Now that I am self-employed, it’s my goal to get down to the beach more often. I grew up going to the Florida Panhandle with my dad and stepmom, mostly to beautiful Navarre Beach, Florida, which is between Pensacola and Destin. The past few years we’ve enjoyed an annual 30A beach vacation. An easy drive from Nashville, the beautiful Caribbean like water and white sand are hard to resist!
Three years ago I discovered Seagrove Beach, Florida, which is in the trendy area today known as 30A (which was not a thing when I was a teen but is the buzzword now).
Seagrove is a bit more old school and not quite as popular as Seaside and that is fine by me as it is only about a mile and a half from Seaside. There’s less traffic and it tends to be less expensive than Seaside and the artsier Grayton Beach area (which is lovely!) I had a set budget in mind for our trip (after all, we’ve got a high school senior this year who is looking at colleges!)
Here are six ways I saved money on our 30A beach vacation:
Book lodging direct – I am a big fan of VRBO.com and found this year’s condo on VRBO.com, however it was listed by Vacasa. I then looked it up on Vacasa and it ended up being a bit cheaper booking directly through that website, rather than VRBO. Even a small savings is nearly a tank of gas for my car or a fancy boat drink by the pool. So again, unless your VRBO listing is managed by an individual, it is probably listed by Vacasa or Wyndham or some other local beach rental company. Search for the specific property on their website, and you should save a bit.
Bring your own snacks and bottled water – I bought Clif bars, Power Crunch bars, fruit snacks and bottled water at home in Nashville on sale and packed them for the ride down and to take to the beach. There’s a Tom Thumb convenience mart in Seagrove and while you can literally buy just about anything there, it can add up!
Don’t eat out for every meal – This is probably a no brainer, but we typically ate breakfast and lunch at the condo or on the beach and saved dining out for dinner. I also typically will do one “cheap pizza night” and this year I bought BOGO frozen pizzas from Publix in Seaside and fruit and no one complained and it was a third of the cost of our seafood dinner out the night before.
BYOB – Yep I brought my own bottle of wine (Kroger $3!) and a few of my favorite alcoholic seltzer drinks rather than buy them at the convenience mart in Seagrove or the Publix near Seaside.
Bring your own beach chairs – Last year’s beach rental included backpack beach chairs, which was great, but the first condo we stayed at this year did not. If you can buy or borrow (we borrowed) beach chairs, it will save you about $40 plus on daily rental. We also bought a $20 beach umbrella at Publix in Seaside. This still ended up being cheaper than daily rental. If you can find a condo that comes with beach chair set up GO FOR IT because it’s a lovely perk.
Buy sunscreen at home. Last year we ran out of sunscreen and I ended up buying a $50 can of Panama Jack brand sunscreen (ok it was not quite that much, but it might as well have been.) This year I made sure I bought sunscreen on sale at home for our trip.
Lastly, I mentioned I am a big fan of VRBO. I love that you can create an account and make trip boards of your favorite properties, much like Pinterest boards. I would also recommend using other sites like Trivago, Turnkey (which occasionally has savings codes), Expedia and AirBnb.
I also recently joined Rakuten and you can get cash back if you book through Expedia through the Rakuten website! If you join through my link you’ll get $10 off your first $25 purchase and pretty much any online retail store you might frequent is there (from clothes to cruise vacations.)
Additionally you never know what other surprise savings you’ll discover. For instance, I realized from reading The Nashville Mom that admission to Florida state parks is free this summer! Granted, it was just a $5 savings when we visited Grayton Beach (highly recommend), but these small savings add up. I figure if I can save $25 a day that’s enough for an additional nice dinner out or maybe bike rentals for the day!
What are some of your tips for saving money on beach vacations?