We’re dreaming of sunny days here at Travel Manner, and we bet you are too. Whether you’re a fan of relaxing with your favorite beachside drink or you’re the adventurous type who wants to get out there and scuba dive from dawn until dusk, one thing’s for certain: beach vacations can be expensive.
However, the good news is that nowadays there are a ton of different ways to vacation at the beach. You don’t have to stay in a resort or eat every meal at a boardwalk restaurant. Take a look at our suggestions for how to make your beach vacation come true on a dime.
Compare Driving and Flying
As is true when you plan any vacation, you’ll have to do your research to find the best deals on transportation to your beach destination. Many people find that the cheapest way to get to the beach is to look on Google Maps, find the beach that’s closest to them geographically, and pack up the car.
Before you do that, make sure that it wouldn’t be cheaper to fly. Use Google Flights, Skyscanner, or any other flight price-checking tool you like to find out. Set up price alerts so that you’re notified when the price changes. Compare the average cost of flights with the average cost of the gas you’d need to get there and back.
While the price of a flight may change, at some point, you just have to make the decision. You can’t predict the future, and if you see a good deal, you should snap it up. If driving is clearly going to be the cheaper option, then you should plan on a road trip instead.
If you hate long car rides or you’re really looking forward to visiting a specific beach that’s too far to drive to, see if there’s another area where you can cut back on your budget so that you can spend more on transportation and book the flight instead.
Read More: Get Away From It All at These Hidden Beaches
Look for Unique Accommodations
There are only so many ways you can get from Point A (home) to Point B (the beach). It may take you half a day or less to research how much it would cost to drive versus fly, and that’s including the time it takes to look up predicted future gas prices. On the other hand, you could spend weeks looking at all the potential accommodations out there, especially in popular areas like Miami, Orlando, and Corpus Christi. Luckily, you don’t have to.
Start by searching for state parks with accommodations on or near beaches. While state parks don’t have the same amenities that hotels offer, they do come with one big perk: they’re much less expensive. Because of this, they tend to book up fast. Reserve your lodgings ahead of time so that you’re guaranteed the accommodations you want.
If you’re planning to spend the largest part of your vacation budget on accommodations, you may want to book a hotel room, Airbnb, or VRBO instead. When you choose to book a rental with a kitchen, you’re guaranteed to save on food costs.
Not sure when to book your hotel room? The answer depends on several factors. According to SmarterTravel, the best time to book is either well in advance or right before your trip. Also, if you can book without putting down a deposit or paying for the room, then you should! That way, you can cancel the reservation and book a better deal if one comes up.
Vacation in the Off-Season
If you want to visit the beach during a popular time of year, be prepared to pay premium prices. Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, as well as spring break and some weeks in the summer, all tend to be much more expensive than in the spring and the fall. While the water won’t be as warm later in the year, your wallet will thank you.
Read More: These Beaches Have the Biggest Waves in the World
Choose Less Popular Beaches
Myrtle Beach and Santa Monica may be two of the most popular beaches in the United States for a reason, but that doesn’t mean that they’re the only beaches you can visit. In fact, many popular beaches have become tourist traps that you might want to avoid because of that very popularity.
If you’d rather avoid the crowds and stay somewhere with a sandy beach that’s not overflowing with tourists, research the nearby beach towns. You may be surprised by the deals you find!
Being flexible is so important. The travel industry changes frequently, and when certain destinations become more sought-after, then other destinations that were once super-popular may decrease in price. Keep an open mind and be flexible if possible – but also, don’t drive yourself crazy with “What ifs?” because that will take away from the joy of your vacation. Decide what you’re willing to compromise on, and what you really want your budget to go towards the most.
Read More: Why The Beach Is The Perfect Vacation Destination