Editor’s note: This guest post was written by Ashley Rossi of SmarterTravel.
The end of summer, particularly in August and September, is often referred to as the "sweet spot" for travel. Summer crowds disperse, as families get ready to head back to school, meaning there is less demand at popular summer vacation spots. If your schedule allows, this is actually one of the best times to plan a long-weekend escape! Here are five budget-friendly tips from SmarterTravel that’ll make your end-of-summer getaway the best one yet.
The best part about planning a staycation or a getaway to a nearby destination is that you’ll save on transportation costs and time by staying local. Here are some suggestions for a number of major cities across the U.S.!
From New York City, we recommend a trip to Dutchess County in New York.
From Atlanta, Georgia, head to Asheville, North Carolina.
From Houston, Texas, head to San Antonio.
From Seattle, Washington, head to Bellingham or Whidbey Island.
From Los Angeles, head to San Diego, California.
For even more exciting escapes near nine major U.S. cities, check out these top, cheap weekend getaways!
Hit the road
You can cut costs on transportation by driving to your weekend getaway. Even if you don’t own a car, renting a car or using a service, like Zipcar, gives you freedom and flexibility to make a road trip a viable option. What’s more? Zipcar has a partnership with state and provincial parks across the U.S. to give you free parking at select locations.
Make sure you’re using an app, like GasBuddy, which is a crowd-sourcing app that tells you where the cheapest gas is nearby. Since you already have your smartphone out, take a second to download these nine other essential road trip apps, too!
Ditch the hotel
Try looking into different types of accommodations when planning an end-of-summer getaway—with glamping being a top choice. Not only are you staying in Instagram-worthy properties, but you’ll likely be saving on nightly rates since these are usually a non-traditional form of shelter. You’ll also be able to cut costs on dining out if you book a place with a kitchen or cooking area and avoid the potential high costs of hotel parking lots.
Embrace the off season
Significant savings can be found in destinations that are in their off season, as these locales are less popular this time of year and typically have lower prices to attract guests. This is especially true in summertime in mountain towns, like Stowe, Park City, Vail, and many more. Other popular destinations where summer is considered to be the off season include Arizona, Florida, and New Orleans.
It’s time to get outside! Most hikes and beaches are free to enjoy, and the great outdoors provides a naturally relaxing backdrop to celebrate the end of summer. Be sure to check out free National Park entry days—one is coming up on August 25!—and look at passes for state and national parks if you’re looking to visit often. Don’t know which park to visit? We’ve got some suggestions for you that come recommended by the park rangers themselves here.
Check out Glamping Hub and SmarterTravel’s Weekend Road Trip Giveaway on Instagram! You and three friends have the chance to win the perfect end-of-summer getaway.