Find Economical Lodging
If the purpose of this vacation is to go to the beach--to play in the sand, read on the beach, sleep in the sun or play in the water, don't waste your money on a fancy hotel room you are only in while sleeping. Start planning early and explore different types of lodging:
- Condominium or rental house: The more people who are joining you, the better deal a condo or rental house will be compared to a hotel. Most come with full kitchens so you can prepare your own meals--meals that are better for the kids than chicken nuggets and fries and which cost a lot less than full service restaurants.
- Hotel rooms: For couples by themselves an inexpensive hotel may be the best deal, especially if it comes with breakfast.
- Airbnd: Single travelers can rent rooms in people's homes for a fraction of the cost of a hotel room
In Ft. Walton Beach, the beach is on an off-shore island. We stayed on the mainland less than five minutes from the bridge to the island and less than ten minutes from the public beach park (included showers and restrooms). Our Comfort Inn was about what you'd expect from a Comfort Inn and it cost us about $170 per night. Any hotels on the island were over $200 per night and those on the beach were over $300 per night. Interestingly, on the weekdays we were there, the public beach was less crowded than the private beaches in front of the condos and hotels.
Keep Food Costs Under Control
If you are staying someplace with a kitchen, use it. You don't have to spend your vacation cooking elaborate multi-course meals but buy sandwich fixings, snacks, or something you can throw in the oven or crockpot.
If you are in a hotel, if you have a refrigerator and/or microwave, don't be afraid to use them. If dining out is an important part of your vacation, include it in the budget, and don't waste your money on fast food--stop at the grocery store and buy a loaf of bread, some deli meat and some fruit.
Plan Ahead to See Low Cost Attractions
Much as you love the beach, unless you are willing to be burned to a crisp, time there must be limited. Especially if you have kids, research free/inexpensive attractions in the area so you don't have time to pay $XXXX for the roadside park that has all sorts of fun stuff, at a high price. You could even check to see if the local library has programs the kids could attend. If the hotel has an indoor pool they can play there after you get done at the beach.
While a beach vacation can quickly become very expensive if you let it, with a little planning you can have a good time and not break the bank.*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*