Imagine a beautiful seashore, the waves rushing up around you. Now imagine that entire trip being convenient, and cost effective. My husband and I love going to the beach, and we especially love spending as little money as possible.
How is it possible?
- Take trips to state parks, rather than expensive beach towns.
We visited Cape Henlopen this year in Delaware. It was a two-hour drive from our house, so it is something we can do for a day, or we can go for a week. The state park has a campground, so when we want to get away for a few days we take a tent and our furry companion and go!
State Parks normally cater to RVs and have cabins as well, for those who are not comfortable with an air mattress and using the joint bathing facilities.
With low daily rates, and fewer opportunities to park with our money (no boardwalk = no impulse buys), we have a much more relaxed time.
- Pack your own food.
We take a large cooler, dried goods, and do not eat at restaurants. Those little snacks, impulse purchases, and “cheap” meals add up quickly. Instead, we choose one or two places to dine at in the evening throughout the week. This allows us to feel like we got special treats while at the same time saving money overall.
- Bring your own equipment or rent it.
Yes. I said rent the bikes and the kayaks. Hear me out. If you don’t already have a bike or a kayak, and you are not the type of person who would use them more than once or twice a season. The upkeep permits (boats/kayaks, etc.), and maintenance can cost you more than they are worth to own. This is an instance where renting makes more sense. Especially at a state park, because the costs are not usually inflated compared to beach towns.
- Hit up free entertainment throughout the season.
In the summer, many of the local towns have live bands and free movie nights. We’ve driven to the closest town, and it still feels like a fun vacation activity because it is all new to us, and the beach atmosphere makes it especially fun. We try to plan these days with a single boardwalk exploration or one of our fancy dinners. That way we have dedicated time to spend if we want to.
- Bring some friends!
Many state parks allow you have a certain number of tents or people per site. If you are frugal and have friends you feel you can share the space with, this is even more cost effective. Most tent sites are thirty dollars a day or less. If you take another family with you, or another set of couples, you can have a fun vacation with friends that make memories and won’t break the bank!
But make sure that you really can get along in those circumstances because relaxation is the key.
- Head to the beach during the off-season.
Many parks discount their rates outside of the summer months. This means that there is often no lifeguard, so swimming is usually either prohibited or at your own risk. But, if you are like me, you go more to look at at the ocean then to swim.
Check with your local beach of choice for discounts, permitted activities, and other incentives to go in the fall or spring!
- Budget your spending, and stick to it
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but we’ve all planned on a budget, said we were going to stick to it, and then just saw the one thing we “had” to have. Or we didn’t count “little” purchases. If you want to have a nice vacation without worrying about the cost you really do have to have clear spending limits and stick to them.
One popular tip, that really does work, is the cash envelope system. My husband and I each get a certain amount to spend, we put the amounts in an envelope for each of us, and when it is gone, it is gone! No worries about the debit card, keeping track of bank accounts, or checking balances.
Have a fun and safe beach vacation! – Aster