Going away for the weekend is a great budget travel option. Blogger Lindsay VanSomeren shares five tips to help Grownups take weekend getaways that are affordable, relaxing, and fun.
My husband and I recently celebrated our ninth anniversary. We’ve tackled a ton of challenges head on this past year and came out successful, and what better way to reward ourselves than to celebrate our anniversary in style?
Unfortunately, celebrating our anniversary doesn’t give us free license to do whatever we want. We’re still in a ton of debt from student loans, an auto loan, and a personal loan ($81K at last count), and with me supporting my husband while he’s back in school on a low income, money’s pretty tight.
The last thing we want to do is go into more debt for a fun celebration. (After all, we don’t want to be in debt forever.) Instead, we decided to research our options so we could still have a fun time without spending any more money than we could afford out-of-pocket from our savings.
Affordable Travel Tip #1: Stay Close to Home
It’s a big production to fly out of our hometown of Fort Collins, Colorado. We need to:
- Figure out a way to the nearest airport (an hour away)
- Pack conservatively to avoid high baggage fees
- Find a rental car.
There’s no point in going through all that trouble to stay for just a day or two. We’d also have to board our dog and find someone to take care of our cats, and then repeat the whole process to get back.
I’m not saying I’d never like to travel, but in this case, it’s easier just to stay close to home. We chose to go to Estes Park, a quaint little Rocky Mountain town with no ski resorts—and few other tourists, leaving the town almost completely to us alone.
Affordable Travel Tip #2: Stay at a B&B Off-Season
Most people think of B&Bs as stuffy accommodations that cater to older couples. I’m here to change your opinion, my friends!
We stayed at a B&B perched high on a hill overlooking Norman Rockwell-esque Estes Park. Compared to regular rates, our room was $20 cheaper per night because we stayed during the off-season, and we used our credit card rewards, so the cost was very manageable.
We had nearly exclusive access to a gigantic mountain lodge (more of a mansion). The owners lived off-premises, and before they left each day they left us a bottle of wine and a six-pack of local craft beer in the kitchen, with a note saying, “Help yourself!”
Each morning, the friendly owners came back and cooked us a fresh breakfast (included in our room rate). We had homemade Belgian waffles, sausage links, fresh fruit, and Denver omelets. No hotel experience could rival this B&B!
Affordable Travel Tip #3: Skip the Fancy Restaurants
I’m not a fancy lady. I’m an elbows-on-the-table, craft-beer drinking kind of girl who always had a problem keeping pristine white tablecloths clean in fine dining restaurants.
We’ve tried going the fancy anniversary dinner route before and all we ended up with were tiny portions—and a gigantic bill.
This time, we looked up reviews on Google and Yelp for cheaper (yet good) options, and found an awesome hole-in-the-wall, wood-fired pizzeria off the town’s main drag.
As people continuously shuffled in and out of the tiny building, we realized we’d found one of the best-kept local secrets. We’ll definitely be going back next time!
Affordable Travel Tip #4: Scope out Deals
I use Groupon religiously and have had a ton of awesome (cheap) meals and experiences locally. Unfortunately, Estes Park is tiny, and the range of Groupons offered didn’t exactly match what we were looking for.
Not to worry! We stopped by the visitor’s center in town and asked about deals. The attendant steered us to a local mountain outdoors shop, which had great deals on snowshoe rentals.
We each rented a pair of snowshoes and poles for $12 and headed out for a day exploring Rocky Mountain National Park. My husband had never been on snowshoes before, but he loved it. We had a fun time and found a new activity we both enjoyed. (Maybe we’ll need to start up another savings account for snowshoes!)
Affordable Travel Tip #5: Plan for Future Anniversaries
Maybe one day, when we’re out of debt with fully stocked savings accounts and decent salaries, we’ll be able to afford a nicer celebration. Honestly though, I can’t think of a better way to have spent our anniversary than our local adventure—except perhaps making it into a full-fledged week-long vacation.
As it is, we had a wonderful time without going into debt. The total for our three-day adventure was just under $400—something we’ve already easily paid off. Here’s to more anniversaries!
Lindsay VanSomeren is a freelance writer who has written for Making Sense of Cents, Listen Money Matters, and Untamed Science.
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While Society of Grownups hopes the information is useful, it’s only intended to provide general education. It’s not legal, tax, or investment advice, and may not apply or be useful to your specific financial situation. If you need recommendations geared to your personal financial situation, schedule time with a financial planner.