The Ultimate Guide to Beaching on a Budget
For families looking to take a vacation, some of the most popular destinations involve beautiful, silky-sanded beaches. The warm weather, abundant sunshine, and cool water which are often associated with beach-centric vacations make them attractive destinations for travelers. The fact that it rarely costs money to actually attend a beach means that they can be especially attractive to travelers who must adhere to a tight budget. With a few well-proven tips and hacks, couples, families, and solo travelers planning a beach vacation can save as much money as possible.
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Finding the Right Beach
The warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico make Florida and the Gulf Coast some of the more obvious beach vacation destinations. Florida in particular is known for its soft-sand, warm waters, and the charm of their beach towns. Whether you check out Panama City Beach in the panhandle or travel further south to Siesta Key — ranked first on Forbes’ 2017 rankings of the best beaches in America — you can find the beach vacation of your dreams in the Sunshine State.
Still, others may prefer non-Florida, Gulf Coast beach locations such as those in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and Biloxi, Mississippi. These locations tend to be a bit more affordable than destinations further north on the Atlantic, and like we mentioned, those warm Gulf waters are tough to beat. Once you have decided which beach city is right for you and your family, you can begin to figure out the many ways to save money on a beach vacation.
Save on Travel by Booking Early
The first step in saving on any vacation is booking early. Flights and rates tend to be cheaper the further in advance that you book them. Booking early can be a bit intimidating because, after all, things do change in life. But if you do your research and are certain of the destination and time frame your trip will involve, booking early is an obvious way to save some cash.
NerdWallet explains the best ways to go about booking flights early, and the perks of using a credit card that provides travel-related cash back or other benefits. If you are planning to drive to your destination, compare different routes to find the most efficient one, considering the availability of affordable hotels if you will need multiple days to reach your destination.
Forego the Hotel, Find a Vacation Rental
Beach towns are home to many real estate agencies and individuals who offer great deals on vacation rentals. These rental homes and condominiums are not only cozier and more reminiscent of the true beach experience, they often cost much less than hotels, as Coupon Closet notes.
Sites such as VRBO specialize in matching travelers with rental properties that fit their needs and budget. No matter the destination, these sites will help you find a property that will serve as the centerpiece for a memorable beach-centric vacation. Forego the stuffy, traditional hotel experience and find a property with your own kitchen, a heck of a view, and a sense of privacy.
Cook at Home
As noted, one perk of vacation rentals are that they most often have a fully equipped kitchen. Shopping for groceries and preparing your own meals is one way to save immensely on travel expenses.
Frugal Rules explains that beach towns who cater to tourists make much of their money by charging much more for meals and drinks than restaurants in less scenic locations would. When you go out to eat in most beach towns, the cost of the view is often included within a given restaurant’s food and drink menus. Avoid these unnecessary costs, cook your meals at home, then head to the beach and reap all the benefits of the soft sand as you soak up the sunshine.
Can you feel yourself relaxing as you read about the perks of a trip to the beach? A cold (yet homemade) daiquiri, a good book, and feet in the cool sand seem practically within reach. How could you not be tempted to spend your next vacation in a beach town? Gulf Coast beach towns can be affordable and extremely fun, but you have to plan wisely in order to mitigate the costs of travel. Fortunately, rental properties, home cooking, and early booking are three of the ways proven to result in major travel savings for beach-going tourists.