5 Tips for Cheap Beach Vacations
Cheap beach vacations are about a lot more than a great hotel deal; they're about saving on every part of your trip. Here are 5 tips to help you get your sand and sun in style for less.
1. Cheap Beach Vacations - Tip 1
Location, location, location. As much as you may be tempted, don't go as far away as possible. Transportation costs (covered below) can be prohibitive, but you also just plain don't need to go to the furthest reaches of the earth to get your tan on. Consider the continental USA - Myrtle Beach and Florida, for example, have terrific beach resorts. After that, look to the west: Hawaii has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, and you don't need a passport, a fancy cell phone plan or even a currency change. If you're on the east side of the USA, look for direct flights from your town to the Caribbean and let availability narrow your search. After that, head to our AOL Travel Guides to find the best hotels in your price range.
2. Cheap Beach Vacations - Tip 2
Getting there is half the ... bill? No, no, no. First of all, try to book your flight and hotel together on a site like Travelocity or Expedia to save on both. If you don't see an affordable fare and you still have a couple of months, set up an alert with AirfareWatchdog or a similar service to find out when a decent fare becomes available. If you listened to us for Tip #1 and are staying inside the continental USA, check out the revamped Greyhound Bus situation (we're talking wifi and everything), or consider taking a train or bus, or even driving to your destination. Do the math first though; sometimes, gas prices add up to more than airfare.
3. Cheap Beach Vacations - Tip 3
Starvation is not the answer. There is cheap food. You just have to know where to find it. Investigate the awesome authentic street food, stash snacks in your suitcase before you go and make sure you know where the nearest grocery or convenience store is to your hotel. Last resort? Ask at your hotel; the staff will probably find your candor charming.
4. Cheap Beach Vacations - Tip 4
Like to drink? We're not judging. You're on vacation. You can spend a lot of money on booze without realizing it. Be careful. Pay by the drink at clubs so that you know what you're spending (and in case someone wants to buy you one -- could happen!). Some beaches will let you bring a cooler of beer, which is almost always cheaper than buying it there, so check out the rules in advance. Consider keeping your favorite nightcap in the room to avoid late-night excursions to expensive bars. Lastly, if you're feeling truly broke, arm yourself with the old-school wonder that is the flask and discreetly spike your cheap soft drinks -- but don't tell anyone you heard that from us (and don't be surprised if you get thrown out of a bar if you get caught)!
5. Cheap Beach Vacations - Tip 5
Kids eat free -- and a lot more than that if you play your cards right. Bringing your brood? Well, it just so happens that beach destinations want you, and they want you bad. They assume, and rightly so, that you bringing your family means you're going to spend more money. And you probably will. Still, investigate hotels and attractions in your chosen destination which offer freebies for kids like activity programs, complimentary meals and more. The additional bonus you'll get with free programs for kids is time alone with your spouse or significant other: priceless.
Photo by jerine via Flickr.
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