the beach at NSB.

Think you can’t afford a beach getaway? Here’s how you can

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The beach is a dream destination for those looking for a relaxing escape. But it can also be an expensive vacation, especially as travel costs keep rising. If you want a beach getaway, these tips can help you plan a low-cost trip without sacrificing your favorite beach activities.

Blue umbrella and a beach chair.
Photo credit: Depositphotos.

Where to find savings on beach vacations

Sun, waves, ocean activities and peaceful relaxation — a beach vacation offers something to please every traveler. But prices have increased with recent inflation, which has travelers rethinking their options.

According to a recent survey by Forbes, 46% said they would change their travel plans in 2024 due to rising costs, potentially shortening travel, choosing less desirable destinations and canceling trips altogether.

Before you cancel your beach trip, look for savings instead. Food, accommodations and travel are the biggest expenses on a vacation. With some planning and research, you can find savings on these expenses.

sunrise at New smyrna beach.
Photo Credit: Lara Clevenger.

Tips to save money on beach accommodations

Accommodations are a significant cost on most beach trips. Hotels, resorts and vacation rentals with easy beach access are often in high demand and are priced accordingly. Cut your accommodation expenses with these tips.

Choose a budget-friendly destination

You’ll find low-cost beaches on both U.S. coasts. Beach towns like Daytona Beach and New Smyrna Beach in northeast Florida and along with some of these other beaches on east coast. Daytona Beach is a year-round destination packed with things to do, including a boardwalk, speedway, museums and more. You’ll want to stay away from some of the more popular California Beaches, because those are more touristy and tend to be more expensive.

Travel during the shoulder season

Beaches are generally busiest at the height of summer and hotels will cost more. Opt to travel in the two months before or after the peak season, often called the “shoulder season,” when AAA notes that hotels lower their prices. You’ll also see fewer crowds, but the weather will still be nice while you enjoy the sun and water.

Camp at the beach

Beach camping offers some of the cheapest beachside accommodations you can find. With national parks, state parks and private campgrounds at many beaches, you can find options for beach camping for both tents and RVs. Some beach campgrounds will even let you camp right on the sand for unbeatable ocean access.

Opt for a shorter trip

Each night’s accommodation can add a few hundred dollars to a trip. Cutting a few days off of your trip — turning a week-long trip into a five-day trip, for instance — will reduce costs, yet give you plenty of time to enjoy the vacation.

Driftwood Beach, black sand beach.
Photo Credit: Lara Clevenger.

Plan ahead

The other top way to save on your beach getaway is to start thinking about your trip as soon as possible. Anitria Roberts, travel advisor and owner of Travel by AJ, LLC, notes that, “The key to planning an affordable beach vacation is to book in advance. Planning at least nine months to one year in advance of your desired travel dates will provide the best rates as well as availability. If your plans are flexible, consider travel during the weekdays when hotel and airfare prices are lower than during the weekend.”

Pack smart and save on essentials

When prepping for your beach escape, savvy packing can be a game-changer for your budget. Opt for multi-functional clothing pieces that offer mix-and-match possibilities, minimizing the need for extra outfits. Tote along reusable water bottles and snacks to dodge costly convenience store splurges. Remember to stash sunscreen and toiletries in compact travel-friendly containers to sidestep pricey hotel purchases. Bringing along beach essentials like towels, umbrellas, and toys can also help trim down rental expenses. And for those refreshing beachside beverages and snacks, consider packing a cooler to sidestep pricey beachfront purchases.

Explore the local, free scene

Add a touch of magic to your beach escape by exploring nearby attractions and free-spirited adventures. Venture beyond the typical tourist spots to discover authentic cultural delights and breathtaking sights that will make your heart flutter. Seek out complimentary walking tours, charming public parks, and Instagram-worthy viewpoints for a budget-friendly journey. Dive into the local scene by indulging in festivals, shopping at vibrant markets, or soaking up the culture at no or low-cost events.

Look for package deals and special offers

Keep your eyes peeled for irresistible package deals and exclusive offers to elevate your beach getaway without breaking the bank. Resorts and travel agencies often roll out bundled packages that include accommodations, activities, and even meals at discounted rates. Dive into online travel platforms or subscribe to newsletters for the latest scoop on limited-time deals and special promotions. Stay flexible and ready to seize last-minute offers for maximum savings.

the beach at NSB.
Photo Credit: Lara Clevenger.

Travel affordably with budget-friendly transportation

Getting to your destination is another expense for a beach vacation. Airfare costs can leave you spending a large portion of your vacation budget on travel.

If you are traveling by plane, these tips can reduce the cost of airfare to popular beach destinations:

  • Find the dates with the best fares: If your travel dates are flexible, plan your trip when flights are most affordable. Travel apps can often help you pinpoint these dates. Kayak, for example, has a best time to travel tool that will find the best prices based on your destination and trip length.
  • Fly midweek: According to data compiled by Google Flights, the best prices on plane flights are for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday flights. Booking your flights for these days can save you 12% on airfare.
  • Travel light with a carry-on: Many airlines charge for checking a bag. Plan your packing list carefully to fit everything you’ll need in a carry-on to avoid those checked bag fees.

Turn a beach trip into a road trip

If you are within driving distance of the coast, you can save on travel by driving instead of flying. Driving is often significantly cheaper than airfare, and it gives you the opportunity to make your trip into more than just a beach vacation. As you plan your road trip, look for interesting stops and overnight stays along the way to break up the drive.

Daytona Beach
Photo Credit: Yayimages.

Save on food and dining on a beach vacation

Limiting what you spend on food will help you stick to a budget on your beach getaway. Eating meals at restaurants can add up quickly, so reducing the number of meals eaten out is a great opportunity to save.

  • Book a hotel with a free breakfast: With your breakfast included in your accommodation cost, you’ll only have to pay for two meals per day.
  • Get a room with a kitchenette: If your hotel room has a refrigerator and microwave, you can keep some snacks and quick lunches on hand. Stock up at the grocery store at the beginning of your trip and limit how often and how much you have to eat out.
  • Get a vacation rental with a full kitchen: When traveling with a group, renting a condo can be more cost-effective than hotel rooms. Having a full kitchen means you can save money on your meals. Try fresh, local seafood in this quick cioppino recipe. Easy and delicious, it will taste as luxurious as a restaurant meal without the cost.

Enjoy a beach getaway without breaking the bank

If you want to get a beach vacation on the calendar this year, don’t let the cost deter you. Escaping to the beach can be an affordable trip with some advance planning and a few steps to save on travel, food and lodging. Without having to worry about your budget, you’ll be free to enjoy the sun and sand.

The perfect beach getaway doesn’t have to drain your bank account. By being resourceful, flexible, and savvy with your planning, you can enjoy the sun, sand, and surf without breaking the bank.

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