Low-Budget Tips for the Beach
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.
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
- 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.
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
- Paper plates
- 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
- 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.
Start Planning Your Beach Trip
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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