Frugal Living Let's Talk Travel

Cheap Weekend Escapes

by Shadra Bruce

When your budget is shot, your kids are bored, and you just need an escape, it’s time to think outside of the box! Here are some fun ideas for a getaway that won’t break the bank.

Spring is here, and lots of people are dreaming of hitting the road. Everyone likes to get out of town for a weekend now and then, if for no other reason than to enjoy room service and an indoor heated pool with no beds to make the next day. With fuel costs becoming the most expensive part of travel, why not book a room at a local hotel?

Whether you and your family do nothing but laze by the pool for the weekend or literally become tourists in your own town, this is a fun and inexpensive option for a weekend getaway. Bonus: no getting lost or having to ask for directions to get where you want to go.

If even the thought of a hotel bill is more than you want to contemplate, arrange a weekend house swap with a friend or family member in a nearby town. They’re probably just as eager as you to get away for a weekend. A little planning on your part and they’ll feel like it’s a hotel, too: put out fresh towels, put fresh sheets on the beds and leave a gift basket of fresh fruit in the entryway.

Have a vacation at home! Wake up and leave the beds unmade and the dishes in the sink. Cancel all the weekend chores, order out for pizza, rent a movie, and make some popcorn.

OK, so this is not the same as gallivanting off to Paris for the weekend, but it beats hearing “I’m bored” one more time, and the change of pace can lead to a change of attitude!


Staycations: Big City Exploring

Exploring a nearby city can be a great, less expensive alternative to a weekend getaway. A day away from home, however, can be a catastrophe without some planning. Whether you’re flying in to an unknown city or just catching the bus to your local town, there are certain items no explorer should leave home without. The most important item is sunscreen. If you plan to spend more than 30 minutes outside, pack a bottle of the stuff and plan to reapply throughout the day. If you’re going to be rubbing sun lotion in – and for any number of sticky reasons – also pack a box of baby wipes.

You’ll be walking a lot, so make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes. If you’ll be in a rainy city or in inclement weather, an extra pair of socks in the bag is a good idea. Wear comfortable clothing and dress in layers, so you can adapt to changing temperatures throughout the day. Don’t forget a jacket and an umbrella.

Not only will you appreciate having the free hands, but wearing a fanny pack can protect your money and credit cards from being stolen as you walk through busy and perhaps unfamiliar streets. Use the fanny pack to store cash, credit cards and lip balm. Stow the rest of your explorer gear in a back pack.

Little explorers should have a map and compass. Most cities have maps you can print from your home computer. You can buy inexpensive compasses for your school-age child and let them help guide the exploration. If you are bringing along little kids, don’t forget the stroller. Bottles of water, sandwich baggies stocked with pretzels and other snacks and a camera, and you’re ready to explore!