On a budget? Make flights your top priority
Don’t get hung up on where you’re going to stay. “Weekend trips are FAR more dependent on flights than accommodation,” says New York-based Elona Karafin (aka, Elona the Explorer). “You can always find low-cost accommodation if you need it, but you can’t always find cheap flights.”
Karafin tipped us off to her favorite booking sites with the cheapest flight deals: “Go on Skyscanner, plug in your travel dates, and then in the ‘Destination’ box, type ‘everywhere.’” Not only will you feel really cool and spontaneous, but Skyscanner will show you the cheapest places to fly on those dates, so you can choose your destination from there. But wait! “Always spot check the same dates on Momondo, Google Flights, and Skiplagged, just in case there is a cheaper price available,” says Karafin.
Anna Rice, who writes for The Weekend Jetsetter blog from San Francisco, reiterates that it’s important to not be picky about where you end up for a weekend jaunt. “You might think you’re not interested in a place, but try Googling things to do in the area and you might find a hidden gem,” she says. “For example, there are lots of cheap flights to Vegas, and even if you’re not much of a gambler, there are outdoor attractions nearby, like Black Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire, and Zion National Park.”
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Book now, think later
Nothing makes the casual weekend vacationer sweat quite like the sight of “26 other people are looking at this flight,” or “Only one seat left at this price -- book now or you’re a total sucker.” It’s a sick, twisted, damn effective marketing ploy. But Rice has a way to handle it. “Often, the key to booking a great flight deal is being able to react quickly,” she says. “If you need more time, sites like Priceline usually provide a 24-hour grace period, in which you can cancel free of charge. So when you see an amazing price and have the funds, book and think through the details -- including whether you want to actually go -- later!”