The 4-day weekend, after block leave, can be the only chance that you get to take time away with your Soldier (and family). With the 4-day breaks spread throughout the year it can get expensive trying to go and do things every time. There is a way to do it, not break the bank and make the most of that relaxing time. It doesn’t matter if you are going 5 minutes or five hours down the road, taking a little time to search and plan your destination can be the difference in spending way more than you had planned.
Here are a few things I have learned while planning our small excursions:
1. Try and plan ahead as best you can especially since most of these long weekends are over Federal Holidays. I know that with the Army this can be a tough feat but if you can, it can make it much easier to save money and have an enjoyable time.
2. Think outside of the big hotel chains, even the budget or economy ones. These chains are not always the most economic option or the cleanest. Locally run hotels and motels are in many cases nicer and more cost effective because they have more control over their rate options. They are also more likely to give a better military rate to support the troops. If you are set on using a name brand be sure to join their free rewards program and earn the points. Two of the better ones are Choice Hotels and IHG. IHG is also taking over many of the on-post lodging hotels as well and you can earn rewards that way too, just check your local post.
3. Remember its only 4 days and traveling to and from where you are going has to fit in there so don’t try and go too far away or fit to much into the weekend. Picking a location that is less than 6 hours is usually the best option because you won’t be spending to much of the weekend on the road (unless that is what you planned then have fun)
4. Don’t think too small. Yes its only 4 days but you could do one really big thing during the trip, or have one specific location that has a lot of very small and manageable things to do. Make a list of what you want to do and the time it takes. Then narrow it down to the ones you really want to do and plan from there. Having a guide can save you from wasting time trying to answer the question what to do next.
5. Pack meals for the car and even the beginning of the trip. This can save money and time while traveling so you don’t have to stop as much. It will make it easier to control just how much you are spending if the food is already something you have budgeted for groceries. Some of our favorite memories are stopping at the rest areas and eating lunch. We met this little prairie dog (right) at a rest area for lunch.
6. If you really want or need to stick to a strict budget, create a plan, research the costs and then only use cash on the trip. Take into account there may be extras like presents or souvenirs so always add a little cushion and take the cards along for emergencies.
The 4-day weekend is one of the best ways to recharge, spend time focusing on your family, and get away from the military for a little while. Even if you stay home look for local places that spark your interest. It’s surprising how many neat things you can find when you really start looking around your area. Some resources for local spots are your chamber of commerce, convention centers, and parks and recreation websites. Whether you go as far as you can or stay home, make the most of the time off!
Jenny is an Army wife and about to be a mom to a new baby boy. Now trying to navigate the new world of motherhood and military one day at a time. I am an outdoor enthusiast, natural health researcher, and constantly creating new DIY projects.
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