Wednesday, August 13, 2008

More Ways to Save Down the Shore

I've posted before about ways to save money on your shore vacation (and talked about that same topic on CN8). Here's a few more quick tips on how to save cash:

1. Take the Ten Toe Express.
That means walk -- yes, walk -- to where you need to go. This works two ways. First, if you walk as opposed to drive, you save money on gas. Second, if you want to park close to the beach/amusements/restaurants, you'll most likely pay a fee (meter or parking fee). If you walk, you don't have to pay. If you drive into town and park a few blocks away from the action, then walk, you can still save because less crowded streets usually don't have meters. I did this recently in Ocean City and Atlantic City and saved about $10. That's not a lot, but it adds up when you're back and forth to the shore all summer.

2. Pack it Up. Shore food's expensive, so cut out at least one paid-for meal by bringing food to the beach. My typical beach lunch is trail mix, pretzels and a piece of fruit (peaches are my latest choice). If I don't make the trail mix, I pick up two bags for $7 at Walgreens. Just make sure you don't get the variety with chocolate if you're out in the sun for a long time.

3. Water, Water, Everywhere. Bottled water's another expensive item, so I've been bringing mine or finding public places with water fountains -- most public bathrooms have one attached. If that freaks you out, hit up dollar stores and drug stores for bottled water. Last year, someone tried to charge me $3 for a bottle. Yikes. It was $.99 a few stores up the boardwalk.

4. Sit Smart. For beach chairs, it would seem that you have two options: rent one or buy one when you're down the shore. Here's my suggestion before you even hit the highway -- see if anyone you know has one. I don't have a beach chair (for shame!) but my mom has two, so I borrow one of hers. Also, if you're renting a shore house, ask if they provide beach chairs. While you're at it, ask if they provide beach tags and bikes, too. House tags will save you pin money, and house bikes will save you the gas of hauling down your own. If you're at a hotel, you might be in luck, too. I didn't bring my beach chair to my stay at The Chelsea, but they had their own set up that I used. Another tip: if you've got a lot of kids running around, bring an old bed sheet for them to sit on. That was my 'beach chair' as a kid -- though I rarely sat.

5. Quarter Bribe. This isn't really a tip, but one of my favorite grandparent-shore stories. My Grandmom and Grandpop Miller had a place down the shore, just a few miles away from where my family stayed at Avalon Campground. Sometimes we'd head down with them for the weekend or week, and to make sure we behaved (there were four of us, after all) and not pester them about the drive, each child was given four quarters. Every time we complained or acted up, we had to give Grandmom one of our quarters. Then, when we arrived at their campground, we were allowed to use whatever quarters we had left in the game room. It might not seem like such a big money saver, but it did keep us quiet, and it set a limit to how much we'd spend on video games, which can add up if you keep giving out quarters.

6. Check Your Change. Speaking of...we played a lot of video games at Jillian's in Ocean City. My little brother once cashed a dollar in the change machine and got back a quarter from the 1800s, which was worth well over $.25. So check your quarters before you use them to play.

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Matt said...

I love the quarter bribe! Will surely use that on my girls on the next trip down to the shore.

BTW-- I did a 30 mile bike ride on Saturday and made a pit stop at Avalon Campground-- went through the whole place on my bike. As an adult, it seems so much smaller than I remember as a kid.

...and in typical bad boy fashion, I buzzed the guardbooth and failed to pay the visitor fee. I think that old guy is still looking for me on his golf cart!

Leah Ingram said...

When we were in Wildwood Crest this summer for my daughter's team's basketball tournament, we brought a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter, and voila, we had breakfast for our family each morning. Also, we knew the room had a coffee maker so we brought the fixing for morning Joe, too.

Some of the other families brought blenders for smoothies (actually the Magic Bullet which I'd discussed on my 10! Show segment on bridal shower gifts), and we were able to make all the kids slushies without having to drive to Wawa and pay for them.

When we decided to go to Morey's Piers, we made everyone walk--even back. I wasn't spending any cash on that tram.

As always, Jen, great advice!

Nomad said...

This may be obvious, but the BIGGEST money-saver for us over the years is remembering you don't have to stay ON the shore to have a vacation AT the shore. We usually vacation in Wildwood, but stay at a hotel in Egg Harbor Township or Marmora. This saves us between $50 and $100 per night on the hotel, plus we save as prices away from the shore are often cheaper for food, medicines, etc.

Of course, this does mean we have to spend extra money on gas and we lose out on the late night/early morning beach and boardwalk scene. But often it has turned a prohibitively expensive long weekend (staying in town) into an affordable week of vacation (staying a few towns away).