Tips for saving on a weekend trip

2013-04-17 08:45

Going away for a weekend is a great way to unwind and give yourself a well-deserved break from the same-old-same-old routine. 

However, weekends getaways can often end up being more expensive than expected. The main reason? Probably poor planning. 

Here are a few tips to keep in mind the next time you head away for a quicky: 

Eat in

Okay, okay, so getting to eat delicious food is a huge part of any weekend break, we get it. However, you needn't pay a fortune to do this. 

What we suggest is picking one meal you'll splash out on at a restaurant in your destination. If you're staying at a hotel or B&B, your breakfast will obviously be included, which leaves lunch or dinner.

However, if you're camping or doing self catering, keep costs even lower by treating yourself to a decadent breakfast, brunch or lunch, instead of dinner. 

For the rest of your meals, stock up on easy to prepare ingredients at the local grocery store: cheese, bread, cold meat and fruit, rounded off with a good bottle of wine is always, always a hit and leaves you filled and happy. Seek out a pretty spot to have a picnic, or indulge in the comfort of your accommodation - just remember to get some cutlery and paper plates! 

Self cater or camp

While you may be lucky enough to find fantastic hotel specials on the odd occasion, the truth is that you really do pay for the luxury of having people at your beck and call, no matter in which cosy corner of the country you find yourself. 

Save yourself more than a few cents by opting to stay in self catering accommodation, or if you're not averse to adventure, camping instead of booking into a hotel or B&B. This also allows you more freedom where meals are concerned. 

Go with a group

While going away with just your partner may seem like a romantic option, if you're on a shoestring, you may have to shift your expectations a little and allow a few more to join your trip. Travelling with a larger group can bring the per-person cost down dramatically, especially when it comes to accommodation, petrol and meals. 

Go somewhere close by

Next time you plan a weekend getaway, set yourself a radial limit of between 100km and 300km from your home and try finding a fresh spot to explore. By doing this, you will not only ensure that travel costs stay relatively low, but you will also be forcing yourself to discover incredible places you didn'teven know existed before. 

Avoid driving once you're there

Once you get to your destination, park your car and leave it parked for the remainder of your stay. Instead of driving to places of interest or shops prepare yourselves to walk, cycle or catch public transport. Of course this may not always be possible, but it will sure as nuts help keep petrol costs at a minimum. 

If you're going to a destination like the Kruger National Park where game/sightseeing drives are an integral part of the experience, set a limit on the hours and distance you want to drive per day. Instead of doing an 80km loop that will take most of the day to complete, keep close to your accommodation and spend some quality time in one spot - eg chill out with a flask of tea at a waterhole or have a picnic at one of the sights you set out to see.

Pack for all weather

Whenever you pack for a weekend break, make sure the following items are in your bag: a swimsuit, a jersey, a rain coat, a pair of slops, some warm socks and pajamas. Yup, it sounds pretty weird, but these are items that hasty travellers often overlook and also items that tend to come in handy when you least expect to use them.

If you have all these items, the chances that you will make an impulse (and often quite expensive) buy to satisfy a temporary weekend need is significantly lowered. 

Double check your toiletry bag

Forgetting to pack your face cloth, razor and tooth brush may not seem like a big deal, but, let's face it, having to spend money on items you already have at home just because you had a little travel brain fart, is pretty sucky. 

Instead, just take a second to double check your bathroom before rushing out the front door to make sure you didn't place your toothbrush back in its cup instead of in your toiletry bag. 

Do a digital detox, for data's sake

If you own a smart phone (other than Blackberry where data is part of the deal), you will know how exorbitant data costs are these days, especially if making use of social media like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram is part of your daily routine. 

Now, there will be the temptation to keep posting photos that illustrate how your weekend break has got to be the best one anyone EVER had, rather just don't. In the first place, it will eat all your data, which means you will just have to top up later in the month, which in turn probably means that you're spending more than usual. In the second place, no one will miss your updates. It's sad, but true... and also rather freeing. 

Instead, wait till you get back to work or home (or anywhere with wi-fi or free internet) and load a gallery/blog post with all your incredible pics in one glorious bout. 

Avoid peak weekends 

If saving money is your priority, school holidays and long weekends should rather be avoided. 

Also, if you're going anywhere along the coastline, summer accommodation rates are generally slightly higher, while winter is considered peak season in the bush, pushing prices up a little. Depending on where you're heading, make sure you pick a weekend that falls outside of the specific peak season. Other things such as sporting events, festivals and natural factors (e.g. crayfish season on the West Coast) should also be considered. 

Get a pet sitter

Instead of dropping your kitty and pooch off at the local kennels, ask a family member or friend to look after them for the weekend. If the person will be staying in your home, stock up on a few goodies for them to enjoy and offer to pay them a set amount for their efforts. This will still work out cheaper than having to cover the costs of a kennel stay. 

Read more on:    weekend escapes  |  travel south africa  |  travel tips  |  lifestyle

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