With summer just around the corner, one of the top priorities for a lot of people will be to take off to the beach for a day, or for an extended vacation, when the opportunity permits. One of great things about going to the beach is that it can be a relatively low-cost, day-log activity. That being said, there are certain areas which can get costly if you don’t prepare a bit before hand. Here are a number of suggestions on how you can make your tips to the beach this summer a bit less expensive without giving up any of the fun.
If you happen to live within driving distance to a beach, you probably know that it’s hard to find parking spots during the summer. Some private beaches charge your for parking and some public beaches have nearby private parking lots that charge an outrageous amount for you to park your car. If you have four people going to the beach and parking is $20 a car, would you take two separate cars? Why not just carpool and split the cost between everyone.
Bring Your Own Food
There are usually plenty of vendors and food carts around public, private, and commercial beaches, but that food is usually very overpriced. One of the best ways to save money when you visit the beach is to bring a cooler of your own food. Prepare some sandwiches, throw in some fruit or other snacks, some drinks, a bag of ice, and you’re good to go!
Buy Food Away From the Beach
If you are planning on bringing your own food to the beach or eating breakfast or lunch in your hotel room, consider buying groceries outside of the beach town. Food prices tend to be almost double in high tourist areas like beaches because local markets know they can jack up the price and people will pay. Of course, this will only work if you have a car, but there might be public transportation you can rely on instead.
Unless you’re looking to spend your beach vacation at an all expenses paid resort, consider booking a room in a motel or renting out someone’s summer house. You might not have a glorious room, but there’s a good chance you’ll be paying significantly less, and the purpose of visiting the beach is to be outside, not in your room all day. Also hotels with pools tend to be more expensive, and since you’re at the beach, there’s no reason why you should be choosing a hotel with a pool anyway!
Additionally, renting a room in a hotel that is not on the waterfront will also save you money. Hotels close to the beach tend to be more expensive than hotels that are further away from the beach. Sometimes the distance is no more than a few blocks that are easily walkable. If you’re looking to save some money on hotel accommodations, consider booking a cheaper room that’s a little further from the beach than a hotel that is right on the water.
There are many types of beaches you can visit. A lot of public beaches are remote and not near any attractions or restaurants. Some public beaches happen to border beachfront communities who often have free activities for families, kids, and vacationers. Activities can include anything from barbeques to music festivals to games. If you’re looking to entertain yourself at a beach that has plenty of attractions nearby, see if they offer any free or discounted activities.
Avoid Beachfront Stores
Many of the stores that line beach communities are stocked with overpriced and poorly made knickknacks. This is the easiest way to waste money. For instance, you might find beach umbrellas there for twice the amount you’d find miles away. Do you really need to spend $15 on an umbrella that you could have bought elsewhere for $5? A lot of these stores will advertise bright, colorful merchandise to draw your attention, but it’s best if you just avoid it altogether. Buy your towels, chairs, bags, and umbrellas before you go on vacation or at a non-beach related store away from the hotels and beaches.
You might not think you’ll need a budget if you plan to spend your entire vacation lounging on the beach. But there are other things you might spend your money on, such as food, entertainment, or souvenirs. Going on vacation without a set budget can easily cause you to spend more money than you realize. If you limit yourself to a certain amount of money for the duration of your vacation, or even for each day or your vacation, you’ll be less likely to overspend.
Go During the Off-Season
Of course, going to the beach during the off-season only work if you’re going to a beach in a location that’s warm all year round! A lot of people tend to go on beach vacations in the summer or around the winter holidays. Off-seasons generally occur from September – November or late February to early May. You’ll find that hotel and flights are cheaper and they’ll be less hassle while you’re visiting the beach and other attractions.
Many large, popular beaches are near many different amenities and attractions. You might want to see what type of public transportation is available or if you’ll need to rent a car. If there is a decent public transportation system, take advantage of it instead of renting a car. Better yet, if everything you need is nearby, walk everywhere! If you’re planning day activities, your hotel might also have free shuttle services.
(Photo courtesy of NPB)