Whether you’re travelling solo, as a couple, as a group of friends or as a family, going on a beach vacation will cost you. In order to get to your destination, you have to either fly or drive, requiring you to spend money on gas or airline tickets. Then, there’s the accommodations, food and beach activities. For a cheap beach vacation, you’ll need to combine your bargaining skills with your creativity. We promise you, the results are amazing!
If you don’t watch how you spend your money, you could easily come home broke or even with credit – especially if you splurged on hotel rooms or pricey beach activities. The fact that you’re a tourist might also cause the locals to see you as a poor victim who can easily be ripped off your hard-earned money.
So what can you do in order to enjoy the sun, sand and surf – but without breaking the bank? The good news is that there are plenty of ways that you can save money on your beach vacation, which we will learn more about here.
Ways to Achieve a Cheap Beach Vacation
The most important thing to keep in mind when planning a beach vacation is that you should plan it in advance. This is especially true if you need to fly to your tropical beach destination. Although there’s nothing wrong in going on a weekend trip on impulse, doing the same thing for a beach vacation might drain your wallet.
By planning in advance, you can look for great deals, decide which activities are worth your money and which ones you should not splurge on. You can also save money by taking advantage of early bird discounts and similar offers. In detail, here are the ways that you can save money on a beach vacation – starting from the planning stage to when you’re already at your destination:
Look for a beach that’s inexpensive in the first place.
Naturally, you need to decide exactly where to go. When deciding to try out for a cheap beach vacation, you will save money if you will choose an inexpensive destination in the first place. Those that fall into this category are beach destinations which do not charge tourists an arm and a leg for accommodations, food and beach activities.
So how would you know which beach destinations are not that expensive to visit? For this, you would need to do a lot of research. In the US, for example, there’s a place called “America’s New Zealand”. It is Cannon Beach in the state of Oregon and it definitely gives you that New Zealand-y feel to it. The drawback is that it is not that packed with tourists, making it perfect for those who would like to enjoy a quiet yet on-the-budget vacation.
Aside from the beach itself, you can check out the Tillamook Rock Light House, Sandpiper Square and Ecola State Park. If you’re on a really tight budget, you can plan a road trip and use the local RV parks in the area. Who’s up for a cheap beach vacation?
If Hawaii is your dream beach destination, go to the Island of Maui. Specifically, it’s Lahaina that you would like to use as your vacation destination. The Ka’anapali Beach Hotel offers discounted airline tickets, free rental cars and low rates for hotel rooms – especially for early bookers. Other cheap beach destinations in the US include:
- Cape Ann, Masschusetts
- Cherry Grove Beach, South Carolina
- El Capitan Canyon, Santa Barbara, California
- Huntington Beach, California
- Lake Casco, Maine
- Outer Banks, North Carolina
- Saint Pete Beach, Florida
- Williamsburg, Virginia
Travel during the off-peak season.
When you travel to even the most popular beach destination during the off-season, you are bound to find great deals. If you’re a single parent with two kids who are making your ears bleed with their request to go to Disney World, it will definitely cost you if you will go during Easter vacation – because most of the other kids have the same idea.
When planning a beach vacation, consider travelling during the off-peak season, when not a lot of tourists are booked on flights. Having a cheap beach vacation is really not that hard!
After Labor Day is a great time to take advantage of lower rates, although you need to creatively fix your schedule to make room for the beach break. If you are flying off to an exotic beach destination somewhere in Asia, do your research about when the off-peak season is. In tropical countries, travelers flock year-round but there should be that pocket of months when the rates are not-so-high.
Look for cheap accommodations.
Unless you’re taking advantage of all-inclusive travel packages, it will save you a lot of money if you will skip the chain hotels and look for alternative accommodations. There are budget bed-and-breakfasts, inns, hostels, villas, mom-and-pop hotels, guesthouses, apartment rentals, vacation cottages and similar accommodations that you can book.
If you’re open to roughing it, you can even look for RV parking spaces or a place where you can setup camp. The adventurous ones can look for couch surfing setups or house sitting services – there are many websites where you can find great deals for that. Enjoy your cheap beach vacation and take pride in the discount you got!
Make a budget for the whole trip – and stick to it.
How many people are going on the trip? If you’re travelling with the family, have a rough estimate of how much the entire trip is going to cost. Decide on an approximate amount of how much you’re going to spend per day for each person, and you should have an idea about what your budget should be. Once set, stick to your budget although it does pay to make little room for souvenir items to bring home and other unexpected expenses.
Save money on food and drinks.
One of the biggest expenses that vacationers have to make room for is food – but only because they think that they need to eat out three times a day. If you’re booking a hotel, look for deals which offer free buffet breakfast, lunch or dinner. There are similar deals for alternative accommodations like inns and bed-and-breakfasts, especially ones which are managed by small entrepreneurs.
If you are living in an RV or camping out, buy your own staples at a grocery shop or superstore. It will save you a lot of money along the way. The same thing holds true for drinks, have a cooler where you can store cans of beer and soda.
If you can stay somewhere with a kitchen, you can simply cook your own meals and save lots of money in the process. If you’re going to have a cheap beach vacation, it doesn’t mean you’ll feel deprived, just more aware of every penny you have in your pocket.
Save money on water sports and other outdoor activities.
Renting a jet ski, zip lining, going on an ATV ride – all these are beach-related activities that will cost you a lot of money during your vacation. Again, research is key if you want to enjoy the beach without having to spend too much. After deciding where you are headed, do a quick search on free or nearly free activities that you can do in the area.
During your first day, you can simply enjoy the sun, sand and surf which are of course free. Other cheap activities that you can plan are nature walks, exploring caves or light houses, fishing, snorkeling or following a bike trail. Ask the proprietor of the establishment you’re staying if they can recommend free activities or places that you can visit near the area.
You can also buy a cheap map or guide book at the tourist center of the place you’re visiting to have ideas about where you should head to in between soaks at the beach. A cheap beach vacation is so much rewarding than an expensive one!
Use your credit card reward points, apps and discount vouchers.
If you’re in a foreign country and you have no idea where everything is, you might think about paying for a guided tour to get you from one sightseeing attraction to another. This will take a significant chunk out of your travelling budget, so why not download a map on your phone instead? You can use it to navigate through the city or town that you’re visiting.
You can also download apps that will let you know where the nearest restaurant, ATM or hotel is. Other apps like GasBuddy lets you know which gas station offers the cheapest gas rates – even a 10 cent difference in the price will go a long way. Travel apps and apps that will help you pass the time during long drives are a must-have. A cheap beach vacation must contain…a beach to begin with, so make sure you have access to one, but without paying a lot of money.
Also, you can use credit card reward points and discount vouchers to cut back on what you have to pay for restaurants, hotel rooms, entrance tickets to sightseeing attractions, etc. If possible, look for a travel-related credit card that will give you plenty of rewards once you are already starting with your beach vacation planning.
If possible, use public transportation rather than hailing a cab at your destination because taxi fare can also put a big dent on your travelling budget.
As you can see, there are many ways for you to have a cheap beach vacation. So what are you waiting for? Pack those beach outfits, sunglasses, sunscreen and flip-flops – then head over to your ultimate beach vacation destination!