Listen to the Top 5 Money Saving Tips for a Beach Vacay to 30 Podcast.
If you haven’t been to 30A, you’re missing out. As in, you must stop what you are doing and start planning your trip to visit ASAP. The beautiful 30A highway is located in Florida, which seems to be the most visited area by Tulsans (check out the map of 30A here). The beach highway will take you through the best little beach towns such as Grayton, Blue Mountain, Seaside, Seacrest, Alys Beach, Rosemary Beach and Inlet Beach.
This is the Florida highway that is perfect for renting a Jeep and just cruising along especially in the off-season when you can actually cruise along without getting stuck in traffic. The other amazing Florida option is highway A1A which is along the Atlantic coast and amazingly gorgeous but we’ll cover that another time.
My husband and I are legit beach lovers, we visit 30A and other amazing beaches on a regular basis and we have stayed at almost every single one of the beaches mentioned above including Destin. He loves Jimmy Buffett, I love The Beach Boys and we both love the beach. We have found the beaches on 30A to be fairly affordable, keep in mind we have a family of 7 but, it all depends on when you go and where you stay.
I mean for the most part, you’re going to a beach so if you just plan on doing that-your biggest expenses will be food and transportation. And, if you can follow the tips below on the food then the transportation doesn’t seem so bad. So, let’s hit some basic money saving tips then I’ll touch on the transportation issue.
Top 5 Money Saving Tips for a Beach Vacay to 30A
1.Plan to Go in the Off Season: I cannot say this enough IF you want to save money, stay away from 30A during peak season which runs June – August if you want a real month by month breakdown visit 30A.com. I suppose you should really avoid almost all of Florida during peak season if you can help it. Here’s the thing, if you visit during peak season, you’ll find prices are not only higher on places to stay but also things to do and simple things such as beach chair rentals. In other words, it is all more expensive.
There are ways to work around that but the easiest thing to do would be to plan your vacation for the Fall (you can still get in the water). Spring break is a great time to visit as well but the water is pretty cold especially for the kids. If vacationing in the off season is not possible or if you just don’t want to, the following tips will help you out!
2. Airbnb or VRBO or HomeAway.com: These places are GREAT places to start when looking for a beach stay. I’ve even found a few Airstreams for rent which my husband and I totally plan on trying out next time we go to Florida. For the most part, you’ll find beach houses and cottages are much cheaper than hotels especially since you can cook your own food and wash your own clothes. I have also been known to message the owners and see if they’ll cut me a discount if I pay upfront through them directly (as these websites do charge fees). It’s worth asking!
For Airbnb specifically, set your filters then start LOW on pricing as in, $50 a night. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, add $10. Don’t start at the top tier pricing, start low then go up as needed. You’ll be surprised what kind of gems you find along the way!
If you want to go the extra money saving mile, you can rent a cabin in a Florida state park for next to nothing or you can camp out! I’m going to be honest with you, it’s not my thing-I’m more of a beach house kinda girl. But, if you like camping out, a cabin in the park (or a tent) is certainly the cheapest!
It doesn’t hurt to ask on social media either, I found out a friend of ours owned a beach house and it saved us over $1000 to rent through him directly rather than using VRBO! That’s HUGE especially since we have a big family and it can cost quite a bit for a rental.
Save $40 off your first Airbnb rental if you sign up through my referral link here.
3. Freezer Meals: Ok, friends, here’s the honest truth. Florida grocery stores are HIGH and I mean they live for the tourists. My best tip when it comes to food (which can be your highest expense) is to bring as much as you possibly can. If you’re driving, hit ALDI before you leave town and load up.
I also have been known to freezer cook, you can store the meals in dry ice (available at Reasors) if you need to and take the meals to Florida to warm up while you’re there. A good cooler will keep them frozen especially if you happen to own a YETI. Need some freezer cooking recipes? My sister has a ton of them on MommyHatesCooking.com.
If you decide to eat out (which I would certainly do while on vacation), try to hit the lunch hour rather than dinner and look for places that offer free or discounted kids meals. We like to pick one or two restaurants to visit and cook the rest of the time, we do have some favorite ice cream places that can’t be missed though-be sure to check out Blue Mountain Creamery (they have a creamsicle float!) and Heavenly’s in Seaside. Not cheap places but well worth it!
And, don’t forget the food trucks in Seaside! They’re not cheap but you have to try them at least once!
4. Groupon: Say it with me GROUPON. I’m serious, I mentioned it on a previous post but I’m telling you Groupon is where it is at when it comes to attractions. That being said, for us personally, we love to cruise up and down 30A, go try out all the beaches and hit the outlet mall. That’s really it. But, if you have little ones or kiddos that want to try out water sports, boat rentals, tours, etc. then check out Groupon.
I feel like Groupon disappeared for awhile in that the deals weren’t that great but if you’re going on vacation, you can find some real steals everything from boat rentals to dolphin tours. And, super great deals if you have a big group. If you’re looking to really save money, plan your trip around those deals!
5.Bring Your Own Beach Furniture/Toys/Boards: If you plan to spend the whole day at the beach, the chairs and umbrellas will run you about $40 a day. That’s not the end of the world if you go for one day but if you spend a week or two there-you’ll be broke. So, bring your own! Hit Walmart, Sams or even Academy before leaving town and pick up a set for around $40 total or check out this beach chair/umbrella set on Amazon.
The same goes for boogie boards and sand toys, they’ll cost a fortune if you have to hit a beach shop. Bring them with you and you will save a bundle and to be honest, the quality will be better as well. Many times, if you rent a beach house, these things will come with the house so, read the fine print-that’s a great deal too and then you won’t have to haul them down there. But, honestly, it’s worth bringing your own stuff especially if you have a large family.
Now to the transportation issue…
If you’re coming from around here (Tulsa area) I would suggest driving. Now, we do road trips all the time and it’s not a big deal for us. From Tulsa, Pensacola is about 12 hours or so which means 30A is about 13 hours-not bad. That being said, if driving is totally off the table, there are cheap airline deals such as the $40-$100 Allegiant flights. Also, if you’re able to use a credit card that banks airline miles (and can pay it off every single month) then that is an option too. For us, when we go to 30A or the Pensacola area, we drive. When we go to any other part of Florida, we fly.
I prefer to drive, personally, as I have no desire to fall out of the sky one day. I can also pack our own food and gear with us-we do have pretty nice boogie boards and things like that for our kids. It’s the better option for us but, it’s not for everyone. Also, keep in mind, once you get there most beach houses come with bikes so you can bike all around too!
MY SECRET TIP:
Would you like to know the most affordable beach vacation? It’s not 30A and it pains me to say that because I love 30A.
If you want to save money and hit an affordable Florida beach, visit Pensacola. If you want to expand your horizons a bit, visit Orange Beach and Gulf Shores in Alabama which are maybe 30-40 minutes from Pensacola (below is one of the homes we rented in Orange Beach).
You will save a TON of money on every single thing there from beach houses to food to beach chairs. Here’s the cool thing-you can stay in any of these three beach towns and simply take a day to go drive down 30A and explore a bit. Serious money saver and this coming from someone who absolutely plans to live on 30A someday. It just ain’t cheap, ya’ll.
So, stay in Pensacola or Alabama and spend a day or two driving down 30A.
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Sarah Ann is an author, speaker and media personality committed to honesty, vulnerability and authenticity. She has a passion for empowering people who are willing to be honest and walk out life in Christ together, no masks and no curtains. Sarah holds a Masters in Theology and Apologetics, she also owns a clothing company, Ascent516.com, she is creator of SarahAnnSpeaks.com and the Sarah Ann Speaks Podcast and is featured daily on GEB TV.