How to Save Money When Planning a Beach Vacation
Planning a beach vacation doesn't have to break your budget! By following some tried-and-true tips, you and your family can have an affordable beach vacation without sacrificing any of the fun. How? We're glad you asked. Here are a few things smart travelers do that will help you have the best and most budget-friendly beach vacation ever.
1. Plan Ahead
Giving yourself time to plan ahead for a vacation is a crucial element. It allows you to do most of the following steps in this post without feeling pressured or stressed. Advanced planning also gives you the freedom to explore your options and put a solid vacation plan in place. Of course, booking accommodations, attractions and other vacation experiences ahead of time can also save you money. So do yourself a favor, and think ahead. Plan your time and your money—and research, research, research. Your time and effort translate into more dollars in your vacation bank!
2. Set a Budget
Smart vacationers know that setting a budget helps you and your family to be able to fully enjoy your vacation without stressing about the cost. Be realistic and know what you can afford. Yes, it's a vacation and it should feel like one; but no you shouldn't break the bank because of it. When you start planning ahead (see #1) you also allow time to plan your trip, set a budget, and save funds for your beach vacation. You won't be trying to scrape up cash or limit your activities because you waited too long to save what you need.
3. Choose a Vacation Rental
Renting a beach vacation home or condo is typically more affordable than a hotel or motel stay, especially if you're traveling with family or friends. What you gain in choosing a vacation rental over a hotel/motel room (think better privacy, more space, more personalization, a kitchen, extra bathrooms, etc) translates into more bang for your vacation buck. Also, vacation rentals are usually more affordable when you rent them for an entire week, as opposed to just a few days. You definitely want to vacation for at least a week anyway, right? Right. Vacation homes and condos can meet your specific needs and wants by providing the amenities that are important to you and your family, instead of settling for a cookie-cutter stay in a place that's geared toward meeting the average needs of the average vacationer. Don't settle for less!
4. Research Free Things To Do
If you don't find out what things are available to you for free, how will you know? It's always good to explore all of your options in order to make the wisest decisions on where to spend your hard-earned vacation money. Finding places that you're interested in that don't cost any money translates into more money for the other attractions you and your family want to visit during your vacation. It also adds to your vacation itinerary by giving you family-friendly outings that everyone can enjoy. Most beach vacation destinations are located in or near bigger cities where you have an increased chance to find more free things to do. Perfect examples of places that often offer free admission (or perhaps a voluntary donation) are museums, local festivals and events, historic sites, local parks and playgrounds, fishing piers, boardwalks—and the beach, of course. Here at Plumlee Gulf Beach Realty, we offer our guests some amazing free vacation perks just for choosing to stay with us including free bikes, free DVDs, and more. This allows you to plan a family bike day around town or a family movie night in the comfort of your own rental for absolutely no charge.
5. Decide on Activities & Attractions in AdvanceKnowing which beach vacation activities and attractions you want to do and planning ahead for them has several benefits. First, you have time to save money for the cost and you know what fits into your budget (see #2). This is especially true for bigger ticket items like charter fishing, sightseeing cruises, amusement parks and water parks, and dive trips. Secondly, you have time to get to know what choices you have and do research into what you and your family are most interested in seeing and doing. Finally, you have the time and opportunity to watch for deals, discounts and coupons. Many area attractions offer discounts for booking in advance or online via their website. Find out if there are any extra perks or other discounts available through your vacation rental company. Look for coupon books or bundled discount packages on popular attractions in your vacation area. For example, if you're vacationing on Florida's Gulf Coast, the Tampa Bay CityPass is an awesome way to save over 51% on the best and most popular attractions, while also saving you time by avoiding the lines. Why pay more than you need to? Don't do it!
6. Check for Online Deals
You most definitely want to keep a close eye on potential savings when planning your budget-friendly beach vacation. Google your attraction and see what comes up. Check the attraction's website as well as follow any social media sites where they have a presence, as those are really great places to find out about upcoming discounts and coupons. Follow your vacation rental company on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for the very same reasons. Throughout the year there are usually online contests and other fun ways to win free things. It's totally worth your time to watch these things over time to see what comes up. Groupon and Living Social are also viable online options for finding a good deal on area attractions and places of interest.
7. Prepare a Meal Plan
Other than your accommodation cost and any big-ticket attractions, the other big expense to consider during your vacation is your meal planning and spending. Dining out every single day of your vacation can add up really quickly. It's always prudent to have a plan of action in place for how you're going to spend your dining dollars. Planning to make some of your own meals, as opposed to going out, is an instant money-saver. This is why we love vacation rentals and their accompanying kitchen amenities. It is so much easier to eat in when you have what you need to do it. You don't have to plan anything elaborate (unless you want to!) and everyone can pitch in during the meal planning and preparation. If you're vacationing with extended family, each person can have a day or meal to be responsible for and before you know it, you have a vacation meal plan ready to go. It's that easy! You can schedule in your days to dine out too, so everyone knows what to expect ahead of time. It's a really wonderful vacation tool to implement when it comes to organization, preparation and money management. What's not to love?
We hope you've found these budget-friendly vacation ideas helpful and motivating! Isn't it time you started planning for your next beach vacation?
Do you have any money-saving tips to share when planning for a beach vacation? We'd love to hear them!