The beach is most definitely our go-to vacation spot. We enjoy the mountains, the lake, and other fun destinations, but there is something about the beautiful ocean and the sound of the waves crashing against the shore that help me relax and unwind. (It’s a little less relaxing with young children but we love it nonetheless). The beach is our happy place.
Another perk to beach vacations is that they tend to be more affordable than some other options. While it’s still very possible to spend a lot of money on a beach vacation, we have found that the built-in “entertainment” of the beach itself saves us a ton. Since the beach is the main attraction, it’s a huge money saver. With that in mind, there are definitely some ways to make a beach vacation even more easy on the wallet.
Here are our top 8 ways to save money on beach vacations.
1. Set a budget and stick to it
Before you make any arrangements or plans, you have to make a decision about your budget. Hopefully, you’ve been able to plan ahead and put some money away so that you have a reasonable amount saved up, but determining your budget is always key. Decide what you can spend ahead of time and then make sure you stick to it!
2. Use cash
We have been using cash for our vacations for a number of years now and it definitely helps us stick to our budget. Once we know what our spendable money will be (what is left to spend on gas, food, etc. after we pay for accommodations), then we take that cash out and use it for all of those purchases. Carrying that much cash makes some people feel uncomfortable, which I can understand. We’ve never had a problem with it, but sometimes The Teacher and I split the money up if we are worried about one person having all the money.
3. Buy groceries (or bring a lot of your own) and eat in most nights
I will be the first person to jump at the opportunity to eat out while on vacation. Who wants to think about meal prep when you are having fun at the beach? Since we typically go on vacation with family, we each contribute a certain dollar amount to the “food kitty” and then we shop at the grocery store using that money. If we need to add more as the week goes on, then we do. If you can bring some food from home (or even some freezer meals), then you’ll save even more, since prices at grocery stores near the beach may be higher.
We also divide up the meal prep so one person is not responsible for all the cooking. Others may pitch in to help with preparation or with clean up, but the assigned family decides on the meal and is responsible for getting it all prepared. We usually pick at least one night to eat out and may use up leftovers towards the end of the week, but eating in saves a ton of money!
4. Bring your own beach gear
You will definitely save money on beach chairs, umbrellas, boogie boards, beach towels, sand toys, sunscreen, and other beach gear if you buy them at home and bring them with you. Many times, our houses will have beach chairs, but we usually bring our own to be certain. Those beach stores charge a premium price for those items because they know they can. Come prepared as much as possible and your budget will thank you.
5. Pick your date when rates are lower
Whether you are staying in a condo or a house, you can save money if you stay during off-peak times. Depending on your area, rates will go up dramatically in June and then go back down in September. Sometimes your schedule may not allow for it, but it’s a good option if you can be flexible with dates. I don’t have much experience with hotels, but we have found that splitting the cost of a condo or house has also made our accommodations more affordable. We also tend to think it’s a lot of fun to vacation with friends or family.
6. Skip the luxury
We have stayed in some gorgeous new beach houses (when we were both working full-time and before kids) and then some older, more “dated” houses. The big and beautiful houses are wonderful if you can spend more, but the older houses can do just as well. The house we stayed in this year was very nice and spacious, but had more dated decor and wasn’t as gorgeous from the outside. It didn’t bother us whatsoever because it had plenty of space and the layout was perfect.
We’ve also stayed in some beautiful resort-style communities (our house this year was located in one but it was still very affordable). Those amenities are nice to have, but sometimes you spend a lot more because of them. Just keep that in mind when you are looking at prices.
7. Buy souvenirs at the end of the week
We told our kids that we would let them pick out a reasonably priced souvenir to take home, but that we would not buy it until the end of the week. This helped set the expectation for our kids that we would not be spending all of our money on expensive souvenirs, but it also forced them to spend that money wisely. They had all week to look around and think about what item they really wanted. So far, we haven’t had any buyer’s remorse!
8. Pick affordable fun and spread it out
Since the beach is basically free entertainment, we spend the majority of our time there. The kids love swimming and playing in the sand and we love being outside too. We typically do a few things in the evenings, but we do our best to keep them affordable. We love trips to the ice cream shops, window shopping, or visits to any nearby national or state sites/parks. When things do cost money, we try to spread them out through the week so that we don’t spend all of our money at once.
We are most definitely a vacation family. Even when money is tight, we try to stash at least a little bit away for some type of getaway. We have made some wonderful memories over the years while on our beach vacations. Now that ours is over for this year, maybe we need to start planning for next year! 🙂
See my other travel or vacation related posts here:
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What are some ways you save money on beach vacations?