Enjoy Three-Day Weekends on a Shoestring Budget

RelayRides blogger Amanda L. Grossman shares tips for enjoying the upcoming MLK and Presidents’ Day three-day weekends without breaking the bank.

Last fall my husband and I enjoyed a three-day weekend for a total of $167.74. It was not glamorous by many people’s standards—we went camping along the Guadalupe River—but it sure was a lot of fun. Driving 3.5 hours away from the city and into nature to pitch a tent, cook our own food, and take in the beautiful surroundings cost just $12 per night per person. We floated down the Guadalupe River on tubes the next day for several hours at $15 per person, and brought along our own food and beverages from home (plus ice and extras like s’mores). It was the perfect length of time to unwind from the daily grind.

Now that the holidays are out of the way, you might be daydreaming about your own three-day weekend getaway. Let me show you how to make it happen on a shoestring budget, even if camping is not your cup of tea.

Prepare Meals when Possible

With camping, preparing your own meals is somewhat of a necessity. But you can also use this method to cut down on the cost of any three-day weekend. For example, you could prepare a meal for the car ride to your getaway location. Pack an ice chest with pre-made sandwiches (keep the condiments separate until eating time), a tray of cheeses/crackers/fruits, or any other meal you’d like to enjoy on the way there.

Another idea is to incorporate a picnic lunch into your three-day adventure by either bringing the food with you in an ice-chest, or purchasing supplies from a local grocery store before heading out to a park, monument, or other beautiful backdrop.

Finally, you can plan to cook for most of your trip by finding a home to stay at with a kitchen on websites such as Airbnb. Take turns cooking with your other family members, friends, or whomever is on the trip.

Look for Alternatives to a Hotel

You may rack up hotel reward points by staying in a hotel, but you will also rack up a large bill. Check out sites like Airbnb and VRBO where you can do Person-to-Person (P2P) renting and stay in an actual person’s home. Besides the cost savings, you will enjoy amenities that hotels simply cannot offer.

Another option is to housesit for someone while they are away for the weekend. In college I found several people to housesit for who lived within an hour of our campus. Not only did I get to stay in their home and play with their pets (on top of feeding, walking, etc.), but they also paid me to do it! You can find house sitters for the area you wish to visit through websites like MindMyHouse.com.

Search for Location-Specific Coupons and Discounted Gift Certificates

Before you leave for your trip, browse the internet for location-specific coupons that will cut costs. You can start by searching social buying sites such as Groupon and Living Social. Go to the website of any attractions that you want to see and look for coupon offers to print out. Check out Restaurant.com to purchase gift certificates to local eateries discounted at around 50% or more. For extended stays, you can even purchase an Entertainment book for the area.

Rent Someone’s Vehicle

Do you need to rent a vehicle for your getaway? Instead of renting from costly traditional car rental sites, try a Person-to-Person (P2P) rental with RelayRides. Rental costs are typically 20-40% lower than traditional car rental places charge, and you are keeping your dollars in your own community.

Use Your Grocery Store Gas Rewards

Does your grocery store offer gas rewards? Several chains across the nation offer gas discounts associated to your loyalty card. For example, using Shell’s Grocer Rewards program, I receive 100 points each time I spend $100 at my grocery store (Kroger’s). For each 100 points, I get 10¢/gallon off at the pump (maximum 35 gallons per visit).

Well, what are you waiting for? It’s time to plan out that three-day weekend getaway in a way that maximizes your fun and minimizes your expense.