Where Should I Go on a 2-day trip with $500 to spend?

Where Should I Go on a 2-day trip with $500 to spend?

I am quite an avid reader of the website, Quora.com. I enjoy answering questions when I feel like I can provide a helpful answer, plus I like telling people what I know (haha).

Here is the original question, and my response to the query.

I and my girlfriend live in Columbia, Missouri. I want to go out of Missouri. What tricks I should follow in order to have a good trip with this amount of money.

My response:

I’m assuming that $500 is your total budget which includes getting to your destination as well. This means traveling by air is out as that would eat up all or most of your $500 between two people. Train is possibly out as well since that would eat up a minimum of $200 (probably more) for two people. Driving will only be the cost of fuel (and parking if your destination is a large city).

Chicago is a 7 hour drive from you and Memphis is a 6 hour drive. Both are large cities… if you’re driving a compact car that gets good gas mileage, you’ll probably spend around $35-$40 in fuel round trip for the longer Chicago route.
AAA GAS COST CALCULATOR

You’ll need an inexpensive hotel once you’re there and preferably with free parking. I’d use http://Trivago.com for finding the best price for a hotel. I know you said “2 day trip”, but for a “3 day/2 night trip” due to the driving distance, you’re probably looking at $120 per night… or $240 for the 2 nights. That leaves you with $220 for restaurants and things to do. With a little research, you probably can find some free museums.

FOR MORE FATHERLY SUGGESTION:
Now if you really want to save money and time, go to St. Louis or Kansas City… while both are in your own state, you can technically end up in Illinois or Kansas. Both are closer and you can pull off one night since the drive is only a couple of hours. If you run into any problems (i.e.: running out of money, breaking down, etc.), you’re not that far from home.

No matter where you decide to go, use a travel site such as Trip Advisor to find out what there is to do. It looks like there are some potentially good things to do in your nearby Jefferson City.

What would your advice be to these folks? If you had $500 and wanted to go on a quick trip, where would you go and what would you do?

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