Expert Advice

How To Plan Weekend Trips With Maximum Bang for Your Buck

Discover one seasoned Owner's secret to planning unforgettable weekend getaways — from grabbing cheap plane tickets to using points

Maehing O
Aerial shot of shoreline, Boardwalk and Skywheel at sunset, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

If you're anything like me, the flexibility of Hilton Grand Vacations' points-based system is the biggest appeal of vacation ownership. While some trips result from mindful planning, others, including some of our favorites, were thrown together on a whim. Weekend getaway trips are perfect for the latter. 

Hilton Grand Vacations Owner and family on a weekend trip, Rocky Mountains, Colorado.    

Here are the top tricks I've learned to maximize points and dollars for unforgettable family weekend trips.  

Set Yourself Up For Success

Knowing when you can travel is half the battle. First, look at your commitments and determine which weekends throughout the year would be ideal for travel. Since we're family travelers, we look to the school calendar as a guide. 

For example, I put the school holidays into my main calendar as soon as the school calendar is released each year. This gives me the insight to book weekend trips and getaways, making it easy to plan.  

Snag Flight Deals

Next, you'll want to consider how you're getting there. If you can, flying is a great way to maximize your time on short trips. However, it can be pricey, but you can find some deals with a bit of strategy. 

Luckily, the airport where I live in Charleston, South Carolina, has an international airport. (I don't really consider it international, but we do have some smaller airlines that call it home.)

A few years ago, a quick Google search for "which airlines fly into CHS" helped me make a list, and I went to each of their websites to sign up for email sale alerts. So far, the smaller economy, no-frills airlines have had the best deals. But you might be surprised to see that you can find some amazing deals. Just be sure to read the fine print. 

The first long weekend deal I found was a one-way, direct flight from Charleston to Baltimore, Maryland on Southwest Airlines — for $39 per person. I couldn't pass it up! 

Interior shot of the Metro in Washington, D.C.   

We flew into Baltimore at 9:30 p.m. on the Friday of Labor Day weekend. Then, we walked to the front of the airport and boarded a bus ($21 for four of us) that took us to the end of the Red Line on the Metrorail system that runs through Washington, DC. 

From there, we took the Metro into D.C., where I booked a redemption room on Hilton Honors™ points. Staying near the Metrorail was a requirement, so we'd have easy access to all that the city offers. We enjoyed the National Mall, The National Zoo, and all of the fantastic museums that weekend. 

At the end of the weekend, we took the Metro to Regan National Airport and picked up a one-way rental vehicle, and road-tripped back to South Carolina. Our last stop in D.C. was at Arlington National Cemetery to visit my Dad's grave. Thankfully, we had the rental car because the only vehicle access permitted to enter the cemetery is family members of loved ones buried there and tour buses.  

Topping off one of the best trips ever was a pit stop in Spartanburg, South Carolina. My darling nephew, Jordan, had made his grand entrance into the world just a few weeks before our trip, so naturally, we went to meet him. If you ever find yourself in Spartanburg, stop and eat at "The Beacon Drive-In." Order it "A-Plenty," and you'll be able to feed the family.

Snow covered and tree-lined Rocky Mountains road with pink and blue sunset skies overhead, Colorado.    

Frontier Airlines ran a $29 sale for round trip tickets on another occasion, and I booked Charleston to Denver flights as a Christmas present. The Rocky Mountains had been on my bucket list, and I was elated when it finally happened.

Since the sale was at the end of September and our flights were in mid-February, the timing worked perfectly. 

As for accommodations, I booked redemption rooms along our route with Hilton Honors points by searching hotels within a radius of places that we wanted to visit. For added savings, I booked rooms requiring fewer points a little off the beaten path. 

We stayed in the beautiful Embassy Suites by Hilton Loveland Hotel Conference Center & Spa. Then, we returned the car to the airport and took the free shuttle back to the hotel on our last day to cut down on the rental car costs. All we had to do was hop back on the shuttle the next day to make our mid-morning flight. 

Another time, Frontier Airlines ran great round trip deal from Myrtle Beach to Philadelphia for $24. It was such a good deal that I coordinated with two different family friends, who also booked flights. So three families, totaling eight kids and four adults, left after the last day of school and headed to the City of Brotherly Love. We took our National Parks Passport with us and got a lot of stamps that trip. 

The kids got to the Liberty Bell, The Hall of Independence, The Mint, a few museums, and we even rode the subway. Once again, we booked redemption rooms on Hilton Honors points close to the subway. No car rental was needed this trip, thanks to excellent public transportation and the ability to see routes by using all forms of transportation in the Google Maps app. 

Of course, Uber and Lift are available here too, but we wanted the kids to experience the subway. 

Hilton Grand Vacations Owners snapping selfie on a long weekend getaway.   

Be Ready to Hit the Road

Sometimes, depending on where you live, some of the best weekend getaways are just a short road trip away, which is the case for us.

I recently booked a long holiday weekend in the mountains to go snow skiing and tubing next winter. In addition, we're taking one of our older kids and her family as a Christmas present. 

We haven't had too many opportunities to play in the snow with them, so this will be a treat. I kept checking RCI® vacation exchange for availability, and luckily, I found a great place for a long weekend. We're looking forward to making memories with the kids and a couple of the grandkids. Our older kids have made their way in life, and they don't need more stuff.

"Giving the gift of time and memories through vacation ownership is the next chapter of parenthood for us."

— Maehing O., Hilton Grand Vacations Elite Premier Owner

Earlier this year, we took a long weekend and enjoyed a gorgeous ocean view, 3-bedroom suite at the well-appointed Ocean 22 by Hilton Grand Vacations in Myrtle Beach. It was off-season but a perfect time for us to enjoy time with our kids and grandkids, and the indoor pool was a great refresher for our five-year-old grandson to "remember" how to swim. 

It was his first time in the pool since the previous summer, and It didn't take long for him to get the hang of it again.   

Interior shot of stunning indoor pool at Ocean 22 by Hilton Grand Vacations, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.    

However, our most recent weekend getaway was in Beaufort, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia. We headed to Hwy 21 Drive-In after work on a Friday night and caught Godzilla on the big screen.

Then, we stayed the night at a Hilton hotel on another redemption stay. 

And if you're wondering how long it's been since we've paid for a hotel, it's been 15 years — the exact number of years that we have been Hilton Grand Vacations Owners.

We got up Saturday morning and joined my bonus brother and his family for the day at Huntington Island State Park, where they stopped with their R.V. for a few days on their way to North Dakota. (By the way, my darling nephew is now seven and has a younger sister.)

From there, it was just an hour's drive to Savannah, so we headed there for the night. On Sunday, we strolled around Forsyth Park and historic River Street and ended the afternoon with a delicious lunch at the famous Pirate House restaurant.  

Being Hilton Grand Vacations Owners (and budget-conscious) has afforded us many last-minute vacations and weekend adventures, which is exactly what we talked about on our short, scenic two-hour drive home. 

Consider a low country weekend getaway to Chareleston and read "4 Seasons of Southern Charm: 13 Things to do in Charleston" for inspiration. 

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Hilton Grand Vacations Owner, Maehing O.

Maehing O

As seasoned Owners since 2006 and with a love of adventure, Maehing and her husband purchased Hilton Grand Vacations timeshare on the spot and vowed to never stay on the same property twice — and so far, so good. The couple and their large family, including five kids ages 10 through 28, grandkids and extended family, are always on the go searching for their next great family adventure. 

One of their favorite Hilton Grand Vacations memories was the look on their newly engaged kids' faces when they found out they were given ClubPoints for their honeymoon. They chose Kings' Land by Hilton Grand Vacations on The Big Island. When asked why she wanted to become an Explorer, Maehing says, "There's an entire world out there with beautiful people and places that should be seen, experienced and shared."

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