How to plan a weekend trip on a budget

Wouldn’t it be great if you could travel, meet new people, broaden your horizons, and generally have a grand adventure without blowing a hole in your wallet (or selling your kidney for that matter)? Believe it or not, you actually can (no kidneys involved). Some savvy backpackers have the formula figured out – they manage to globetrot on an amount of money you typically spend in your city for daily living.

While you don’t need to globetrot (not unless you want to), you could still have an awesome weekend trip on a shoestring budget, spending no more than you would anyway at home. It requires some planning, clever workarounds, and a few minor sacrifices. Read on for our best tips for how to plan a weekend trip on a budget.

Pick a flight first instead of a destination

The typical travel process is this: You pick a destination you want to visit and then, hopefully, find a cheap flight to get there. We recommend flipping the script: Pick a cheap flight first to a likely-looking destination. It could save you hundreds of dollars.

Furthermore, even if the destination isn’t your first choice, that doesn’t make it a bad one. There are plenty of undiscovered gems out there. You can and will still have a good time.

Be creative with your food

Besides flights, food and drinks will be amongst your biggest expenses when you’re figuring out how to plan a weekend trip on a budget, reports GOBankingRates. You could reduce your spending by being creative with your food. For example, pick a hotel or hostel with free breakfast, skip lunch, and then splurge on dinner. If you’re looking to penny-pinch, you could cook your own food or try cheap supermarket meals.

Hunt for last-minute deals or check out “secret” deals

Online travel portals will often feature last-minute discounts – say when a particular flight or destination isn’t fully booked. It pays to scour these deals. You will have to be flexible, but you could snag a top-tier destination at a rock-bottom rate. Secret deals are also worth trying out. They often include stays in well-known hotels and resorts. You find out the exact details after booking.

Have a Saturday-Monday weekend off-season

How to plan a weekend trip on a budget

Avoid peak weekend prices by traveling Saturday to Monday

When demand is high, so are prices. When you’re figuring out how to plan a weekend trip on a budget, consider traveling from Saturday to Monday (people typically book flights and stay Friday through Sunday). Traveling off-season also helps. “Shoulder season”, says Real Simple, is a good time to travel because it offers good pricing, fewer people, and better access to destinations. It refers to the period between low and high seasons for a particular destination.

Look for cheap or free stays

It goes without saying – prioritize cheap stays whenever possible. If you don’t mind sharing a room, you could have a perfectly comfortable bed in a hostel for $20 per night. If you’d prefer a bit more privacy, you could also find an affordable Airbnb, hotel room, or similar. You should scour top sites (like for deals.

Image via Unsplash

Prioritize hostels with free breakfast, classes, and activities

Plan a weekend trip that includes activities to stick to your budget

Book accommodation that includes activities to stick to your budget

Hostels are usually a good idea not just because of the cheap room, but also the board. Many throw in free breakfast and allow you to cook food in the kitchen. Furthermore, some offer special classes and activities to travelers. These range from yoga classes to walking tours, and everything in between. Not only could you have fun, but you’d also save money.

Minimize touristy activities

They call them tourist traps for a reason. Many tourist-related attractions charge premium prices. You will also end up paying more for eating or shopping in a place that’s near a major tourist landmark. If you truly want to experience a destination as well as save money, consider living like a local.

Make a budget and stick to it

This is just like our first tip: Usually, people pick a destination and then decide on a budget. It may be a good idea to reverse that process when determining how to plan a weekend trip on a budget – make a budget first. Think up how much you’d be okay with spending on entertainment, food, travel, shopping, and similar. Then stick to your resolution. Too many people end up overspending because they don’t hold themselves to a budget.

Share your travels and potentially earn money

If you’re the especially entrepreneurial type, you could also monetize your travel. You’ve likely heard of travel blogging, vlogging, and similar. You will need to document your travels, take plenty of photos, and share it all with your viewers. At the very least, you could have some memories for later (something to show your grandkids).

Good-quality snaps on social media can help you attract followers (and generally make good memories). You may need to use a photo size editor to adjust the size of your images to fit a social media platform’s requirements. It’s as simple as uploading a snap from your phone or camera, having it resized, and then download it for use on the social media page.

Image via Unsplash

Planning a weekend trip on a budget – final thoughts

As you can see, traveling doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. Of course, when figuring out how to plan a weekend trip on a budget, you may have to forgo a few creature comforts, but you can still have a wonderful time. It’s a weekend well spent and will let you come back to work energized and refreshed. Don’t forget to follow these safety and general tips for the best results.

About the author

Patrick Young
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Patrick created Able USA to offer resources and advice to others with disabilities in an effort to help them navigate the various aspects of life as a person with a disability.
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