Temperatures are warming up, and the sand and surf are calling.
A day at the beach is a great and inexpensive summer activity, but costs can creep up if you’re not careful.
Here are some tips on keeping your summer beach costs down:
If you can easily drive to a beach, you know that it’s hard to find parking spots there. Both private and public beaches can charge an outrageous amount to park.
If you have four people going to the beach and parking is $20 a car, why take two separate cars? Carpool and split the cost among everyone.
2. Bring your own food
There are usually plenty of food trucks, food carts and seaside restaurants around beaches, but the food can be overpriced.
One of the best ways to save money when you visit the beach is to bring a cooler of your own food. Prepare some sandwiches, throw in some fruit or other snacks, drinks, a bag of ice, and you’re good to go.
3. Buy food away from the beach
If you are going to bring your own food to the beach, consider buying groceries outside the beach town. Food prices tend to be almost double in high tourist areas because local markets know they can jack up the prices and people will pay.
4. Stay cheap
Consider booking a room in a motel or renting out someone’s summer house. You might not have a beautiful room, but there’s a good chance you’ll be paying significantly less, and the purpose of visiting the beach is to be outside, not in your room all day.
It’s also a great time to consider camping in areas where that’s acceptable. Get a tent and fall asleep to the sound of the waves.
5. Get a non-waterfront hotel
If you want to stay in a hotel, renting a room in a hotel that is not on the waterfront will save you money. Hotels close to the beach tend to be more expensive than hotels that are farther away from the beach, but sometimes the distance is no more than a few blocks and easily walkable.
6. Find free activities
While it might be tempting to rent jet skis or go scuba diving, those costs can climb quickly. Think about what you can do on a lower budget. For example, get some cheap snorkeling gear and explore the waters that way, instead of spending money on a scuba excursion.
7. Avoid beachfront stores
Beachfront stores are filled with touristy junk -- poorly made knickknacks that will fall apart and beach equipment that is overpriced. For example, you might find beach umbrellas there for twice the amount you’d find miles away.
Buy your towels, chairs, bags and umbrellas before you go on vacation or at a non-beach-related store away from the hotels and beaches.
This is a basic need for any vacation, but it’s easy to look at a few days at the beach and think you won’t spend much money. You’ll probably be right, but there are other things on which you might spend your money, such as food, entertainment or souvenirs. Going on vacation without a set budget can easily cause you to spend more money than you intended.
9. Go during the offseason
Offseason is a relative term for a beach vacation. Offseason on Cape Cod is much different than it is in Florida.
Offseasons are generally from September to November or late February to early May. You’ll find that hotels and flights are cheaper and they’ll be less hassle while you’re visiting the beach and other attractions.
Many large, popular beaches are near many different amenities and attractions. You might want to see what type of public transportation is available or if you’ll need to rent a car. If there is a decent public transportation system, take advantage of it instead of renting a car.
Better yet, if everything you need is nearby, walk everywhere.
If you’re planning day activities, your hotel might also have free shuttle services.
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