Beach vacations are supposed to be peaceful and relaxing, but there are pitfalls to avoid if you want some fun in the sun without any regrets. These tips will help you plan the ideal beach vacation for your travel style and budget.
Decide Whether to Go All-Inclusive
Many beach destinations offer an array of all-inclusive resorts that include your lodging, food and drink, and entertainment for a single nightly rate. Consider whether all-inclusive is something you would consider so you can compare prices with traditional resorts. Many times, all-inclusive resorts can be cheaper when you factor in other savings.
Set a Travel Budget
Before you plan any type of vacation, it’s important to set your travel budget and decide how much you can afford. Plan out how much you can spend including lodging, food, and fun and strive to plan an itinerary that fits within those parameters.
Family-Friendly or Adults-Only?
Some beach hotels cater to adults or couples specifically while others offer family-friendly amenities. Make sure to choose a beachfront property that is well suited for the people in your group, whether you’re traveling with your kids, a lover, or a group of friends.
Think About the Water Activities You Want
Some beach destinations are better for swimming and sunbathing while others are ideal for watersports like kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. Read up on beach destinations so you know how the wind, water, and sand affect the activities available nearby.
Look at Local Amenities
Does the destination you’re considering have plenty of restaurants and nightlife? Will you find activities for the kids such as waterparks, zoos, and movies? Make sure to look at the local amenities so you can select a beach destination with everything you want.
Consider Paying with Airline Miles
Airline miles can help you fly to your favorite beach destination for free, but you do need to plan ahead of time. If you’re angling for inexpensive flights, explore different airline and travel credit cards that can help you explore the beach for cheap.
Look into Hotel Points
Hotel loyalty programs can help you book oceanfront hotels around the globe without paying a cent. Some even let you book all-inclusive resorts with points. Explore travel credit cards and hotel loyalty programs to find out which beach destinations you can explore for free.
Rental Condo or Resort?
While hotels and resorts tend to have more amenities, rental condos can make sense for families who need more space. If you are bringing kids along to the beach, consider a beachfront rental condo with a few bedrooms and a kitchen for meals and snacks. You don’t want to share a bedroom with your kids, do you?
Look at the Caribbean
If you’re willing to leave the U.S. and travel south, you’ll find some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The Caribbean is made up of hundreds of islands with their own unique culture and selection of lodging options. Consider the Caribbean if you want an insanely tropical vacation and a solid selection of all-inclusive properties.
Consider Staying Stateside
Don’t want to leave the United States? You don’t have to. There are hundreds of gorgeous beaches around the country, from the shores of Texas to Florida and the east coast. Consider a beachy destination within driving distance and turn your beach trip into a road trip.
Travel Off-Peak if You Can
If you’re able to travel outside of school breaks, you will likely save money and avoid the biggest crowds. Consider an off-peak vacation in late spring or any time during fall for the best deals. Winter beach vacations can also come with fewer crowds, but prices may be higher depending on where you go.
Consider Driving to Your Destination
If you want to save money on your beach trip, consider a destination you can drive to so you can save the cost of airfare. For a family of four, this one step could save you $1,000 or more—even after paying for gas. By avoiding the airport, you’ll have more cash to spend on the hotel, resort, or rental condo of your dreams.
Should You Do a Cruise?
While cruising may not be your typical beach vacation, it’s an affordable way for families to travel. Consider a Caribbean cruise on a discount cruise line like MSC Cruises for a cheap way to see several beaches on a single trip.
Look for Affordable Luxury
You can often find affordable five-star resorts if you are willing to travel to new places. The newly remodeled TRS Yucatan Hotel in Riviera Maya region of Mexico, for example, offers opulent luxury for a price that might surprise you.
Look at Mexico
The entire country of Mexico is well known for offering affordable luxury, and its usually cheap to fly there, too. Look at properties in Riviera Maya, Los Cabos, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta if you want five-star luxury for a price you can actually afford.
Pack All the Essentials
Make sure to pack everything you’ll need for a successful beach trip. This includes weather appropriate clothing, toiletries, beach toys for the kids, bug spray, and of course sunscreen. Also make sure to bring plenty of cash on your trip so you can purchase any essentials you forget.
Look for Resorts with Kid's Clubs
Many beachfront properties offer kid’s clubs that will watch the kids while the parents relax. These clubs can offer a welcome break for busy parents who need some vacation time for themselves. Make sure to consider a resort with a kid’s club if you want some adult or quiet time on your own.
Consider a Place with a Washer and Dryer
If you’re traveling with kids and infants, booking a property with on-site laundry can be a lifesaver. You can bring less clothing along and also clean up after messy kids. Bring a small container of laundry detergent and a few dryer sheets and you’re good to go.
Check Schedules at Your Destination
Before you book a beach vacation, make sure you know about any festivals happening over your dates. If you booked a beach vacation in Panama City, Florida during their annual Thunder Beach motorcycle event and you didn’t know ahead of time, your trip could easily be ruined due to the noise and the crowds.
Compare More than One Destination
If you want to save money on a beach getaway, it’s crucial to shop around. This means comparing destinations based on price and amenities to get the most bang for your buck. By not getting your heart set on a specific destination early, you can save a bundle.
Consider Booking a Package Deal
Travel discounters like Expedia.com and Travelocity.com offer steep discounts if you book your flight, hotel, and rental car at the same time. Consider vacation package deals as you price out the individual components of your dream trip. Sometimes the package deal is less expensive, and sometimes it’s not.
Look at Groupon Getaways
Groupon Getaways offers vacation packages in various beach destinations at a discount. Typically, these packages are only good for select dates and select airports, but you can still save significant sums on travel. Make sure to read the fine print before you book, and you’ll be fine.
Use a Travel Agent
If you’re unsure where to go for the ideal beach vacation, consider hooking up with a travel agent. These professionals can make recommendations on destinations and properties based on your travel goals, and they may be able to offer savings or added perks.
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
Last but not least, don’t let little issues that crop up while you travel ruin your trip. Your beach vacation may not be perfect, but you should try to enjoy yourself regardless. Like any vacation, what matters most is having fun and spending time with the people you love.