Low-Budget Tips for the Beach

Ocean City, Maryland 2012
Ocean City, Maryland 2012 | Source
Ocean City, Maryland 2012
Ocean City, Maryland 2012 | Source

Planning is Important

If you are a huge fan of the beach, you probably start planning for your beach trips pretty far in advance. Not only do you want to make sure to make reservations early at your favorite hotel, resort, or beach house, you also want to plan so you can get the best deal. My advice to you is to start planning on the trip months in advance. Also, making your reservations early can help relieve some of the stress of trip planning. It also gives you the opportunity to put money into savings to plan for the expenses of the trip. However, this is not at all the only way to save money when going on a beach vacation.

You might think planning a trip is too expensive for your budget. However, sometimes you must lower your standards. You can't always stay a week at the beach. Instead, try staying just one night or two. Also, try to plan for the middle of the week. The rates are usually cheaper. If all else fails, find out if there is a day trip you can take in your area. There are many options as far as bus trips go. If you live a few hours away from the ocean, you can usually find better bargains and offers. Research a trip far in advance and you can plot the best low-budget options. If you've decided you can afford to take a trip, there are numerous ways to save even more money. The savings don't have to stop at pre-planning your lodging. I have plenty of other low-budget tips for a beach trip.

End of summer prices are the best on beach towels!
End of summer prices are the best on beach towels! | Source

Buy Your Supplies Ridiculously Early

If you usually go to the beach every summer, then plan far ahead with your beach supplies. In September, many stores try to get rid of all their summer items. This means you might just find bathing suits that are 75% off or perhaps beach towels on clearance.

I've found excellent, high-quality beach towels in September for only about $3 or $4. That is when I buy most of my beach towels. Sure, it isn't as much fun using last year's beach towel when summer rolls around, but it is way better than paying quadruple the price. Even if I don't go to the beach, I will at least hit the pool a few times during the summer, so the beach towels always get used.

Aside from beach towels and bathing suits, there are many other items you can get for the beach at a super low-budget price at the end of the summer. Here are a few things you can purchase for next summer:

  • A grill
  • Beach or lawn chairs
  • Kiddie pools
  • Inner tubes and other floatation devices
  • Beach balls
  • Flip flops
  • Water shoes
  • Kickboards
  • A cooler
  • Summer tote bags

I would like to mention that buying sunglasses or suntan lotion in September is not always the best idea. Sunglasses are important to some people all year long, so you usually won't find as many deals. As far as your lotion goes, that tends to expire quickly, so I would not take my chances on that. When it comes to preventing skin cancer, buy your sunscreen at the beginning of each summer to make sure you have a new, fresh bottle.

Packing food for the whole trip can save a family hundreds of dollars!
Packing food for the whole trip can save a family hundreds of dollars! | Source
Don't buy all your food from the boardwalk restaurants.
Don't buy all your food from the boardwalk restaurants. | Source

Pack Your Own Food

So maybe you've already got your supplies from last year or maybe you just had to buy a few things now since you were not planning your June beach trip last year in September. Don't worry about it. Not too many people are thinking about the beach in September. I am just simply always thinking about the beach and trying to ward off cold weather.

There are still ways to save money for your beach trip. My next recommendation to you is pack your food for your trip. It is worth it to find out if your hotel is going to have a refrigerator and microwave in the room. If at all possible, it is worth even paying a little extra money for that option. Buying food on the boardwalk is usually very expensive and you will save so much money by having your own food in your room. Plus, if you have food allergies or a sensitive stomach, this can help you determine exactly what you are eating and prevent a health issue from ruining your good time.

Whether you have a fridge in the room or not, I highly recommend having certain items no matter what. Don't buy this stuff once you get to the beach. As I said before, everything is overpriced at the beach and retailers are just waiting to cash in on unprepared customers. Make sure to bring items like:

  • Bottles of water
  • Pop Tarts or Granola Bars
  • Bread or bagels
  • Snacks such as donuts, chips, or pretzels
  • Cereal, if you don't mind eating it dry
  • Bananas, apples, pears, or other fresh fruit
  • Carrots, broccoli, radishes, or other veggies that require no refrigeration
  • Trail mix or nuts
  • Peanut butter or Nutella
  • Cans of soup (if microwave oven is available)
  • Instant coffee (if microwave oven is available)
  • Packets of coffee (the cold mix kind)
  • Single serve packets of cold drink mix
  • Sodas
  • Paper plates
  • Napkins
  • Cups
  • Mugs
  • Plastic utensils
  • Plastic wrap or plastic containers

As I said before, I think it is important to have a refrigerator in the room. If you have a refrigerator, it is possible you won't have to dine out for most of the vacation. If you are going to have a fridge, some other items you can bring:

  • Gatorade or Powerade
  • Fruit cups
  • Juice
  • Jelly
  • Cream cheese (keep it in a cooler while travelling)
  • Slices of cheese (keep in a cooler while travelling)
  • Milk, if purchased outside of the beach area, yet close enough to destination (put in cooler!)
  • Lunch meat (keep in cooler while travelling)
  • Lunchables (keep in cooler while travelling)

In my opinion, the most important food supplies to take to the beach are the bottles of water and the Gatorade or Powerade. It is so easy to get dehydrated while in the sun all day. When you are at the beach, the vending machines might have these items, but be prepared to pay a ridiculous amount for them, such as $2 for a bottle of water. You are going to need a lot of water and possibly a lot of Gatorade. Why pay $3 for a small bottle of cold Gatorade when you can buy a large bottle on sale at your local Target for $1? You would be surprised at how much money you can save just buy providing your own beverages.

Look for Coupons

When you check-in at the motel or hotel, make sure to look through the lobby for books full of coupons. Just about any place offers these publications. If you are staying at a rented house or condo, look for the closest tourist information center or rest area. Most of these places also carry a number of different guides and coupon books. It also helps to look for coupons online before the big trip. Just make sure to print them out if you won't have access to a computer during the vacation.

Once you are in the room, you can review the coupons and guides to decide what kind of bargains are worth your time. Perhaps there are amusement park rides that are half-priced on particular days of the week. Maybe you can find a buy one meal, get one free meal deal at a local restaurant. If you really comb through the offers, you could very well find plenty of fun activities and not pay full-price for anything.

It's All About Fun!

Don't forget, this trip is all about having a good time. If at all possible, don't stress everyone else out on the trip about bargains and coupons. There are usually dollar stores at every boardwalk, so take the kids there for a shopping spree one day instead of constantly reminding them about coupons and how the best deal at one store doesn't start until the next day. Look for bargains, but don't let that become your only motivation.

It is a vacation and it should be relaxing. Don't be a Clark W. Griswold, like in the National Lampoon's Vacation movies. Maximum family fun time starts to drive everyone nuts if it becomes more of a chore than an adventure. So have a great time and, most of all, have a low-budget fun time!

Copyright ©2012 Jeannieinabottle

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Comments 20 comments

Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

I'm a Jersey Shore girl, and I LOVE that photo of the seagulls. Magnificent!

I'm also long overdue for a beach vacation. Should have done my beach-equipment shopping at the end of last season. :)

Excellent advice for cutting costs when merchants are there to make a killing in a few short months.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

No matter how well I pack, I always leave something really basic behind. Retailers count on people forgetting to bring basic items and then cashing in. Last year, I forgot to take aloe. Since I always burn easily, I should have remembered. I already bought a small bottle and packed it away for this year. They won't get me this time!

I am happy you enjoyed the seagulls photo. That is the great thing about bringing your own food. You can feed the leftovers to the birds on the last day at the beach. Of course, everyone hates you for it at the beach, but whatever. The birds are happy. :-)

Thanks for checking out my hub!


onlooker 4 years ago

Jeannie, very useful tips indeed. Planning a trip way ahead can save a lot. I totally agree with you on the end of summer sale prices are ridiculously low which makes a lot of sense if you're a smart consumer right =)

Thank you!


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi Jeannie, this has me longing for a vacation....

Excellent low budget tips and advice and a great hub, voted up!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

onlooker - Thanks so much! I am quite thrifty and try to use my bargain hunting skills in all areas of life.

Movie Master - I want to go on vacation now, too! :-) Thanks for the vote up!


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

Beautifully laid-out hub, Rose! I just love all the enthusiasm and colors that you always use. I LOVE the fact that you mention shopping at the end of the summer - I do that a LOT. Last year I got one of those canopies that is 10X10' and got it at over 50% off. This year, I think I might have to get a grill. :D


ChristyWrites profile image

ChristyWrites 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Great tips and I like the end photo too!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

cclitgirl - Thanks so much! I love shopping at the end of summer, too. It is so much cheaper to buy beach towels and pool toys at the end of summer. Also, it gives me something to look forward to all winter. :-)

ChristyWrites - I am glad you enjoyed it. Thanks! Everyone seems to love the bird photo. :-)


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Great ideas! This should be very helpful. I used to live at the beach. We had to leave to do most of our shopping. Suntan lotion and things of that nature were ridiculously priced.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Thank you! I never thought about the shopping aspect of living at the beach. I just always think it must be such fun. But you are right.... I guess you've got to travel far to get better deals. Thanks for sharing that info.


kelleyward 4 years ago

Love the pics and the tips! We always bring our own food to save money. When we drive to Florida from Oklahoma our car is packed to the max. I'll use some of these tips soon. Take care, Kelley


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Packing your own food can save so much money. It is also really convenient, too. When I get hungry in the middle of the night, I can always find a snack in the room. I don't have to roam around the motel looking for a vending machine. Thanks for visiting my hub!


Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

Thank you for these tips, Jeannie.. I have been yearning to travel to a beach and stay for at least a few days since I went to Coco Beach in Florida on vacation when I was teenager... Your tips are helping me to realize that it really is possible as long as we plan ahead and cut costs when we can. I never thought about it but many hotels do have microwaves and fridges which WOULD save tons of money eating out! It's just one of those things that I have never even thought about so thank you for bringing it to my attention.. I mean, that's a biggie when you have to plan for a trip out of town. Thank you again for ALL of these great tips.. great hub, Voting UP and awesome!!!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

I am really happy to help! I believe everyone should get to go to the beach. I absolutely love staying at least a couple of nights at the beach. It is great going to the beach and then walking right to the motel to clean off and then hit the boardwalk. Day trips are not the same, but I've done those as well. Thanks for the votes and I hope you get to go to the beach this summer.


ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 4 years ago from Reno, Nevada

Jeannie,

As a die hard fan of beaches...I found this info priceless. Although I missed September deals last year, I will remember this year. I'm always in the battle to find the perfect beach chair...usually everything falls together after that.

Being poor and relatively close to the beach (tho...it's Lake Tahoe now) we plan and execute copious amount of day trips...food, gas, and party favors and we are generally set.

Thanks,

Thomas


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

I am glad you enjoyed the hub, Thomas. I just can't wait to go to the beach again this year. I need a break! I am going to pretty much pack all of my food this time and try not to buy anything. I am going to be buying a jumbo sized box of Pop Tarts when I go to the store. They are on sale this weekend and they are perfect for breakfast and snacks. Now, if I can just stop myself from eating them all since I am not actually going to the beach for a few weeks. Thanks for the comment!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

We are fortunate to live near the ocean and enjoy occasional beach days. This is a great hub for those who need to know what to take. Love the coupon ideas. National Lampoon movies should be watched prior to this visit as it will keep us focused on "vacation"! Enjoyed your read here. Voted up!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

I am glad you enjoyed the hub. I keep thinking about the beach to get me through the work days... less than one month left to go for me! I am already stocking up on low-budget food. Thanks for checking out my hub!


Olde Cashmere profile image

Olde Cashmere 4 years ago from Michigan, United States

This hub is packed with many useful tips for a trip to the beach. I'm planning on a mini vacation soon and this is certainly of benefit for me. Thank you for sharing this. Voted up, useful, and awesome :)


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Thanks so much! I am happy you found the hub to be useful. I am going to the beach this week and I am taking two huge bags of food. Those prices for restaurants on the beach are just too much. Thanks for the votes!

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