Ah, vacation. That precious time where one can unwind, de-stress and re-charge.  As William James once said, “Every man who possibly can should force himself to a holiday of a full month in a year, whether he feels like taking it or not.” For most, a month is just not possible. However, with a little flexibility and planning it is possible to steal away for a three-day trip that is equally as beneficial.

If you are looking for last minute Memorial Day ideas or just need to grab a long weekend in the midst of summer this year, here are some tips to get you going on a fast and frugal 3 day getaway:

Location, location, location – The least expensive options will be closest to you. Get out a map and see what falls within a 3 hour radius from where you live. This will help cut costs on fuel and won’t eat up precious down time in the car.

Obvious choices would be the beach or mountains if you live close enough. But check for National Parks or camping sites nearby. Consider even staying in your own city, but in a downtown hotel with a pool.  Another out of the box possibility: swap houses with another family for the weekend. Maybe you have friends that would like the same opportunity to steal away

Activities Once you nail down your destination, research what the least expensive options are for activities. Bring bikes, fishing gear, or check out local museums and free attractions.

One way to bring major impact to the trip: think of experiences your kids haven’t had. It’s amazing how exciting a trolley, shuttle or cab ride can be for little ones.  Or maybe this is the trip where they get to try a train, horseback riding or theater show (summer often brings free outdoor performances). See this post for other ideas.

FoodSince it’s a short trip, save money by packing your own snacks and possibly even easy breakfast or dinner options. Food costs can really run up the bill on vacation, so also check online coupon sites like Groupon and Living Social where you can find great discounts on restaurants. Super saver tip: pack a cooler full of water and drinks so you never have to overpay on those. 

Toss the TechnologyWant to truly take a 3-day break from it all? Get the whole family to give up their phones, computers, and tablets for the trip. Have a morning and night check-in to be sure important calls aren’t missed but refuse to text, email, or phone back unless it’s an absolute emergency. 

Bring board games, playing cards, and art supplies. Watch as your family reconnects in conversation and imagination, both of which are completely free.

Vacations are not only fun, but necessary. Taking time to get away from it all keeps burnout at bay and even has health benefits. While we might think we can’t afford to, the truth is we can’t afford not to; and a fast and frugal 3 day getaway may be all we need.