About five years ago, I was able to surprise my husband with a little getaway adventure to a historic B&B in Stillwater, MN, about a half-hour from our home. As we got off the highway and caught a glimpse of the river and quaint main street downtown, it felt like we’d traveled to another world. After an amazing dinner at a wine bar, a relaxing night at the B&B, a multi-course breakfast in bed (delivered by picnic basket), and a morning walking around the shops downtown, we felt rested, refreshed, and reconnected to one another. We were back home by Saturday afternoon feeling like we’d fit an entire vacation into one 24-hour period.
That trip helped us realize how important (and fun!) it is for our relationship to get out of the house now and again. We’ve now made a trip to this B&B an annual getaway, and we started another tradition of staying at our favorite luxury hotel right next to the Mall of America. It’s just 10 minutes from our house, but the accommodations make us forget the worries of our everyday lives. In both cases, we use our time away to slow down, catch up, and really rest … and it’s worth every penny.
Ready for a weekend getaway of your own? Follow the tips below:
· Take to the Road: While a weekend getaway can involve a plane trip, it doesn’t have to. In fact, if you are looking to keep it frugal and maximize time spent at location, not the airport, a quick drive gives you time to decompress and refocus before diving into your time away.
Tip: It’s the details that make a weekend getaway special. Before my husband and I head out, I usually go to the grocery store to pick up some healthy, fun road trip snacks, and my husband will create a special playlist with music to match the landscape.
· Circle Your Neighborhood: Look at a map and draw a radius around your house. I recommend sticking within an hour’s drive for a one-night stay, or a three-hour drive for a whole weekend away. Take a look at everything within that circle. Are there places you’ve been meaning to visit but haven’t? Any fun city or rural escapes? Any hotels you’ve always wanted to stay in?
Tip: Make sure wherever you go feels like a change of pace from normal life. Live in the ‘burbs? Escape to the city! Spend all week working downtown? Shoot for that quaint small-town feel.
· Capitalize on Friday Night: In most luxury “couples getaway” type hotels, Saturday is the most expensive night. Do your best to center your getaway on Friday night since you’ll get a way better deal. Even if you have to take Friday afternoon off to make it work, it will be well worth the time off to lessen the price tag (and get an even longer weekend away).
Tip: Headed into the city to stay at a hotel that’s popular with business people? Business hotels work a little differently. In this case, you’ll want to avoid weekdays (Sun-Thurs.) and capitalize on the cheaper weekend fares. Not sure if your hotel or B&B is a haven for business travelers? Take a quick gander at pricing throughout the week to see if it’s more expensive during the work week or on weekends.
· Save on Your Stay: If you’re a loyalty brand consumer, using hotel points to cover your stay or help you upgrade to a nicer room can make a weekend getaway more affordable. If you aren’t, consider joining a program. If you’re intentional about staying with the same brand of hotels and including your rewards number when you stay, you’ll be amazed at how fast the points can accrue.
Tip: If a hotel in the city isn’t your scene, consider getting back to nature instead. Opt for a campsite at the beginning or end of the camping season — you’ll have less competition for a spot, less noise, and (depending on where you live) fewer bugs.
· Good Things Come to Those Who Wait: Especially in the off season, you can find some really awesome last minute deals at pricier hotels, resorts, and B&Bs. Have a place you’ve been longing to stay at? Join their email list — if they have one — so you can get a heads up on any discounts or last minute deals.
Tip: Just because you’re booking your hotel last minute doesn’t mean you should finance the trip last-minute too. Estimate your costs and save up for a few months so you can jump on a deal guilt-free.
· Make One Great Meal a Highlight: Outside of housing, food is often the most pricey item in your weekend getaway budget. Pace yourself: Make reservations for one fancy meal that you can look forward to. For the rest, get creative: Pick up meal items at a grocery store or use Yelp to find fun hole-in-the-wall places.
Tip: My husband and I love to order takeout and come back to eat it in bed in our hotel room. It feels very luxurious — and it’s much cheaper than room service.
· Minimize Breakfast Costs: Breakfast can get expensive — especially if you have to buy it at the hotel. Choose a hotel or B&B where breakfast is included. If it’s not, be sure to check the price before you indulge in the continental breakfast spread — it may be more expensive than you think.
Tip: Most times you can get a cheaper (and often better) meal from a nearby coffee shop. Do your research before you arrive, or ask a friendly local for a recommendation.
· Don’t Pack the Schedule: With just a weekend to explore it can be tempting to maximize every minute. But first, clarify what you’re hoping to get out of the time away: Relaxation? Adventure? Intimacy with your spouse? If your goal is to rest and recharge, let that determine the agenda. Identify one or two fun activities and give yourselves permission to decide how much or how little you really want to do when you get there.
Tip: My husband and I have actually started doing less research before our weekend getaway destinations. Now instead of being obsessed with seeing every last thing, we’re more attuned to each other’s needs. It gives us the freedom to explore — and if we happen to find opportunities we wish we’d taken advantage of, that’s a great excuse to come back.
What’s your favorite weekend getaway destination? Share below!