New Zealand is a beautiful country with plenty of activities to enjoy, but travel can get expensive. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to enjoy a long weekend getaway on a budget. It can be a challenge, but it’s certainly doable, especially if you know where to look for deals and discounts. Just because you want to spend less money, doesn’t mean less value. With a little effort, you can find fun activities and still keep your wallet in one piece.
Ways to spend less on your next weekend getaway
So, let’s look at some ways of keeping costs down on your next long weekend escape. There are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when it comes to enjoying an Easter break without spending too much money. Here are some ideas.
1. Make a budget
The first thing you do, even before you decide where you’re going, is to set a budget. That way you can work out what you can afford. Travel, accommodation, meals, and general spending vary a lot depending on where you go and when. If you don’t know what you’ll be getting yourself in to on your holiday break, then you’re asking for budgeting troubles.
Setting a budget will help you narrow down destination ideas. Then you can create a rough itinerary alongside your budget. Researching blog sites is a great way to find out some of the best places to go and things to do as they’re often written by other like-minded folk who want to pass on their wisdom.
You also should set yourself a budget for each day of your trip, including activities and ‘fun spending’. If you’re driving, work out how many kilometres it is there and back and how much driving will you be doing while you’re there. Then work out how many litres per 100 kilometres your car uses and multiply that by the cost of fuel. Once on the road, remember to use apps, such as Gaspy, to find the cheapest fuel along your route.
2. Make your own escape
Travel during the off-season if you can. This is typically from May to September in New Zealand, and if at all possible, avoid the school holidays. Or as it is referred, make your own weekend. This is where you book to travel Saturday to Monday, as opposed to Friday to Sunday. Or make it a Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday break. Airfares and accommodation rates will often be lower.
3. Drive somewhere new
Driving can be a more affordable option than flying. Consider staying in a nearby town. Driving two or three hours to somewhere you haven’t been before can be just as refreshing and rewarding as flying somewhere more ‘exotic’. If you live in any major cities, there are plenty of destinations within driving distance for a long weekend getaway. If the accommodation options where you would ideally like to stay are too expensive, consider other options. You can often save money by staying in nearby town and taking day trips.
Try looking at holidays and weekends away as an opportunity to explore and involve a walk or a bike ride somewhere new. There are many free activities on offer that’ll save you money and also allow you to discover more of our beautiful country. Pop on your walking shoes, grab your backpack and pack a picnic.
4. Plan ahead
You’ll want to look at booking your accommodation and transportation early, as well as researching affordable activities and attractions. Planning ahead is crucial for both a healthy wallet and a great
trip because you’ll be able to take advantage of early bird discounts and avoid last-minute price hikes.
5. Ways to save on where you stay
Accommodation will be the biggest cost, so get on the internet and see what’s available. Look for accommodation options that offer discounts for booking in advance or consider booking through a website that offers last-minute deals.
If you want to stay in a hotel or motel, it’s often better to call them directly rather than booking through an online website such as booking.com or expedia. These sites are useful for seeing what accommodation is available, but going directly will be cheaper as they save the accommodation providers from paying the hefty commissions. You’ll be doing them a favour, so chances are they could do you one in return, such as getting the best room or site, an upgrade, a breakfast deal, or an early check-in or late check-out. You’re also more likely to get help should you need to change your dates or even cancel, because they won’t be tied to a third-party website.
While hotels and resorts can be comfortable and convenient, they can also be expensive. Consider alternative accommodation such as hostels, camping, Airbnb or Top10 holiday park cabins. Some self-contained cabins are right on the beach and can sleep up to five people. For example, Orewa Beach Holiday Park is just a short drive from Auckland city. It has rates for families and couples and a range of accommodation options, including cabins, and self-contained units. Another excellent camping option is the Miranda Holiday Park on the Firth of Thames. This park has cabins and plenty of facilities, including a playground, hot pools, and a games room, making it an excellent option for families. To find great campsites there are some great apps available. Try Rankers, the official New Zealand app for camping, for holiday parks and DOC campsites. To stay on private property, have a look at Campable. You’ll have access to places like vineyards, farms, beaches, and pubs and get opportunities to meet the locals.
These options can also provide a fun or quirky travel experiences. The main point is to shop around because there are usually lots of options out there.
6. Eating well for less
While you’re on the road, food is a big expense. The cost of restaurants and takeaways can mount up, especially if you’re travelling with a family. You could try First Tables if you are eating out. It offers 50% off lunches and dinners if you‘re seated before certain times, but you have to book in advance. Or you could just grab some fish and chips or an ice cream for the complete Kiwi experience.
Consider staying in accommodation that has a kitchen, so you can prepare your own food, thereby saving a lot of money.
Or, you could take prepared meals and snacks to save even more. Pak n’ Save is your friend. Grocery shopping can be a great way to save money on food and also ensure that you have healthy and satisfying options. If you’re on a roadie, then stock up there before you hit your next destination.
Checking out local markets during your travels will also help you save. Most cities and towns across New Zealand hold local weekend markets, particularly over Easter. These often have live music, food and craft stalls, and activities for kids. Not only are markets great holiday entertainment, they are also a great place to pop in for a fresh loaf of bread, a cheap and delicious breakfast, or some fresh
fruit and vegies, and you’ll be supporting the locals. Opening a bottle of wine and making a platter from local foods, while staying somewhere new, is a very good reason for a roadie.
As you drive through the country, you’ll also see many roadside stalls selling fresh, locally grown produce or even pick-your-own strawberries. These can be significantly cheaper than supermarkets, and you’ll be supporting local economies on your drive. They also make for great opportunistic snacks on the go for the kids.
7. Look for free, discounted or low-cost activities
There are plenty of free or low-cost activities and attractions in New Zealand that are perfect for a long weekend getaway. Look for parks, beaches, museums, and other attractions that offer free or low-cost entry. These options can be just as enjoyable as more expensive activities and can help you save money.
Before booking any more costly activities, check for discounts and deals. Many businesses offer discounts for advance bookings or for booking multiple activities or attractions together or try checking out the deal websites. Bookme and GrabOne both offer deals on experiences and dining.
By following these tips, you can save money and make your long weekend getaway more affordable and enjoyable.