Ask almost anyone what they wish they could do with their free time, and you’ll hear, “What free time?”
Just kidding. Sort of.
Seriously though, most people wish they could travel more, but think they don’t have the time or the money to make it happen. They’re wrong.
Plenty of research exists that shows Americans are really bad about taking a break. In fact, in 2014, 41 percent of Americans didn’t use all of the vacation time their companies allotted. Justifications (excuses) people cited included the belief that no one else could do their jobs, they didn’t want to be seen as replaceable, or they felt it would show greater dedication to their company and their job not to take vacations. A full 63 percent of American adults surveyed in the same year said they hadn’t traveled at all in the last 365 days. But when you ask leaders what they think, 40 percent of executives say employees would be more productive if they took more vacation.
Whatever the reason, we seem to have it in our heads that taking a break is a bad thing. It’s not. Traveling, in particular, exposes people to new experiences, cultures, views, cuisines and more — all of which allow us to recharge, expand our thinking, and bring a brighter mind to the table when we return to work.
I’m here to show you that even if you only have the weekend to work with, and your budget is a shoestring, you can still take advantage of the chance to get away. Here are some tips to make it happen:
1. Be flexible about your destination.
Sure, if you decide you want to go to a certain place on a certain date, you’ll probably be overwhelmed by the price of your airfare alone. But if you’re more open to exploration and want to simply embrace the spirit of getting away — you can find some amazing deals.
I personally love searching on Sky Scanner, because you can enter your home airport and select your destination as “everywhere.” It’s sort of like spinning the wheel of airfare fortune, and it’s nearly guaranteed to find you a reasonably priced adventure.
Remember, you don’t need to hit the most popular tourist hot spots to have a unique and worthwhile experience. There’s plenty to do, see, eat and explore in often-overlooked destinations throughout the U.S.
2. Be flexible about your travel dates, if you can.
For some people, the weekend is the only option. But for others, you might have a few days off to play with. If that’s the case, and when you can take those days isn’t set in stone, jump on Hipmunk and search using the “Price Graph” feature.
This will show you the cheapest days to fly in a grid format (or calendar, if you’re searching on their mobile app) so you can find the best possible deal. For example, you might find a fare for hundreds of dollars less if you travel from Saturday to Tuesday, instead of the typical Thursday to Sunday. Being willing to look outside of the usual long weekend days will likely leave extra money in your wallet, both from an airfare and a hotel perspective.