Vacationing on a budget without sacrificing your sightseeing plans is infinitely doable. A study done by hipmunk.com has proven that 54% of online adults would prefer to spend their tax refund on traveling. But why wait to get your tax refund when you can travel without spending a ton now?

When booking a room in Charlotte, here are the four things to know to cut cost and save money for the important things.

Hotel Location is Important

hotelImage via Flickr from James Willamoor

Charlotte is a major business and travel hub thanks to the nearby Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Finding a hotel room during the work week (Monday through Friday) is a nightmare if you’re looking to stay closer to the airport. You may also pay higher rates during these times as hotels near the airport look to cash in on business people traveling on company cards and expense accounts. Focus your stay on the downtown area and steer clear of the airport.

Staying in Downtown Charlotte

Vacationing on a budget is about convenience over lavish hotel amenities. You want a clean room with a hot shower. For about $100 per night, Hampton Inn Charlotte-Uptown can give you a brand you recognize with convenient access to downtown restaurants and bars. If you’d rather go cheaper and sacrifice walking distance, the City Center Inn Charlotte on North Tryon Street runs about $80 an evening. The Dunhill Hotel occupies a historic building on the same street, but rooms and suites start at $150 per night.

Book early and save: Timing is a factor when finding the right hotel. Waiting until the last minute to book your room can have a negative impact on your nightly rate and limit your choices. Save money by reserving your hotel room a couple months in advance, so you can shop around to find the best deal.

Budget Hotels and Hostels

If downtown access isn’t mandatory, book your vacation stay one of the city’s budget hotels or hostels. Many of these locations still offer easy access to popular tourist destinations, including The Duke Mansion and the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The Rodeway Inn Charlotte has rooms available for as little as $40 per night and is seven miles outside the city’s center. The Relax Inn Charlotte has comparable rates at a nightly rate of $39 with a 14-minute drive to downtown.

Dining and Splurging on a Budget

restaurantImage via Flickr from Tom on Formosa

While the business community might make travel in Charlotte difficult, you can thank them for the area’s culinary boom.  For specialty eats (sushi and artisanal burgers) at a price that won’t break your budget, check out The Cowfish. If affordable fried chicken is more your style, Price’s Chicken Coop is the place you want to visit. They fry everything in peanut oil, so stay away if you have a nut allergy. With all the money you save, you can indulge on a fine dining and live entertainment evening at Sullivan’s Steakhouse.

When looking for the right place to lay your head on vacation, remember to do your homework. Don’t go with the cheapest place if it’s 10 miles out of your way. Doing so could have you spending more on cab rides than souvenirs.