One of the most underutilized stress-relievers out there is the weekend trip. Quick, easy, and rejuvenating, the weekend getaway is one of the best ways to experience a destination without overdoing it. Unfortunately, people often pay too much for what should be a more financially-manageable trip. Here are a few ways to avoid that trap.
Don’t Accept Expensive Airfare
Many who travel just accept that airfare is prohibitively expensive. While your plane tickets may, in fact, be one of the most expensive aspects of any short weekend hop, they don’t have to break the bank. First and foremost, search for online deals on flights and vacation packages. However, instead of searching a specific airline’s website, try sites that pull data from dozens of flight search sites like Priceline.com, Google Flights, and Skyscanner to have the best chance of grabbing the best deal.
Another good tip is to search for flights in incognito mode (private browsing). This way, sites won’t be able to track your cookies and you’ll, in theory, receive a lower price at times.
Know How to Make Car Rentals Cheaper
Whether you’re flying to a destination and then renting a car, or simply renting a car to drive to your destination, car rental doesn’t have to be super expensive. Search for coupons, online cash backrewards, and deals at major companies like Enterprise, and smaller companies such as Thrifty and Fox - skip the extras like GPS navigation and satellite radio. Also, see if you can skip out on paying for the rental insurance. As Business Insider notes, your home auto insurance is likely to cover you, and many credit cards offer partial to full rental coverage.
If You’re Driving, Stock Up to Reduce Expenses
The more travel necessities you can purchase online in advance, the cheaper your trip is going to be. This is especially true for weekend road trips. Stocking up on cheap food, games, toys for the kids, toiletries, and more can save you bundles. If you do this, you won’t be forced to buy them on the actual trip where you’ll likely face exorbitant markups. Check sites like Coupons.com, and use deal-finding browser extensions to get all of your travel needs on the cheap.
Don’t Waste Your Cash on an Expensive Stay
Nowadays, staying in hostels or Airbnbs is often the cheapest way to house you and your friends or family on a short trip. But, remember: hotels don’t have to be expensive. Deals and coupons, such as those offered by Hotels.com, are everywhere these days. Also, did you know that you can negotiate your price? According to research, negotiations led to cheaper room rates in nearly 80 percent of cases. If you can’t seem to talk your way into a better price, do what NerdWallet suggests: just stay a few minutes further away from town.
Flexibility Above All Else
Your greatest tool in battling expensive vacations is flexibility -- both in terms of date and destination. If you have to go to a popular destination and it has to be this next weekend, of course it’s going to be expensive -- all the way around. It’s unavoidable. If you book in advance, however, everything from airfare to hotels and rentals and experiences will be cheaper. And if you choose lesser-known destinations or book popular destinations during the offseason, you can get away with a cheap weekend jaunt.
Whether you go with a friend, your family, or fly solo, there are few things better than a solid weekend getaway. The only way to make it better? Do it on the cheap.