TREAT yourself...for 36 hours on a BUDGET / by Derek Reynolds

In case you haven't heard the thunder every afternoon, it's Summer...and the perfect time to get away for a much needed night of R&R.  Whether you call your in laws and ask them to watch the kids or call your manager and ask her to watch your pooch (like we did), everyone needs a little quality time with the one you love.  As someone who literally travels for a living, I've broken down the perfect (and budget friendly) getaway into a few simple steps:

Thank you @samcstephens for taking care of our most precious possession.  Mid lick with #worldofbanjo

Step One:  JUST DO IT!  As the perennial favorite athletic company says, bite the bullet and pick the weekend.  If you're more of a spontaneous person (like me), decide on Friday for a Saturday morning departure.  Pick someplace far enough away that it takes a little bit of effort getting there (no more than a four hour drive).  Beautiful geography and some of America's most desirable vacation spots in close proximity makes Nashville the perfect home base from which to hop.


STEP TWO:  Log on to your favorite deals website to get the best bargain on a hotel for the night...and TREAT yourself.  Obviously, everyone's budget is different, but if you end up staying in a place that's not as nice as your house, it's not really a vacation.  Priceline is my application of choice with the following PRO TIP:  Bidding on a hotel room can save you over 80 percent on your room night.  Unfortunately, it can also land you in a Red Roof Inn that hasn't been updated since 1975 next to the busiest interchange in town (was that a car that just backfired???).  I recommend stalking the Express Deals (these are unnamed properties at different star levels in corresponding areas of the town you want who are running promotions) and use that as your guideline for bidding.  Target your bid price to around $15 less than these express deals are priced for the Star Level you're looking for.  We bid on 5 star properties in Buckhead and secured a night at the InterContinental for $125.  Including taxes and fees.  Careful in this process, you can only bid once in 24 hours using the exact same criteria.  Start too low in this process with your perfect criteria and you'll have to change it up in order to bid again quickly.

Step Three:  Request an upgrade.  On site, most hotels are looking to fill rooms, and if they can fill their best rooms and potentially secure a lifetime guest, they'll do it. If you have a winning smile and a fabulous front desk manager, they will typically give you the best upgrade at the lowest price.  PROTIP:  I will always start the conversation by saying " Do you have any upgrades available for tonight and what would be the cost?"  In our case, we received a large corner King Club Level Room on the 22nd Floor with complimentary open bar and a delicious breakfast along with about 8 other perks to make our stay more luxurious for our 36 hours away... and all for less than what the basic room would have cost before we bid on it.  Take THAT retail pricing.

Some photos from our room and our FAVORITE place in the hotel...the HAM BAR.  

MOST IMPORTANTLY:  Don't travel with an agenda.  Don't over plan your time away or you'll come back more exhausted than when you left. PROTIP:  Ask the valet guy or the front desk for the best local spots.  No offense to the concierge, but I typically find the people who have the most contact with guests are also the ones with the most authentic knowledge of what's going on in a City. Pack up and enjoy!!

There are much less enjoyable places than writing your blog POOLSIDE.  Add umbrella drink and STIR.