by Leah Ingram
Recently, we spent a long weekend at the beach. While I left my hotel confirmation number at home, I didn’t forget my frugal ways. Here are some of the tricks we used to save about $100 a day on our vacation.
- BYOB. That would stand for “bring your own breakfast.” We were able to do that because the hotel where we stayed offered a kitchenette with a full-size refrigerator. Not only did we stock it with a gallon of milk (brought frozen from home), boxes of cereal and the fixings for my morning cup of Joe, but also it was packed with watermelon, bread for sandwiches and much more. Breakfast in the restaurant downstairs would have put our family of our back $30. Instead, we ate for free in our room. Later in the evening we pooled funds with some of the other families that we were traveling with and bought food for a cookout. For $10 a person we ate like kings. Had we gone to a restaurant and had as much food as we did at our home-grown fiesta–appetizers, dinner, wine, dessert–we would have spent at least double that per person.
- Be smart about how you buy your souvenirs. Jen A. Miller, author of The Jersey Shore, Atlantic City through Cape May: Great Destinationssuggests hitting up the local CVS or Walgreens for souvenirs. They’ll still “say” the place you’re visiting but just not at the same price–cheaper! Since my daughters wanted custom sweatshirts that the shops along the beach boardwalk offered, drugstore shopping wasn’t an option. However, we discovered that the farther down the boardwalk we walked, the cheaper the prices got. So a sweatshirt that would have cost us $50 in the first shop we visited ended up setting us back only $30 by getting it in a boardwalk shop about a half mile farther down the strip.
- Carpool, park and walk whenever possible. The night we visited the boardwalk mentioned above, we could have parked in a lot right next to the shops. But that would have cost $20 per car. Instead, we found street parking a few blocks away and pumped the meter full of enough quarters (or about $4) to buy us four hours of fun on the boardwalk. Then we walked the eight blocks or so to the boardwalk.
- Travel on an off-season weekend. Though we were at the beach on Father’s Day weekend, that still wasn’t considered to be high season. Had we traveled just a week later, our room would have cost $90 more a night. So when you’re looking to get away, investigate which weeks hotels consider to be “off season” and book for then. You may save as much per night as we did.
Let me know some of your tips for saving cash when you go away.