How to Turn Any Event into a Weekend Getaway

A few weeks ago, the gentleman I am dating had made plans to run in the Spartan Beast obstacle race. The event was just over three hours from where we live and in the middle of nowhere. A 12+ mile race was bound to be exhausting, and early registration was required.

We quickly realized that it would be necessary to spend the whole weekend out of the area to accommodate the race schedule. This created the perfect opportunity for us to plan a weekend away! However, we both wanted to stick to a small budget – especially with the holidays coming up. Turning an event for work or your hobbies into an affordable getaway is easy with these tips.

Choose a Better Location

If you are attending an event, meeting, or convention, then you might discover that it is easier to stay in another city. For example, this race was going to be held in South Carolina at an outdoor adventure course that was essentially in the middle of nowhere. The nearest hotels were 40 miles away in Columbia, SC.

Being that I am geographically challenged, I pulled out a map. This is where I realized that Charlotte, NC, would be about 12 miles further from the event location. Looking at the two cities, I realized that it would be a no-brainer to stay in Charlotte. The extra drive time was very minimal, and the tradeoff was that we would have significantly more things to do.

Take Advantage of Hotel Discounts & Rewards Programs

We didn’t book a hotel until a few days before we planned on leaving. Unless you are going to a major city for a major event, you can usually wait for the last-minute deals hotels put out as the weekend is coming up. I always start my search through big travel sites like Hotels.com to get an idea of what each hotel has to offer. Then I go to the hotel site directly to book it.

I used to have a friend who worked at a hotel. He informed me that sites like Hotels.com often overbook hotels, and then there are no rooms available. If you book through the hotel site directly, you are given the first and best available rooms over those who book through travel sites. Another perk is that you can pay when you arrive at the hotel versus having to pay upfront plus booking fees through travel sites.

I tried both AAA and military discounts that we could use but the best rate ended up being a special that the hotel was running where you go 20% off if you booked two nights. I also signed up for the rewards program that included all related hotels. Our first two nights earned us a free night on our next trip – score!

Hit up the Discount Sites

The big question was what were we going to do while we were in the area. Charlotte is a bigger city and has plenty to offer. However, like most cities, tickets to museums and other attractions can be $25-$60 each. Discount sites like Groupon, Amazon Local, and Living Social are a godsend when you are planning a trip. I scouted the three sites to see that they had many of the same deals, but it helped narrow down the places that we could go.

We settled for going to a comedy club where there was a Groupon for $10 tickets versus their normal $35 rate – saving us $50. Next, I headed over to Restaurant.com, where I nabbed a $50 gift certificate for $10 for a very nice restaurant on the lake. The certificate requires you to spend $100, and a look at the prices quickly let me realize that we would easily spend that much, so the money saved from the comedy club was applied to that.

Fill Up Where It Is Cheapest

Travel reports over the last few years have noticed that road trips are becoming more popular as people look to avoid the high costs of traveling via plane. One way to save money on gas is to fill up when you see a lower rate. When we were leaving the race, I noticed that gas was an astonishing $2.83 per gallon. I don’t pay much attention to the price of gas, but that I knew that was definitely a cheap rate. Upon filling up with premium, my boyfriend noted that it was significantly cheaper – more money saved.

Pack and Plan Meals

We made sure to get a hotel that included a hot breakfast (eggs, waffles, bacon, ect) as well as wifi and free use of the business center. We were able to save money thanks to the excellent breakfast selection and print tickets and certificates for everything we did – for free. Additionally, we picked up a few gallons of water on our way to the race to avoid the high cost of bottled water. I also packed Greek yogurt, fruit, and sandwich wraps for the drive to and from Charlotte and for his pre and post-race fuel. Collectively, I estimated that we saved around $60 by doing that. The food at the race was not only pricy, but it was not exactly healthy.

All expenses included, we spent around $230 total for the entire weekend. It was a great time for bonding, talking about our relationship, and having fun. With a little creative planning, you can turn any trip into your very own weekend getaway.