Fun Stuff on a Budget

Vacations can be dreadfully expensive.  You’re paying for a place to stay, you’re paying for three meals a day, you’re paying for entertainment… and don’t forget the cost of gas to get you where you’re going!  But your Jersey shore vacation doesn’t have to leave you with an empty wallet.

Be Snack-Savvy!

  • Hit a grocery store and stock up on bread for sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly, and even mini-snack bags.  You’ll save a lot of money by not buying lunch every day… if the family is willing to eat PB&J every day.
  • Keep in mind you can bring your own lunch onto the beach — you don’t have to buy lunch from the snack bars.
  • Most motel rooms come with a mini-fridge.  While you’re at the store, grab juice boxes and six-packs of your favorite teas and sodas.  It’s much cheaper than hitting the soda machine!
  • Buy a box of cereal the family can agree on and eat breakfast in your room before you head out for the day.
  • Granola bars make a great snack on the go!
  • Keep an eye on portions.  Some restaurants and snack bars serve portions so large that it’s more than enough for two.
  • Instead of a full dinner at a restaurant, why not order a pizza or subs and have a picnic on the beach or in your motel room?
  • Keep an eye out for any “kids eat free” restaurants if you have children under twelve.

Rest Your Head for Less!

  • Everybody wants an oceanfront room.  But most of your time in the room is spent sleeping!  How important is the view then?  Some motels and bed and breakfasts have lower rates for rooms without a view.
  • If you don’t mind the drive back to the beach, you may find lower room rates a little further inland.  Just figure out whether the money you save on lodging is worth the amount of extra gas you’ll need to drive back and forth!
  • If you’re an AAA member or senior citizen, ask about discounts.
  • Check the internet!  You never know when your favorite place to stay is offering some kind of special.
  • Plan in advance.  You’re going to spend more money on a last-minute vacation than you will on a trip planned far in advance.

Entertainment on a Dime (or less)!

  • Scope out free entertainment.  Admission to the Cape May County Zoo is totally free!  (Donations are always welcome, if you can spare it.)  You can spend hours watching the hundreds of animals in their habitats.
  • Give the kids an “allowance” for the week, paid daily.  That way, they won’t run out of money after the first day or two.  Let them use the money for arcades, games of chance, and souvenir shopping.
  • Plan ahead and have everyone bring a book and/or a magazine.  They’ll have something to read on the beach or before bed.
  • Pick up a local newspaper and check the local section for free events going on during your stay.  You may find something interesting going on at the local library — library programs are almost always free.
  • If you want to take in a movie, make sure you catch a matinee.  Go right after lunch so you don’t have a starving horde screaming for snacks.

You can have a great vacation at the Jersey shore and not go home broke… plan a budget and stick to it, and keep these frugal travel tips handy!