First Person: A Budget Friendly Weekend Trip to Atlanta

Yahoo Contributor Network

We wanted to take our teenage daughter and our three godchildren to Atlanta for the weekend this month. However, when you are taking four children (17-year old, 12-year old and twin 5-year olds) on a weekend trip to Atlanta, it can easily destroy your monthly budget. Vacationing on a budget can also be depressing because you constantly worry about money rather than enjoying the vacation activities you have planned.

By using money saving vacation tips that we have learned from past vacations, we were able to budget a weekend trip to Atlanta that we could enjoy and would not bust our bank account.

Vacation tips on a tight budget

Choose a hotel with free food - We chose to stay at Embassy Suites for several reasons but the main reason was the free food. Embassy Suites offers a cook to order breakfast buffet that fills everyone up and does not cost anything extra. It is a great money saving tip for a budget vacation. Furthermore, the hotel offers evening snacks and drinks that are great after a day of sightseeing.

Choose a suite hotel - This is the second reason we chose Embassy Suites because each room has a living area with a foldout couch and a bedroom with one or two beds. This easily accommodated two adults and four children without the necessity of having two hotel rooms. TIP: If you join Hilton Honors and request the MVP rate, you can save even more money on your rate. We always join hotel rewards programs as a way to save money on hotel stays.

Choose combo event tickets - We searched for ticket combos that would allow us to do several vacation activities while saving money on each attraction. The Atlanta Zoo and the Georgia Aquarium offer a combo ticket that allows you to visit both attractions for a lower price. By purchasing the combo ticket online, we saved money over the regular admission price to both attractions.

Choose attractions that are food friendly - Choose vacation activities that allow you to bring your own food to eat rather than buying park food. The Atlanta Zoo is a perfect vacation attraction because you can pack a picnic to enjoy in the park beside the zoo. This is much more cost effective than purchasing food inside the zoo.

Unfortunately, not all attractions allow you to carry in food. The Georgia Aquarium does not allow outside food and the food inside the aquarium is very expensive. To save money the day we visited the aquarium, we timed our visit so that it was between a late breakfast and an early dinner. We took a break inside for drinks but avoided the expensive food items. Because our hotel was located outside of downtown Atlanta (to save money), we packed snacks in the car to have on the ride back to the hotel.

Eat in your hotel room - Instead of eating at restaurants, which would have been much more expensive, we brought in takeout pizza one evening and the other evening we prepared sandwiches in the room (they have a small refrigerator and microwave). This saved a lot of money on food and gave us more time to enjoy the hotel pool (which the kids loved).

We spent right at $580 for the entire three-day Atlanta weekend:

  • · $200 for two nights at the hotel
  • · $280 for six combo tickets to the zoo and the aquarium
  • · $100 in takeout pizza and sandwich supplies

The key is to enjoy what you have paid to see (the animals, fish, etc.) instead of spending money on expensive souvenirs and food. I purchased cheap items at the dollar store before we left to give to the kids after visiting each attraction. There were just as happy with these items as they would have been with the expensive souvenirs in the gift shop.

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