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How To Plan a Weekend Getaway On a Budget

A small church in a small town in the South of England, UK found by plan on a weekend getaway
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As you can probably tell, I’m the type that’s always down for travel. No matter how near or far, I’ll take any opportunity to explore (preferably somewhere unfamiliar). So, getting to plan a weekend getaway, especially a budget-friendly one, is a great way to keep my explorer brain happy in-between bigger trips.

Recently, mini-roadtrips have been my favourite way to spend weekends. I love them because they give you a good taste of a place, but they don’t require tons of planning and they don’t need to be planned far in advance. They’re perfect for a quick recharge.

“The gladdest moment in human life is a departure into unknown lands.” – Sir Richard Burton

How to decide what style of weekend getaway you’re after

Need something relaxing? Want to submerge in some culture? Want to learn something? Listen to how you’re feeling and ask why you’re jumping at the thought of a weekend away. If you’re not sure what you’re up for, there’s a few questions you can ask yourself to narrow it down.

How’s life feeling?

However you’re feeling, the antidote will likely be the opposite feeling to put you back in balance. If life’s feeling a little stale, I’d prescribe an adventurous weekend. If life’s feeling too stressful, a relaxing break might be more suitable.

How do you recharge?

I’m a solid 50/50 when it comes to introversion and extroversion so this can swing both ways for me. Sometimes I need a room full of people and a party, sometimes I want quiet wanderings of streets alone.

You’ll likely know how you reset best, but consider if you need to push outside of your comfort zone. Maybe it’s a night at a cosy, quiet restaurant, maybe it’s partying the night away. Your decision.

What are you craving?

The last mini-getaway I did, I wanted to experience more of the places around where I live. When speaking to a friend from New Zealand, I realised I’d never visited any locations in England, despite living here my whole life. Being a tourist at home can be just as good as venturing across the world. So, we set out to explore some nearby towns and cities.

If you don’t have a particular intention in mind, here’s some ideas to get you thinking:

  • Culture
  • Entertainment
  • Food (who can blame you?)
  • Relaxation
  • Experience

Where should you go?

So you want to go somewhere… but where? That’s a big question, so let’s narrow it down.

Where are you willing to go?

Define the radius you’re willing to travel within. Are you willing to fly overseas? Would you rather drive somewhere local? Then, see which places pop up! You can just use Google Maps for this – I like to look for a bigger place to head towards, let the directions show you the route and then zoom in and see what’s on the way to plan stops on the journey.

How much time do you have?

Could you make it a long weekend? Or will you keep to just two days? This will influence where you’re going. You can get a good taste of a city in 48 hours. Of course, the longer you’re there the more you’ll settle in and the more you’ll get to explore, but never think a weekend isn’t enough time!

How big is your budget?

This will greatly narrow down your choices, so make sure you have an idea of what you’d like to spend and take accomodation, food, activities and transport into account.

Consider staying close to home

Like I said, it’s been a goal of mine recently, to explore at home. I’m considering it a mission to uncover the beautiful places on my doorstep.

As I said earlier, driving breaks are my new obsession. My most recent trip didn’t have a set itinerary. We were planning to stay at my friend’s place in London overnight, but during the day, we simply picked a direction and drove.

And we ended up walking the beautiful streets and fields of Arundel, finding quaint antique shops, small castle buildings, churches and cathedrals. We then continued driving, had a pub lunch in Chichester, explored their outdoor Christmas markets and then headed up to London for the night. Nature walks, castles, a pub lunch and a market. Very British.

The next day we headed into Greenwich, explored Greenwich Markets, saw the Cutty Sark (which is a magnificent ship and well worth a look at!), climbed the hill to the Royal Observatory of Greenwich for some wonderful views of the city and went ice skating (ticked that off my winter bucketlist) at the National Maritime Museum. I detailed each of these places in more detail in my post ‘The Best Things To Do In Greenwich, London‘. If you get the chance to visit, I’d definitely recommend it.

Why travelling at home is great:

  • Lower transportation costs
  • With less travel time, you’ll have more time to explore
  • No pesky packing problems!
  • Learn to love where you live

Consider going away – a weekend exploring somewhere else

That said, we know I love travel and I’d never turn down the chance to hop the next plane or train to somewhere I’ve never been. But what can you do in one weekend? Loads!

If you can plane or train to it in less than three hours, then I’d you can do it in a weekend. Try to get an early flight on the Saturday (or on the Friday night if you can) and a late flight back on the Sunday (just not too late if you have work the next day) to maximise your time.

Get excited and do your research!

Now you’ve got some ideas, do some research and whip up a quick, simple budget. 

Save money on your getaway by:

  • Spending time finding the best deal for accommodation and transportation
    • Sometimes it can be better to go for package plans, sometimes it’s better to book travel and accommodation separate, so look at your options
    • Drive whenever you can!
    • Trains tend to be cheaper (and more enjoyable, I think) than flights, so remember this is an option – for travelling Europe, I use Eurail, I always find they have the best deals
  • Booking in advance or very last minute (when you’ll get the best deals!)
  • Opt for cheaper accommodation – hostels are great. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a hostel person, if you’re only staying for a night, it’s a great way of saving money and many hostels are very central and really well facilitated.
  • Try finding city-break deals on sites like Groupon or Secret Escapes
  • Get accommodation with a kitchen and cook yourself! If you’re driving somewhere, fill the car with food from home (I always bake a banana bread for the drive)

Then, narrow down your choices and take your pick.

Whoop, you’re booked!

Now, it’s time to get excited, your weekend is coming up.

Before you go on your weekend getaway

Plan as much as you can before you go! Not only is it nice to have something to look forward to, but it’ll help you make the most of your time when you get there and avoid disappointment of not booking things in advance. Although it can be lovely to travel in an itinerary-less fashion, even having a vague plan and some knowledge about where you’re heading will help you skip the queues, pass on the tourist traps and make the most of your time.

No matter how busy you are, travel can always fit around your routine. Weekend getaways can be a godsend and with options for every style, time and budget, there’s no excuse! Where’s your next adventure?

Happy travelling! (Check out the pictures from our little South of England adventure below)

Love, Ella-Rose xx

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    • Ella-Rose

      Hi Miles, thanks so much for your kind words 🙂 I’d love to have you visit again, I upload every Monday, Wednesday and Friday!

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