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5 Ways to Enjoy Your Weekend Getaway (and Maintain Your Budget)

Your holiday weekend getaway should leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed. And with online home rentals and deals on hotels and airfare, it's easier than ever to plan a fun (and inexpensive) weekend away to hit your reset button.

But it's not uncommon to come home from that “cheap getaway" only to realize you spent more than you planned and completely derailed your monthly budget. When that happens, the rest and relaxation you enjoyed are quickly overshadowed by stress as you pinch pennies to get your finances back on track. 

Don't let your weekend getaway become a financial burden. Instead, use these tips and avoid sneaky budget busters with a little pre-trip preparation.

1. Pack snacks.

Avoid stopping for fast food or snacks at convenience stores or airports — places that are notoriously overpriced. Instead, stash some healthy snacks and drinks in your bag so you'll be good to go until you reach your destination (and your money will stay in your wallet, where it belongs).

2. Fill up a couple of days early.

Gas prices almost always go up right before a holiday weekend. If you're planning a road trip, you can avoid the price hike by filling up earlier in the week. Also, check your tire pressure and pack whatever you can inside the car (versus on the roof) to maximize your fuel efficiency while on the road.

3. Set expectations with travel companions.

Are nice dinners and guided tours in the budget or will you look for free activities? If you're traveling with others, it's important to discuss trip expenses and make sure everyone is on the same page. Make sure you discuss specific costs as well - if you're doing the driving, there's no shame in asking passengers to pitch in for gas money. And if you don't want to ask the wait staff to split the bill at every restaurant, use an app to immediately repay the person who handled the check. By discussing expectations in advance, you're ensuring everyone involved will enjoy their getaway.

4. Swap childcare or pet care.

It's not really a cheap weekend getaway if you're paying for childcare or pet boarding while you're gone. Instead, see if a neighbor or friend is able to check in on your pets while you're gone (be sure to offer to reciprocate when they need the favor). If you have kids, consider asking your parents, sibling, or close friend to take them for the weekend — many grandparents would enjoy the opportunity, and friends or siblings who have their own children may be willing to swap another weekend with you.

5. Research your destination.

From restaurants to transportation, and even weather, make sure you know it all before you arrive. Identify some good local places to eat and visit, and learn the public transit system to avoid overpriced meals and taxis.  Also, check the weather so you're not shopping for last-minute sweatshirts, umbrellas, or sunscreen. You'll save money and probably enjoy your trip more too.

It might seem counter-intuitive, but just a little planning can enhance the spontaneity and excitement of your weekend getaway — and you'll ensure financial regrets aren't part of the package.

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