Transportation

Transportation typically involves a plane ticket, car rental, and gas. If your vacation destination is close, drive your own car, especially if you’re bringing your family along for the ride. A few tanks of gas are much cheaper than four round-trip flights and a weekend car rental. But if you’re trying to maximize vacation time by flying, you can use points for flights, get AAA discounts on your car rental, and book travel through companies like Expedia.

Pet Sitting

Since 68 percent of US households own a pet, most vacationers will need to find a sitter for those pets -- or at least the ones who don’t plan to take their pets with them on vacation. Dogs take up more space and require more care than most pets, so you’ll need more than just a food timer to get them through the weekend. Hire a dog sitter to look after your pet, or send them to boarding care. You can find affordable pet care through online pet service sites where you can locate a sitter or boarder that fits your price.

Food

Not everyone cares about trying local cuisine when they visit a new place. If this is you, you can save money by making a grocery stop before you check in for the weekend. You don’t need to eat every meal out, especially if you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen. Cook your own meals or snack on nutritional non-perishables such as jerky, fruit, nuts, granola bars, and vegetable chips.

Activities and Sightseeing

National Parks are the most affordable ways to experience natural beauty on a budget. Check out the Rio Grande, Big Thicket in Beaumont, or Amistad in Del Rio. Amusement parks offer fun for the whole family, and it’s easy to find online discount tickets to a Six Flags park in Texas.

There are budget-friendly things to do in every major city of Texas. Check out the Discovery Green Park or the stunning Water Wall in Houston. Go on a mural tour around Austin, or visit the Saxon Pub or Zilker Park for live music. Bike or walk around White Rock Lake in Dallas or stroll through the urban Klyde Warren Park. Walk along the Riverwalk in San Antonio, or visit the Alamo.

Souvenirs

Don’t fall for the souvenir trap. Most tourist shops sell overpriced and generic items. If you must have a memento, take a picture in front of each landmark or buy a unique item from a local boutique or artist. A handmade item that signifies the town’s culture is better than mass produced junk with a city’s name on it.

Now that you’ve covered all the bases, it’s time to plan your budget-friendly trip. Don’t let a trip stress you out more by spending too much money on it. This weekend getaway is supposed to relax you, not make you feel regret and worry. Use your resources and imagination to make this the best weekend of the year.

Photo Credit: Unsplash