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If you’re headed to the beach and you’ve probably been planning for days if not weeks or months. A beach is an amazing place to vacation, however, it can also be expensive if you’re not prepared.
For families, the price of a beach trip is usually reasonable compared to other trips like theme parks or tours. After all, there’s no cost to visit the beach and swimming in the ocean is free too.
Even with the cost-benefit of a beach vacation, your expenses will add up. Hotels, food, transportation, and gear will make what seems like an affordable trip turn into an expensive one.
I’ve compiled a list of budget saving tips for the beach. A few of the tips take place in the planning stage while others are easy tips you can use on your way to the beach. Let me know in the comments if you have tips of your own.
Best Budge Saving Tips For A Beach Trip
#1 For Groups: Rent A House And Avoid Hotels
People who are traveling from out of town still rely on hotels when visiting the beach. Hotels are convenient and seem to be everywhere, but you’ll need multiple rooms if you have friends and family with you.
One hotel room is reasonable but it doubles for every extra room.
If you’re with a group or large family it’s best to rent a beach house. You can do this through Airbnb, VRBO, and other property management companies (get $40 off your first stay when you sign up with Airbnb).
A lot of people believe that renting an entire house is too expensive, however, if you add up the money you save on the following:
- The ability to cook in the house, you’ll end up saving money. Forget the “free breakfast” at a hotel and enjoy a homemade BBQ overlooking the ocean.
- Beach houses are usually close to beaches which means there’s no need to drive to the beach. Just walk!
- You’ll have free parking at the beach house – it usually allows 2 or more vehicles.
- Beach gear. Most beach rentals go out of their way to please their guests and offer beach gear like paddle boards, bodyboards, snorkels and masks, towels, beach towels, and umbrellas.
- Prior guests often leave sunscreen, soap, shampoo
You won’t have to rent or buy many of these items.
#2 Bring Your Lunch And Drinks
One of the easiest things to do is bring your lunch and drinks. There are two reasons for this.
- Once you’re out on the beach it’s a trek to get food and drinks. It’s way more convenient to brink your own. Saves time.
- Beach shops are notorious for charging a little more than they would in other areas. When people are on vacation they think less about spending money. That hamburger and fries should be $8, but at the beach price likely increases to over $10.
#3 Use Your Water Bottles As Ice In The Cooler
Okay, I’ll admit this tip won’t save you much money but it will save space. Instead of buying ice for your ice chest or cooler, consider freezing all your water for a day at the beach.
The frozen water bottles will keep your food cold and they can gradually be removed from the cooler to thaw out. Not only are the frozen drinks keeping things cold, but they also being consumed throughout the day.
By the time you finish all your drinks the food they were keeping cold will be finished too!
#4 Bring An Umbrella Don’t Rent One
You’ll need an umbrella for the beach because it’s bound to get hot. Many beaches have cabanas and umbrellas you can rent by the hour or by the day, but it’s not necessary if you’re prepared.
If you’re renting a beach house there will probably be one you can use. If not, it’s wise to bring your own. At some point during the day, someone in your family will realize they are getting sunburned and need some shade.
An alternative is a beach tent which easily pop-up.
#5 Don’t Pay To Park (Drop Off And Park)
Premium parking will cost you. Rather than pay to park at a parking lot or feed coins into a parking meter, consider parking a little further from the beach and walk through the neighborhood.
This doesn’t mean the entire family has to walk with all their gear. Drop the gear and family off first then one person can park the car.
When the day concludes one person can get the car and pick everyone up at the beach. It’s an easy tip that can save $10-20.
If you’re staying at a hotel farther away from the beach it may be a good idea to forget the car all-together and go with Uber. You won’t have to worry about parking or your car getting broken into while you’re at the beach (it happens more than you’d think).
#6 Or.. Arrive At The Beach Early To Get Free Parking
Another tip for parking is to arrive at the beach early. I’ve mentioned this tip in countless articles because it works.
If you arrive at a beach at or before 10 am chances are you won’t have any trouble finding parking. Most people, whether it’s during the week or the weekend won’t be out of the house at that time.
By 11 am beach traffic heats up and by mid-day, it will be tough to find a place.
Save money by getting to the beach early to find free parking.
#7 Bring Gear Like Snorkel Masks, Don’t Rent
If you’ve got a young family and visit the beach often, consider making purchases of essential beach gear. This includes items like snorkel masks, bodyboards, fins, and paddle boards.
You’ll likely find shops along the beach that rent out gear for the day and they offer good equipment at a fair price. This money saving tips depends on how much you’ll frequent the beach and how active your family is.
I grew up with a bodyboard that I had for 10 years. Same with my fins, snorkel, and mask. A one-time purchase worked better for me than using rental equipment.
#8 Don’t Bring Electronics (Or Keep Them Covered In Plastic Bag)
This beach money saving tip will hopefully save you from larger expenses down the line. Electronics are the most expensive personal items we buy. They are small and easily damaged (exactly why we keep them covered).
If you take a phone, iPad, or Kindle to the beach you’re walking a fine line. We accept that sand finds its way into everything, but if sand gets into your electronics it can cause major problems.
Buttons may stop working and screens may get damaged.
If you must take your phone to the beach I recommend keeping it inside a Ziplock bag. You should be able to use it while it stays in the bag, protected.
# 9 Go To The Beach In The Off Season
An easy way to save money on accommodation and food is by going to the beach in the off-season. Hotel and rental prices are sky-high in the summer and during holidays like Christmas, New Year, and Spring Break.
One of my favorite hacks is to plan a beach trip the week before school gets out (early summer) or the week after school begins (late summer). Prices for accommodation is usually less and the amount of people and traffic at the beach decreases drastically.
You’ll find that many beach restaurants offer better deals in the offseason and hotels and beach rentals will occasionally cut their rates in half.
#10 Buy Snacks And Beer Away From The Beach
I already mentioned you should consider bringing your own food and drinks, but here’s another problem: most people buy their beer and snacks at a beach corner shop.
Don’t wait until you get to the beach community to buy beers and snacks. Buy these items away from the beach and you’ll save money. Remember, everything near the beach is usually marked up higher than away from the beach, including fuel!
What did you think of our budget saving tips for a beach trip? If you have any you’d like to share, leave a message in the comments.
Every family has a different situation when going to the beach. Some people live a few miles away while other families are traveling 1,000’s of miles to enjoy a vacation.
It doesn’t matter where you’re coming from it’s always good to save a few bucks. Saving money at the beach can be as simple as parking farther away and bringing your own food and gear.
Weigh the pros and cons of staying in a beach house if you have a large family and expect to stay in a hotel. You’d be surprised how much money a large group can save by staying in a beach house (food, gear, proximity, and more).
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