Frugal overnight vacations

Get Away on the Cheap

by Elaine Snyder


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Do you feel frazzled and find yourself daydreaming about vacations on the beach, only to watch the dream dash on the rocks because you remember your bank log entries? You need to get away. But how? Read on, trooper. This is your lucky day. For nine years, my husband and I have lived on one meager income from a non-profit agency. We are experienced at having a cultured night away at less than $100. Here are some great tips to bringing your dreams to reality:

  1. Lodging: Online research is fabulous. If you don't have a computer, go to the library. Look up motels and bed and breakfasts for the area that you would like to visit. Most cities or tourist attractions have websites dedicated to lodging. Motels can be cheap, and if you can see a room online, you know it's clean. B&Bs often have several levels of price, and if you don't mind an attic or basement room, these can be great and quaint. B&Bs also offer great hospitality and can share insight into tourist attractions. Want even cheaper? Go in the summer and bring a tent. For less than, $20 you can sleep the night away. Even better, find an old friend who might be willing to let you spend the night for free.

  2. Food: When we leave early in the day, my husband and I always pack a lunch to eat on the road. I always pack snacks to eat so I won't feel like I have to buy food instead of paying my way into a museum. If we plan to be alone for some romance at night, we often bring some sparkling juice (or whatever your romantic choice of drink might be), little cups, some yummy chocolates or fruit. You get the picture. Throw a blanket on the floor and you have yourself a picnic without having to order out. For eating out, we pick a cheap place online before we leave, bring the directions, and eat there for dinner. To get a taste of the good life at expensive restaurants, eat there for lunch and save a load of cash.

  3. Entertainment: Again, research online. A lot of museums have hours where you can get in half price, or simply offer a donation. How about a stroll in a lovely garden? Go to the right B&B and you might have this in the backyard, or if you ask at your lodgings, someone might be able to direct you to a lovely park with beautiful, romantic gardens. Find a little theater tucked away on a side street, and chances are you'll find an affordable evening out, especially if it's a show that's been around for a while. If you can manage a night out during the week, a lot of cities and towns have Thursday night concerts in the park for free. If you check their calendar online, you can find out what group or type of music is featured each week. Look into local non-profit groups that conduct historic tours of old homes or places of interest. We are also fond of the state parks. They have great sightseeing, swimming, hiking, history, and fun. Even window-shopping can be nice, just walking the downtown strip of historic villages, then stopping for a cup of coffee at a local shop. Also, if you can spend a little more, look for special packages offered by local B&Bs or low-priced hotels that give you a deal on tickets to shows, pro sports games, and restaurants.

The key is to research the freebies. I always bring directions, addresses and phone numbers printed off the web so we don't waste our precious time driving around all night. Folks, the weekend get away can be yours for about $100 or less, depending on your tolerance for lodgings. Heck, my hubby and I slept on the floor at a friend's empty apartment once! Free, free, free is all we cared about when it meant a little time to be alone.

Take the Next Step:

  • For all of your traveling needs, check out Expedia.com
  • Find an affordable bed and breakfast within your price range
  • Subscribe to Surviving Tough Times email newsletter. Each week we'll give you practical survival tools for a challenging economy!

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