How to Plan a Weekend Trip for Under $500

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On a budget but also want to get away? Let’s say you have a budget of $500 to spend for the weekend. How do you plan a weekend trip for that amount? Well, here is how!

Image shows a beach with text that reads "You can afford vacation: how to plan a trip for less than $500"

Back in the day, having the money to travel was just a distant dream, but honestly, you don’t need to be rich to travel.

Set aside $500 over a few months to make sure you have some wiggle room in your budget, and then make the decision that you will travel, even if it’s only for a weekend.

How to Plan a Weekend Trip for Under $500

Plan in advance

You need to do a little research. Find out how much what you want to do costs if you purchase tickets or make reservations in advance versus at the gate. Airfare is a really good example of this. Sometimes getting tickets 6-8 weeks in advance can knock hundreds of dollars off your price tag. (read how to get the best prices on airfare.)

Decide if you’ll fly or drive

Photo shows two small children running down the jetway to an airplane

It’s crazy how inexpensive you can get a plane ticket for these days. Make sure you check out plane prices before you decide to drive (I like to use Google Flights). Sometimes a plane ticket and renting a car can be way cheaper than driving your own car, especially if you’re flexible on date and/or able to travel during the week.

It’s just for a weekend, so remember it doesn’t have to be crazy expensive. This is especially true if you’re traveling solo vs. with a family, but can still hold true for families. For instance, we can routinely get round trip airfare from Dallas to Denver for $49. Ski trip anyone?

Look up a budget hotel or an Airbnb

The next step to planning a weekend trip for under $500 is to make sure you have a place to stay. For the most part you’ll only be sleeping here, so it’s not like you need a super fancy place to sleep. Look up a budget hotel or an Airbnb. You may be surprised as to how cheap an Airbnb really is. Sometimes an Airbnb can be rented for $15 a night. And if you really want to get adventurous, there’s always camping!

Head to the grocery store

Photo shows three tacos on a white plate

Something awesome to think about is how cheap you can get food for your family or for yourself. As fun as it is to eat out for every meal, this is really where you spend the most money. Set a food budget for $100 for the whole weekend. This gives you the opportunity to eat well without going bonkers. Choose one meal where you will eat out, but just remember you’re on a budget. Look on their website for their daily deals, before you go. You can also check out Groupon to see if there are any awesome deals on food.

Now, I don’t know about you, but for me, part of the thrill of traveling is trying local cuisine. However, I have learned that that doesn’t necessarily mean eating out. Sometimes buying local favorites at the store and cooking them yourself is all you really need. For instance, if you’re from an inland area and traveling to the ocean, you can buy seafood and cook it yourself. It’s still a treat!

Do all the free things

Photo shows Elise with her child at a waterfall

Every town has free things to do. Even if you walk around and enjoy the fresh air of a new town, it’s free. Check out the parks, landscaping, window shop, and so one. Just the act of getting away and doing something different can be the most relaxing thing. While $500 won’t allow you to a ton of frivolous activities, you can choose one or two things to do as a family. Just be smart about what you decide to spend.

Planning a weekend budget trip for $500 means you get to travel. Yes, you may need to say no to some stuff, but that’s okay! You’re making memories and getting some time to relax and that’s what matters. Plus, not going into debt for a trip feels so good!

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