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Beach Trips on a Budget

beachFor the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, you may be planning a beach trip or a trip to the local lake or river to stay cool. As one of the busiest days for shorelines and beaches, the Fourth of July is also a day where many business owners jack up the prices on things like parking and food. Here are a few ways to enjoy the beach when you’re on a budget and trying to avoid drowning in debt.

Parking can be incredibly expensive – some beaches will charge up to $50 just to park! To avoid the high costs, stick to state-owned beaches and use your residency to your advantage, as state beaches tend to cost much less than private beaches. If you are out of town or your state doesn’t offer beachfront sites, be sure to arrive early in the morning. Many parking lots increase prices as the day goes on, but the cheaper parking deals are to be found around 8 am.

Bring your own food. Beachside food stands and restaurants are notorious for their high prices. If you pack a picnic lunch, it’ll be healthier and significantly cheaper. If you are on vacation and away from home, you can still stop at a local grocery store on the way to the beach and pick up bread and cold cuts for sandwiches. Just be sure to clean up after and dispose properly of any garbage.

Use what you’ve got. Don’t buy new blankets and towels for laying on the beach. This is a great opportunity to use old sheets and towels that are a bit worn or have holes. If they get too gross after use at the beach, you can toss them.

Hydrate with water. A couple of gallons of water will be valuable on any beach trip. In addition to keeping you hydrated and refreshed, it’s useful to rinse your hands after eating and to rinse the sand off of your feet before getting into the car. You can purchase it at the beach, but the markup will be significant.

Stick to old-fashioned entertainment. Read a book, toss a Frisbee, or build a sand castle. You don’t need to rent jet skis or take surfing lessons to have fun. If you want to boogie board or body surf, pick those up for a few bucks at a bargain store before heading to the beach. You’ll be able to buy them at beachside shops, but they’ll cost a lot more.

Don’t forget sunscreen. Apply and reapply often. Think of this as more of an investment in the future. The less you burn, the less money you have to spend on aloe, as well as any future skin damage control products. Your skin will thank you in a few years!

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