What's the average cost of a 3-day weekend getaway?
Labor Day weekend may have you dreaming about taking a quick getaway with the family. But “quick" doesn't necessarily mean cheap—the cost of a three-day weekend for a family of four can quickly add up, whether you're headed to the beach, the mountains, or the city.
Below, we'll take a look at the average cost of a three-day getaway for a family of four in the northeast United States. Feeling sticker shock? Fear not: We'll share a variety of options to help you save money on your next weekend trip.
Accommodations can rapidly eat up any travel budget. But if you're flexible, this is also an area where you can find savings.
The average daily hotel rate in the U.S. is about $180, or $540 for three nights. But rates vary depending on where you're headed and when you're traveling. Hotel rooms in a major city, during summertime peaks or over a holiday weekend will likely command higher prices.
Thinking about booking an Airbnb in the northeast? Average prices per night hover around $200, or $600 for three nights, according to data from AllTheRooms:
- Pennsylvania: $192
- Delaware - $256
- Maryland: $186
- Virginia: $181
- New Jersey: $195
If you're happy to forego creature comforts, tent camping at a state park is a fraction of the price of a hotel or vacation rental. Starting at $16 a night for in-state residents; you’ll pay a little more if you’re traveling out of state or during a weekend or holiday.
Money-saving tip: Consider the getaway you want as you compare options. If you simply need a place to sleep during a weekend of big-city tourism, a hotel may be more affordable than an Airbnb. If you prefer to cook your own meals and kick back at your home base, an Airbnb might be the cheaper choice.
Air travel is the most expensive way to get from point A to point B, costing around $406 per person for domestic flights out of Philadelphia and $352 out of Baltimore—that's $1,625 and $1,408, respectively, for a family of four.
Driving is the cheapest way to travel: If the average gas price per gallon is $3.80 and you embark on a 400-mile round trip, you’re looking at $52 in gas to transport the whole family (assuming 29 miles to the gallon). Calculate your own gas estimate and review average gas prices by state before you travel to get an idea of what to budget.
Another option: Rail travel. The average Amtrak fare sits around $72 per person, or $288 for a family of four. While that's pricier than driving, it's a bargain compared to flying.
Money-saving tip: Drive to your destination if you want to avoid purchasing costly flights for the whole family. If you're open to spending a little more, traveling by train also provides a unique way to see the country and enjoy the journey to your destination—plus, you avoid pulling over for bathroom breaks and the inevitable impulse snack purchase.
How much will you spend on food during a three-day vacation? That depends on whether you have an appetite for fine dining or you prefer grab-and-go meals from the grocery store.
Some estimates place the average daily meal cost around $104 for a single person, that’s $417 for a family of four and just over $1200 for three days. But that assumes you're dining out for every meal.
Money-saving tip: If you can't stomach the thought of spending over $1,000 to eat for three days, there are endless ways to save money on food while you travel: Stay at a hotel with a continental breakfast, for instance, or pack your own snacks and water bottles.
A day at the museum can cost anywhere from $0 to over $100 for a family of four. Art museum tickets range from free to nearly $30 apiece at museums across the U.S.
But there are ways to save on cultural attractions, including museums. Take advantage of free admission days to get the whole family in at no cost. Some attractions allow kids to visit for free, and others offer student discounts for young visitors. Beyond museums, prices vary for local attractions.
Money-saving tip: You might find discounts on attractions during the off season or at quiet times of day: Hershey Park offers discounted “happy hour" tickets after 4 p.m., for example.
Save or splurge: The choice is yours
A three-day weekend can be as affordable or ritzy as your budget allows. If your goal is to save money, do your research to find the right accommodations, transportation options, and activities for both your family and your wallet.