Like most people, I am always trying to save a buck or two, but I also enjoy going to the beach as much as possible. I live in reasonably close proximity to the Oregon Coast and we go every now and then. More often we visit beaches much further away. No matter where we go, we are always able to have a good time and stick to a budget. Going to the beach on a budget means we go more often. 

Planning a Family Trip to the Beach on a Budget

Here are a few ways I recommend to stick to a beach vacation budget and not come home completely broke!

Make a Budget

Write down your bottom line budget for the entire trip and stick to it. Plan for food, travel, accommodations, gas, and souvenirs. Don’t forget to budget in for emergency buys, like the quick trips to the local pharmacy for things you forgot to pack!


Pack WellAulani's Beach

Speaking of packing, it is really important if you are on a budget to pack the things you will need for your beach trip and not have to buy things at the resort or in the town you are traveling to. Make sure you bring your own sunscreen, towels, chairs, etc. Prices in resort towns are always jacked up because small business owners count on tourists and know that they will pay the price if they need the item. Buy your beach toys and things in advance at a local dollar store or discount store like Walmart or Target. It will save you a ton when you get down to the beach if you don’t have to buy from local small stores.

Bring Food

Pack a lot of your own snacks for travel and for the hotel. If you shop in advance for the snack items you will need for your vacation, you will save lots of money not buying bags of chips, soda and water while at the beach.

Eat Cheap

Since you will still have to eat while you are on vacation, try to avoid really expensive restaurants during your stay. This is where most resorts and beach towns really get the tourist’s money because they have a corner on the market as far as where you can eat on your vacation! If it is in your budget, just have dinner out once or twice on your vacation, and go easy on the other nights. Eat-in by going to a local deli and getting sandwiches and eat some of those chips you already brought down to the beach with you! Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are also a great thing to bring to the beach, and not spend a great deal of money during the day, either.

Road Trip2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan

As far as traveling goes, try to go as cheaply as possible. Driving is always the best way for me and my family, but if you need to fly, go coach and look for the best deals available. Look into bus or train travel as well, if the option is available to you!

Find Cheap Lodging

Accommodations are most likely going to be one of the biggest expenses on your trip, so try to plan ahead if at all possible for your trip to the beach. Most people book six months or more in advance, if not a year ahead of time if they can find accommodations that they know will be acceptable and save them money, too.

If you are a spur of the moment person, you may want to think about camping, or look into the local bed and breakfast hotels, they are a bargain sometimes.

Try Expedia for other cheap deals on hotels. VRBO is an excellent way to find somewhere cheap to stay at the beach. 

It shouldn’t really matter where you stay, anyway. You are going to the beach to be outside and you will not be in the hotel all that much anyway.

Play Free or Cheap Beach GamesPlaying Beach Games

Ensure your beach trip is a big success with these beach games for kids. These require little in the way of equipment or forward planning. Going to the beach sounds like any child’s idea of fun. However, the reality can be different. Few children will sit and play in the sand for more than a few minutes without some structure to the playtime. Here are some ideas to make going to the beach a whole lot of fun.

Most people taking a trip to the beach aim to take along the minimum of gear. With this in mind, many of the games featured here require just a bucket and spade or make use of natural materials you can find on the beach.

When packing for a beach trip, aim to save space wherever you can. Items which can be inflated quickly, such as a beach ball are good space savers. Put your child’s swim things inside a beach bucket, again, minimizing the number of things to carry.

A small kite can be rolled up inside a beach towel, or put inside the picnic bag. For younger children, take along a few cookie cutters. It’s amazing how fascinating children find these for making shapes in the sand. These can be used alongside seashells, once your child has collected some.

Beach Packing List

Organizing Beach Play

When you arrive at the beach, choose a flat pitch, as free of stones as possible. Make sure it isn’t too near to other beach visitors so you plan to play ball games. You could mark out your territory by placing various belongings around your chosen site.

Once you’re settled, you can think about what to play. Many of the classic playground games can be adapted for the beach, using a large stick to mark out a pitch for some of the activities.

Classic Playground Games

Playground games to try are hopscotch, noughts, and crosses (using shells as markers for one player and stones for the other) and football, using rolled-up towels or beach bags as the goals.

For beach darts, draw a large round dartboard in the sand. Choose a start line and have the players throw stones to get as near to the center of the dartboard as possible. Younger children could be allowed to stand closer to the board. For more advanced play, mark the dartboard into zones, with different point values.

Sand and Water GamesBuilding Sandcastles

The area where the sea meets the sand is a natural playground and can be the focus for messy games, which most kids love. Even the simplest ideas can provide lots of fun. Remember, games played near water are potentially the most dangerous, so keep a constant eye on the activities.

If the tide is coming in, build a sandcastle a meter or so back from the sea. Then, let the kids construct a dam that will protect the castle for as long as possible. The dam wall can be made of sand, shells, and seaweed. Digging a moat around the castle can help it hold out even longer against the sea.

Don’t just stick to sandcastles. With an adult’s help, children can make a car or boat, which is big enough for them to sit in. This can either be made near the sea, so they can sit in and wait for the water to run into their vehicle, or can be constructed away from the sea to play in all day.

Don’t feel like you have to constantly suggest activities. Some of the best games evolve naturally when children are free to make their own use of the resources around them. Provided you’re there to keep an eye on them and chip in with a suggestion when ideas are running low, your day out will be a big success.

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