Travel doesn’t always have to be exotic. While journeys to faraway locales have their place, for most of us, balancing affordability with convenience and the chance to spend quality time with our families is the real bottom line.

In fact, sometimes the most surprising experiences can be right around the corner. Experiencing our home turf like a tourist can open up all kinds of possibilities.
Here are a few ways to sneak in that winter getaway without breaking your budget:

•    Be a big city tourist. Pick a city within easy driving distance and visit with a fresh eye. When was the last time you toured the Liberty Bell, sailed around the Statue of Liberty or took in the view from the top of the St. Louis Gateway Arch? It’s fun to be a tourist, and if you stay in the city center, many popular attractions will be within walking distance.

•    Off-season hotel packages offer great deals in winter. Off-peak prices make even upscale lodging affordable. Ask about special rates, packages and incentives such as free in-room movies, breakfast and coupons for in-hotel dining. Radisson’s Bed & Breakfast Family Package, for instance, includes a Sleep Number bed guestroom along with breakfast for a family of four.

•    Get pampered close to home.
If a destination spa isn’t in the cards, full service hotels sometimes offer spa or salon services along with fitness centers, indoor pools and whirlpools to give your body and spirit a lift.

•    Discover small town America. 
Another way to explore the local landscape, taking a road trip to a nearby small town offers a dose of down home charm, family attractions and genuine hospitality.

•    Consult the concierge. If you’re not familiar with a destination and want to get the most out of a short getaway, your hotel concierge can offer timesaving advice on attractions, dining, kid-friendly entertainment and more. Or, in advance, do some online research. Major hotels brands often partner with Web sites like to note a city’s best sights, restaurants, clubs and shops.

•    Cash in your points. If you’re a member of a hotel rewards program, when was the last time you cashed in on the benefits of your membership? Programs typically offer points redeemable for free hotel nights, airline miles, prepaid cards and more.

For more tips and ideas for planning a trip in your own backyard, visit

With more than 965 locations in 70 countries, including Radisson Hotels & Resorts and Country Inns & Suites, Carlson Hotels Worldwide is a leading authority in leisure and business travel.

Courtesy of Family Features