Wintertime in Western New York is long. Some years it isn’t so much about the cold as it is the grey, dreary days. I’m one of those people. When it’s sunny out, my mood is elevated. It’s the best day, even if it is only 20 degrees outside.
My husband and I have been married for 11 years. On our financial debt pay-off journey, time together was at home. When our kids were babies, I would plan date nights at home. Even if my husband’s parents would come to babysit, we didn’t have enough money to go anywhere.
So here we are 11 years later, and debt-free, we are ready for trips away from the two of us. We were very blessed to have an amazing bible study group at our church for married couples. We started it right after we had our first daughter. I know that group saved our marriage and set us up on a beautiful path to this day.
If you need encouragement as a couple, check our Right Now Media; there are many great conferences and bible studies for couples on it.
In almost all of these conferences for couples, you hear over and over the importance of spending quality time away with your spouse.
This is even more so when you have kids. Life tends to get busier as the kids grow older, in different ways than when you change diapers and constantly explain things.
Sometimes it seems easier to put aside a night together. I’m here to say I think every couple should have at least ONE overnight a year. At least. If you are in debt, pay off, reward yourself with an overnight.
As a frugal couple, I want to share ways you can do this without breaking the bank. Yes, a $3,000 vacation would be lovely, but is it necessary? Not really.
Do you really need that photo to share on social media? Nope.
Let’s get into it. Here is how to have a cheap winter getaway.
It’s a classic. If you want to plan a getaway, Groupon is an excellent choice to do it. So many times, when I am planning anything fun to do, I check Groupon first.
If you want to save money, check out a new area in your home state. You don’t need to travel far to make a memorable trip. On our last trip, we went to Niagara Falls. It’s only an hour away. If you have a long winter season getting out of routine helps so much.
Pick a Tourist Town
If you visit a tourist place, most likely it’s quiet in the winter.
This means in the winter, prices are low. If you have a trendy area in the summer, check it out in the winter. Try to pick a place that has sightseeing to do. If you are a couple that likes nightlife or going out to restaurants, then always check on this before you book a trip to an off-season place.
My husband and I like to go out every once, but we would rather explore things in nature.
Get Club Level
I wasn’t aware of this at hotels until last year. We rarely stay at hotels. Usually, my husband and I go tent camping in the Adirondacks in the summertime. But now we like to break up winter with a couples getaway.
The other tip I have to save money is to go during the week when rates are cheaper. For example, if you book a hotel and a business meeting or conference is going on, you may be able to upgrade to the club level for free.
Always ask if it is possible to be on the club level or executive level. It’s worth trying to check in early too. It may even be worth the cost to upgrade.
Club level at hotels usually means this; you get access to a room with a nice view, free Wifi, snacks, and beverages throughout the day. Most serve dinner and offer happy hours. For example, the Sheraton in Niagara Falls has Happy Hour from 5-7 pm. daily. This means free alcoholic beverages, folks.
This alone may even make your stay worth the upgrade. You get access to free water and pop along with snacks all day. Breakfast and dinner are other perks. You can also take all the food and beverages from the club lounge to your room.
It’s also worth signing up for Hotel perks rewards if available.
If you find that staying in a hotel in the wintertime is too pricey, try Airbnb. We tend to go tent camping in the summer when hotel prices are higher, but Airbnb is also a great option in the winter.
If you sign up for an Airbnb account, you’ll get a $55 credit to use towards your booking here.
If you are looking, especially at Niagara Falls, USA, book a package.
All hotels these days come with a mini-fridge and microwave. So if you are on a tight budget and want to save money, consider picking up a pre-made meal. My go-to place is BJ’s, and I just did a review on all six of the pre-made meals I’ve tried here. It also includes the Chicken Parm we had during our Winter Getaway.
Costco, Wegman’s, and many other retailers have freshly made meals. Picking it up in the microwave will be cheaper than going out to eat. If you have club lounge access at your hotel, they always have plates and silverware. Otherwise, be sure to bring some from home.
AVOID UBer During Peak Times
If you are planning a getaway in a very touristy place, let’s say Nashville. ( We went there last year), don’t rely on Uber or Lyft during peak times. The rate is tripled. We found if you need a ride during peak times, try the local taxi service. It is usually less than Uber and Lyft. Otherwise, plan on traveling BEFORE peak times.
Book Hotel with Free Shuttle
When you are looking to stay at a hotel and fly, look into finding one that has a free shuttle service from the airport to your hotel room. You will never want to rent a car right at the airport. When I went to Nashville, this was a must-have. Our Nashville hotel had a shuttle bus to and from downtown that was a lot cheaper than Uber.
Travel Mid Week
If you have vacation days, try to make your trip during the week. Rates are cheaper, and there are fewer people. If you are going to book an airline ticket, Tuesdays are the best days to get deals.
Don’t Rent a Car at Airports
The prices are ALWAYS higher than if you booked it before or online.
Don’t try to look up car rental prices online and then go to the car rentals; the online prices are not good when you book in-person the same day.
You will save the most if you bundle a hotel, car, and airline ticket together. If you know you will need all three, I always use CheapTickets to do it and save more money.
Rakuten( Formely Ebates)
Did you realize they give you cashback when you book travel and vacations through the site? If you sign up for an account here, you’ll get a bonus of $10 to spend.
Eat Where Locals Eat
Although I love getting a Groupon deal with extras, sometimes the Save $10 on a $40 purchase, etc., may not be worth it. For example, when we went to Niagara Falls, the Rain forest cafe is outrageous.
It’s a one-and-done kind of deal. If you don’t have kids, totally skip it. No one who lives in the area is eating there. Instead, utilize your smartphone and look for local places to eat.
Cheapest Places in US To Vacation
If you are looking for actual places known to be cheap, check out this blog post.
I hope this helps to inspire you to plan a winter getaway for cheap. It can be done, and there is no rush when it comes to saving money. There will always be a deal.
Share any other tips you have with us below?
Stay tuned for my post on how we went to Niagara Falls in Winter for SUPER SUPER CHEAP!