Four Tips for Budget Weekend Getaways

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Take out a map of your region and draw a circle with a radius of about 300 miles from your home.

Look for a place or maybe two places to visit within the circle.

It sounds arbitrary, but you'll thank yourself all weekend.

These short trips are not designed for hectic itineraries or lengthy drives. Spending eight hours in the car going and coming back effectively cuts your four-day getaway down to two.

Beyond limiting the distance you drive, consider these other itinerary tricks:

Have a backup plan. Be ready to switch destinations quickly if weather or other short-term problems crop up. The beauty of staying closer to home is that plans can be changed with fewer hassles.

Map out your trip. Some travelers fall into a tempting trap when the distances are short--they fail to plan their routes. Even if a destination is fairly familiar, know precisely where you want to go and when to avoid wasting precious time and money.

Try to stay in the same hotel for at least two nights. The longer you stay, the more negotiating power you acquire. After all, those are nights the innkeeper will not risk having an empty room. Don't be shy about asking for special treatment when booking a multiple-night stay.

Establish priority activities and make those arrangements first. If the museum exhibit you want very much to visit is only open Saturday afternoon, don't find yourself elsewhere at that time. Short trips provide fewer opportunities for correcting such mistakes.

Discover the most expensive parts of the trip and weigh the merits of each. Is a central hotel with all the amenities really important? If not, you can save quite a bit of money on that one item. Do your hotel search with location in mind.

Budget travelers don't want to spend a penny more for gasoline than necessary. Click "next" below and look at ways to save on the transportation costs of your long weekend.
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