Getaway Compass

How to Plan a Getaway on a Budget

Monument Valley Road Trip

Planning a trip on a budget is possible if you know how and where to save money. A getaway can be a short road trip nearby, a weekend relaxing on the beach, or a two week trip to South America. Either way, taking a getaway from work on a budget is possible, and there are many ways you can save money on your trips so you can travel more. This guide will walk you through how to plan a getaway on a budget, from choosing your destination to booking your flights and accommodation.

1. Choose Your Destination

Road Trip

Reduce the cost of flying somewhere by choosing a location that you can drive to. Road trips are the best way to explore on weekends while saving on a flight. One of the benefits of a road trip is that you already have your car with you so you have no need to rent a car. The other perk of a road trip is that you can pack a lot more. This can save you money at your destination since you can bring food and drinks with you.

Domestic Weekend Getaway on a Budget

There are so many incredible destinations for weekend getaways in the United States, from vibrant cities to breathtaking national parks. For weekend getaways consider going to a nature destination where most activities are free, versus an expensive city where many sights and activities cost money. If you decide to travel to a city, learn how to use their public transportation so you don’t have to spend extra money on a rental car or Uber. 

Joshua Tree National Park
National Parks offer great weekend getaway destinations

International Getaway on a Budget

International travel can be a lot cheaper than people think, as long as you can get the cost of the flight down. There are often international flight deals where you can get flights for as low as $200, and sometimes for less than domestic destinations. The cost of a vacation varies widely depending on where in the world you are going. For example, Western Europe can be very expensive but there are affordable accommodations such as hostels. Southeast Asia is a great budget destination, where in most places you can get a meal for less than $5 and a room in a hostel for less than $10. South America is closer to the US so it is a great option to save flight time, and it is significantly cheaper once you get there than traveling domestic in the US. Make a list of places that you are interested in going to, and then choose your destination based on the best flight deal.

2. Find Cheap Flights

Google Flights

If you are looking to plan a getaway on a budget, you can use Google Flights to find flight deals. It is easier to find a flight deal if you are open to different dates and destinations. Google Flights allows you to search specific dates while keeping your destination open, or a specific destination while keeping your dates open. This allows you to find the best deal and helps you plan your vacation on a budget. If you have specific dates and a location set, you can sign up for flight alerts and google will notify you when the price drops. Some countries that often have flight deals from the United States are: Italy, Spain, Ireland, France, England, Iceland, Germany, Netherlands, Japan, China, and Colombia. Sometimes you can find cheaper international flights than domestic flights since the deals are better.

Great Wall
China often has great flight deals from the US. We went during Thanksgiving for $410!

Scott's Cheap Flights

The easiest option to find cheap flights is to get cheap flight alerts directly to your email! I highly recommend signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights and I have been subscribed to their email list for a few years now. There is a free version where you will still get some deals, but I recommend signing up for the the premium version where you will get all the flight deals they find and it only costs $49/year. You can select which areas you are interested in flight deals from so that you don’t get endless emails. Once you receive a flight deal that works for you make sure to act fast and search in google flights to find the best dates.

For more details, continue to our article How to Find Cheap Flights.

3. Book Your Accommodation

Tips for Booking Accommodation in the US

One of the tricks for booking a getaway on a budget is to reduce your spending on accommodation. Always consider starting your weekend road trip early in the morning instead of the night before so that you can save one night of accommodation. If you arriving late at night or flying out early in the morning look into staying near the airport for that night, as hotels near the airport are typically cheaper than hotels in the city or near a national park. Hotels.com, booking.com, and Hotel Tonight all have great last minute deals on hotels in cities. Make sure to check hotels.com coupon codes as they typically have extra discounts available on their website. 

Airbnb is a great option in the United States and can often be cheaper than hotels. There are a huge range of Airbnb options varying from a room with a shared bathroom to an entire house. If you are only two people, you can often find a bedroom and bathroom suite for cheaper than nearby hotels. If you are more than two people, you can usually find an entire space such as an apartment for cheaper than multiple hotel rooms. If you are planning to book with Airbnb make sure to book early before the good options sell out (1-2 months before is ideal). Always read the reviews and description closely so there are no surprises.

Tips for Booking Accommodation International

Booking.com is a great option for booking hotels, guesthouses or hostels. Hostels are a great, cheap option especially when traveling alone or with only one other person. There are many new hostels throughout Europe that are really comfortable. Consider looking at guesthouses and hostels on booking.com in addition to Airbnb. In some countries there are already well established guest houses on booking.com that are cheaper than Airbnb.

Airbnb abroad can be a good option especially in areas where there are less hotels or only very expensive hotels, like Amalfi Coast in Italy. If you would like a host that speaks English, make sure to check their languages under their information.

For more information on the best sites to book your accommodation, continue to our article: Best Sites for Booking Your Stay

Tuscany Airbnb
Airbnb in Italy

4. Spend Less At Your Destination

You can plan a getaway on a budget by reducing how much you spend at your destination on things such as transportation, activities, and food. 

Transportation

Research the cost of various transportation options such as renting a car, parking costs, busses, trains, and flights. In some countries train and bus tickets can add up to cost more than a rental car (For example: Italy and Spain). Learn the public transportation options before your trip so you can save money at your destination and use the metro or busses instead of paying more for taxis. 

Activities

Make sure to research what you want to do before your trip so that you can do activities on your own and not have to pay for tours. Search online to see if there are any deals such as Groupons to save money on activities. Balance out free activities with paid activities to reduce costs. Many museums have student discounts, so make sure to bring your student ID with you and check the ticket prices for student discounts.

Temecula Weekend Getaway Itinerary

Food

Try to save money on food by bringing enough snacks with you during the day so that you can skip lunch. Save money on breakfast by purchasing food at a grocery store such as bread, bananas, and yogurt. If you have a kitchen, try to opt for cooking dinner instead of going out to eat. If you decide to eat out try to find cheaper local places, you will get a more authentic experience for less.

Travel Medical Insurance

Things can go wrong while traveling, so getting appropriate coverage can save you a lot of money. SafetyWing offers affordable, flexible, and reliable travel medical insurance. SafetyWing can be purchased when you are already traveling and there is no cap on the duration. This travel medical insurance provides coverage for unexpected medical problems and accidents while you are traveling.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links for products and services I recommend. At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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