Frugal Vacations: Weekend Getaways That Don’t Break the Budget

Because most of us can’t take a two week vacation to Hawaii every season, I present some frugal ideas for those quick weekend getaways. The biggest expenses of the weekend getaway are usually the airfare and hotel charges. These ideas focus on limiting or eliminating those big charges.

Frugal Friends Are Friends Forever

Some of my favorite vacations have been to places where an old friend is now living, like my recent trip to Calgary. Most of us have a friend from our past that lives in a different city now. Truth be told, if they’re new to the city, they probably wouldn’t mind some company. After all, you said you’d go visit them when they moved away. Now is the time to take them up on their offer.

Mention to your friend that you are thinking of visiting the city and would like to know the best place to stay. They’ll likely offer up their pad for free. The weekend trip just got a few hundred dollars cheaper. Be sure to honor their generosity by picking up a few of the meals when you dine out.

Staying with a friend has plenty of non-economical advantages as well. You essentially have your own tour guide to the city. You’ll know the best places to dine, what things are worth seeing, and you’ll know the quickest way to get there.

A Frugal Camping We Will Go

Forget the long lines at the airport and the nickel and dime charges of the hotels. Break out the tent and go camping at your nearby State or National park. Some parks even have cabins, so you don’t even need a tent.

State park fees are usually extremely reasonable and the parks themselves are very well maintained. Your tax dollars go to build and maintain these parks; you might as well get some use out of them. We do this once or twice a year and have a blast every time.

Close Only Counts If Your Frugal

If camping isn’t your thing, then choose to stay at a hotel in either a city that you can drive to in a few hours or simply stay at a hotel in your own town. If you’re just looking for one night away from the kids, this can be the best option.

Take this opportunity to explore the town you live in and to discover new dining and entertainment spots. If you’re like me, there are hundred of places and attractions you haven’t seen in your own town.

Your best bet on a hotel is to look for deals at the high-end business sector hotels near downtown. These often go vacant on the weekends and prices drop considerably. You can usually get a nice hotel room for a decent price.

More Frugal By the Dozen

Have some really cool friends? Take your next quick getaway with them. I remember doing this as a kid with my parents and their friends and loved it.

Weekend rental houses and cabins can be had at the fraction of the cost of hotel rates per person. Carpool to get there, group your meals and activities, and your savings really start to increase. Be sure you plan only a few group activities and meals though. Leave some time open for just your spouse and kids.

Now you’re all set to plan your frugal weekend getaway.  Have fun!

Can you think of other ways to create a more frugal weekend getaway? Share your ideas in the comments below…

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About Philip Taylor, CPA

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of the personal finance industry conference and trade show, FinCon. He created this website back in 2007 to share his advice on money, hold himself accountable (while paying off over $75k in debt), and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence. He uses Personal Capital to track his wealth. All the content on this blog is original and created or edited by PT.


  1. Home and Family Info says

    Great ideas,
    I line in Ontario Canada and we have some great Provicial Parks for camping. Getting up north in the wild – well semi-wild is great. Lilarney Provincial Park has many great leaks for canoing and fishing. It’s very peaceful and not very expensive

  2. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts.
    You have a great Blog!!! I just added you to my Google News Reader.
    Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. Thanks, Eric. I’m glad you like the tips. This was one of my favorite posts to write, mainly because I actually do all of these things regularly.

  4. I really like these tips – a gang of us recently drove up to Seattle for a weekend – by doing only a few of the things you recommend, we were able to have a blast while spending relatively little money.

  5. Thanks for your comment, Connie. Camping is great…it’s a shame it’s gotten too hot (for me) to do it here in Texas.

  6. These are good ideas. My husband and I love to camp out. Not only is it cheap, there is not much more romantic than toasting marshmallows and going for a midnight swim.

    Good point about the cabins too. Sometimes vacations are a lot more fun when you bring friends along!

  7. @tiffanie – thanks for your comments. sounds like a fun trip. homeade snacks always taste better anyway. have fun.

  8. Great ideas! 🙂 We are heading up north with my father-in-law and brother-in-law for a weekend at the family cabin. Gas is the biggest expenditure (5 hr drive, mostly freeway). We’ve got 4 wheelers up there that we take out on the trails for day trips, which cost very little to fill up, and I’m bringing lots of homemade snacks with us for the ride so we aren’t stuck eating junk from gas stations!

  9. Michelle H. says

    Just recently started reading your blog. Some great ideas here. We’re live here in Texas too. (close to Abilene) Glad to know someone else who likes PF as much as I do!