My short trip to the beach with my sister earlier this year only added to the craving for a long family vacation. It doesn’t really matter when and I’m negotiable on the where. I do prefer an ocean view if at all possible. Basically, I just want to go back to the beach!
I don’t know about you all, but when I travel with my family, we have to predetermine where most of our money will go. In the spirit of that, I’m sharing my ideas for visiting the Beach on a Budget!
Today, we are going to focus on travel and accommodations, because that is where a big majority of your money will be spent. We all know there are great deals to be had out there if you have no set idea of where or when you are going to vacation. Some sites offer last-minute booking deals that are almost too good to be true. Unfortunately, if you have children or jobs outside of the home, you usually have to schedule these things ahead of time. That is the case for us, anyway, so I am going to assume most people have the same problem!
Let’s Talk About Travel
I know that sometimes you have no other alternative but to fly. I have seen flights for as low as $19 this year. Unfortunately, they are one way and it’s the way back that gets you right in the bank account!! ($19 there and $348 back does not work for me!) Also, most of the really cheap flights seem to only be from the biggest airports. I don’t happen to live close to any of those. Bummer. My advice if you are going to fly is to compare as many rates as you can and also compare them for different days of the week. It’s amazing how much cheaper it is to fly on certain days of the week, as opposed to close to the weekend.
There are also the options of bus and train travel. I’m not too keen on taking the bus, but the idea of the train intrigues me. It probably wouldn’t save us money though, because I would want to make frequent stops. Why bother traveling across the country if it’s only going to be whizzing by your window?!?
When we travel, we generally drive. It’s less expensive when you have several children and you can stop when you need to. Also, the lower the gas prices are, the more sense it makes to drive. It would be nearly impossible to fly my family to the beach and back for the less than $200 in gas we will use while driving (keep in mind, it also depends on which beach we choose and again, how high gas prices are at the time).
If you belong to any points clubs/survey sites, use them! Most of them offer gift cards for gas, food, and lodging in exchange for your points. Even if you don’t have enough points to use for vacation this year, you can bank them up for any trips you might take next year! I definitely recommend Swagbucks, InboxDollar, TopCashBack, and Ebates.
Accommodations Are Important
You have to have somewhere to stay right?!? Technically, you might be able to sleep on the beach, but in most places it’s frowned upon–if not illegal. Also, it’s probably not all that safe. Even if no one bothers you, you run the risk of getting swept out with the tide or waking up with a seagull trying to eat your snacks and a crab perched on your pillow. Doesn’t sound fun to me!
There are some great deals offered at hotels if that fits your family size. With a family of five, it has always been easier for us to rent a cabin, condo, or house. Especially after my boys started growing–it’s hard to fit three guys over six feet tall in one hotel room with a little girl and this fluffy momma! Talk about a hot mess!! The cost of two hotel rooms has yet to be justified as long as there is a house of some sort to rent.
Although prices have gone up a lot through the years, it is still less expensive for us to rent a cabin or condo. Two bedrooms generally work out just fine. Even though our boys have always hated sharing a bed, we manage to work it out as long as there is a couch in the vicinity! Having a rental with some sort of kitchen area has also saved us lots of money on food. (We’ll talk about that in our second installment of Beach on a Budget!)
The best piece of advice I can offer is to travel off-season if at all possible. Of course, off-season really depends on where you are going. Beach rentals tend to be much less expensive before Memorial Day (with the exclusion of Spring Break) and after Labor Day. Cabins in the mountains are often less pricey in the spring and early summer.
The second best piece of advice is check everywhere you can think off. Social sites often offer travel deals that are well worth looking into. Make sure and do a price comparison whenever possible. Also, don’t forget sites like VRBO. We’ve used them several times for beach vacations and it has saved us quite a bit of money!
Money Saving Tips To Remember:
- Travel in the off-season or last-minute if your schedule permits
- Drive if at all possible
- Use accrued points to purchase gas, food, and hotel gift cards
- Do price comparisons and check multiple travel sites for the best deals
How do you save money when you travel? Share it with us here and don’t forget to stay tuned for money saving menu ideas!
Update: Visit Beach On a Budget: Menu Ideas & Food Savings for a vacation menu and some money saving tips!