After a rough week at work, people sometimes get the urge to hop in their car, take a plane or train, and head out of town.  The problem is that most airlines and hotels charge extra for weekend stays they want to profit from your urge to travel.

With careful planning, you can avoid extra charges and still have a good time.

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Plane, train or automobile?

It’s your decision, but let’s look at a few facts.  Carriers charge more on weekends because the demand is high.  You could try one of those bargain websites, such as expedia, but you might have a harder time getting a ticket, and if you are flying, there is always the risk of getting bumped because the flight was overbooked.

Give some thought to driving.  For one thing, you’ll be in control of departure and arrival times.  There won’t be any delays because a passenger caused problems during boarding.  Nobody will charge you for extra luggage or search through your belongings and you will not be subject to a body search or scan if the TSA agent thinks you are a suspicious character.

Road-Trip

Gas is expensive, and you’ll pay for parking, but you will be in charge of the trip, and won’t get stuck sitting next to a stranger who will invade your space, or insists on talking to you, even where you are pretending to be asleep.  You’ll have a much better time if you and your friends share the driving.

Some tips on saving gas for road trips.

Where to stay

There are ways to save money on your lodging, even if you travel during peak times.  First of all, pick an area then do some research.  Every state has a board of tourism.

These are a great resource.  They give you attractions, schedules and almost all the information you could need or want.  Since tourists bring revenue to the state, and the state wants your money, many of their affiliates offer discounts. Design your weekend trip with the help of these websites.

Bed and breakfast versus hotels

Most B&B’s are cheaper than hotels.  They come in a range of prices from a comfortable bed, with a continental breakfast to a restored mansion, set amid gardens and golf courses.

As a general rule, your typical bed and breakfast will cost less than a chain hotel.  You should go online, find several places and compare their rates.  Many charge lower rates during the off season (October to April).

Do a Google search for bed and breakfasts.  There are several B and B association websites.  Sign up for emails because they’ll notify you of upcoming sales, or new places opening in your area.  It puts you one step ahead of your fellow travelers, and can help you save money.

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You can, however, get a good weekend rate at a hotel if they offer specials or packages.  That’s why you should go to the hotel website and look for their specials before heading to the bargain hotel booking websites.

Some of the packages include parking, tours of local attractions or a romantic dinner for two.  You can save serious money on outings when they are given as part of a package deal.

Sign up for their email updates.  They let you know when the hotel is having a sale.  Many large hotels in major cities offer off season specials.  Business is slow after the Christmas holidays and they want to give it a boost.  But you won’t know about these deals unless you join their mailing list.

Do it yourself

You will save your money, and your sanity, if you book your own hotel reservations.  Those booking websites do have glitches, and you’ve all heard the stories about people who arrive at hotels, only to find the hotel never got the order.

If the hotel is fully booked, they’re out of luck.  On the other hand, if you made the reservation online, you had to pay a deposit, or even the entire amount if you got one of the ‘book ahead and save’ specials.

You’ll have a receipt, and the credit card company records.  If you are prepared, things will go smoothly.  It’s the travel equivalent of remember the umbrella and it won’t rain; forget it, and you’ll get caught in a downpour.