Here is a list of five ways to save money on a beach vacation.
#1 – Stay Inland.
That sounds like an oxymoron: Take a beach trip and stay inland? Yes. Hotels and motels will be cheaper the further away from the beach you get. Even if you choose a hotel a few blocks off the water, you will pay less. Ten minutes inland, you’ll save even more. We recently stayed at a nice hotel about ten minutes from the beach. It offered a free breakfast, lovely pool, free wi-fi, microwave & fridge, and many other amenities. Our stay was the last week of June, and we payed just $60 a night. A comparable room down on the beach would have been well over $250 per night.
#2 – Plan Your Meals.
Find a hotel that offers a free breakfast, and that’s one thing you don’t have to worry about.
Plan on eating out for lunch, rather than supper. Lunches tend to offer more bang for your buck; you can usually get whopping portions for a third of the cost of an evening meal. Be sure to check out local coupon books for big savings!
For dinner, either choose from the dollar menu of a fast-food restaurant, or utilize the kitchenette in your hotel room. Sandwiches, frozen dinners, or a big salad are all good options. If your hotel allows it, you could also bring a crock pot from home and cook a full meal while you’re cooking in the sun on the beach.
If you’re very thrifty, you can “eat in” virtually all your meals. Bring staples from home, and your vacation food won’t cost you more than it normally does to eat at home.
#3 – Plan Your Snacks.
If you’re stopping a couple times a day for bottled water and a snackie, those expenses add up quickly… especially if you’re using convenience stores to make your purchases. Instead, make a trip to a regular grocery store and stock up on snack foods (save even more by packaging them into zipper bags yourself) and drinks. You can buy a case of bottled water or sodas for the amount you’d pay for two at a convenience store.
#4 – Know Where To Go.
Do research before your trip. What attractions will you want to visit? How much do they cost? What are the hidden expenses? (For example, if you take all-day fishing trip, do you need to buy ice? Pay to get your fish cleaned? What about drinks and food?).
Your hotel staff and restaurant servers can be invaluable sources of information. They should be able to tell you must-see places as well as tourist traps you should avoid wasting money on.
Also research where to park when you get to the beach. Some communities offer ample free parking for tourists. Others charge as much as $10 a day for parking. You might even have to pay an admission fee to get on the beach!
#5 – Pay For Everything With Cash.
We’re a cashless society, but paying for your vacation purchases with cash makes you less likely to accidentally over-spend, or rationalize putting that “must-have” item on a credit card. If you’re nervous about having that much cash in your pocket, consider traveler’s checks. An alternative, if you can’t part with your plastic, is to load up a pre-paid credit card or PayPal card before you go and use that card only.
A beach vacation is, by nature, a little bit expensive. But with the right planning, you can enjoy yourself for far less!