How to make the most of your cheap weekend getaways

How to make to every penny count...

6 min read

Sometimes a quick budget break is a perfect remedy for the drag of the daily hustle. But, often what may start out as a low-cost trip can quickly become a lot pricier than expected. As the expenses involved in discovering a new destination start to add up, a short weekend away of eating Paella by the sea may leave you stuck with eating supermarket pesto and pasta for the rest of the month. Luckily for you, we have collated a list of pro traveller tips for making sure your cheap weekend getaway doesn’t break the bank.

Don’t: Travel During Peak Seasons

This is a near no-brainer but a total a game-changer when it comes to getting the most out of your money. By opting to travel outside of dates that coincide with school holidays like the Easter and Summer breaks, you can save a ton on your trip as prices shoot up significantly during these time spans. May and October are two of the best months to book an affordable weekend getaway as this is when prices tend to hit a low. As an added bonus, avoiding peak times means you won’t have to face as many long queues and will be more likely to score great deals on food, attractions and accommodation with businesses that are actively seeking out clientele during the off-season.

Do: Exchange Your Money Before You Travel

When travelling on a shoestring budget, there are few feelings worse than landing a bad deal on your currency exchange. In the excitement of booking a last minute weekend away, a lot of us make the rookie mistake of waiting until we get to the airport to swap our Pounds for Euros. This is a big no-no, as you’re almost guaranteed to be offered a less than decent rate simply because the bureau de changes there know that you have little other options. To make your budget stretch further, keep an eye on exchange rates in the run-up to your departure and, when the numbers look good, make the swap before you get to the airport.

Don’t: Fall for the Tourist Traps

As convenient as it may be, dining at restaurants located in the centre of a tourism hot spot is usually a recipe for disappointment. If you’re looking for a delicious, authentic meal and to make your budget stretch during your cheap weekend - eat as the locals do. Unlike restaurants targeted at hungry tourists, spots visited by residents usually have a much lower price point and use fresh local ingredients. Key indicators include a non-english menu and local diners. For extra money saving, opt for a set menu option and order a local wine.

Do: Say ‘No’ to the Big Red Bus

In almost every major destination in the world, you’ll be sure to come across a fleet of big red open top buses offering sightseeing tours around the city. Avoid these at all costs. You can gain just as much information and save significantly by seeking out a free walking tour. Usually led by local historians or just plain area enthusiasts this is a great way to find your bearings when you first arrive in your affordable weekend getaway city. While free, it is expected that you do carry some cash to use as a tip for your guide to show your appreciation.

Don’t: Take a Taxi

We all know that walking is the ultimate money saver, but when you’re only in town for a weekend it does make sense to find faster ways of getting around town. But, the fact is, Uber and Taxify’s can add up pretty quickly, which is why using public transport is a much wiser option. Yes, this can be intimidating, especially when there is little signage in written English. But fear not, in most destinations, locals are more than happy to lend a helping hand and appreciate when visitors are open to experiencing their transport system. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions, pointing at a map and smiling can be more effective than you think.

Do: Look for the Free Attractions

9 times out of 10, there are many attractions that can be visited without paying an admissions fee. To save on your spend, be sure to do some research in advance to find out what the entry prices look like before you arrive. If the main points of interest do charge, find alternatives. In many destinations, religious monuments like churches often feature beautiful interiors and have a lot of history behind them. Also look out for areas famed for their street art or discover a beautifully landscaped park to indulge in some good old people watching - sometimes the best things in life really are free.

Don’t: Spend More than You Need to

If you do choose to visit some paid attractions, a sightseeing pass will make a huge amount of difference to the amount of money you shell out doing so. Their benefit is that they charge a singular set fee to see multiple attractions for a much lower price than it would cost to pay an entrance fee for them all individually. Often, they include access to public transport too. These passes are usually available for a set period of 3, 5 or 7 days and can be purchased at a city’s main attractions or information centres. Major cities that offer this deal include Amsterdam, Vienna, Barcelona, Paris and Rome.

Do: Carry Your ID With You

Instinct may tell you to keep your passport tucked away in your hotel room safe, but keeping it with you as you explore your destination is a great way to score some extra discounts. If you’re under 26 or a student many attractions throughout Europe offer a significantly reduced entrance fee. Paris’ Louvre, for example, offers those under 26 with free entry, saving a hefty €16, which conveniently, is around the price of a 3-course set lunch menu at a local brasserie. If you don’t feel comfortable taking your passport out and about with you, a photocopy or photograph will also, usually, suffice.