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Vacations are supposed to be enjoyable. We save and eagerly wait all year for our long-awaited getaway. For some, spending more during vacation is definitely not a problem but for the majority of family vacationers, saving money while on vacation is a must. However, as much as people want to save money, they often just don't know how to do it. This means that most families have a pre-conceived perception that going on vacation means shelling out a ton of cash.

However, a little pre-vacation planning will help you save money while on your trip so that you can have the relaxed Outer Banks vacation that you deserve. Here are some budget-friendly tips that may help you save money while still getting the chance to recharge, enjoy new experiences, connect with family, and let the stress melt away.

Be Flexible Regarding Your Travel Dates

This is a potentially HUGE money saver! If possible, try to vacation during the off (non-peak) season. Although most people crave a summer vacation at the beach, the off season on the Outer Banks is one of our best kept secrets.* Not only will you save money on a rental, you’ll also avoid the crowds and get more time to enjoy the local attractions. 

*No matter what time of the year you want to hit the beach, Seaside Vacations has exclusive offers and hot deals on vacation homes so you may be able to get an awesome home at a lower price!

Choose A Rental Home Over A Hotel

An oceanfront hotel room can cost as much as $299/night during the summer. The average cost per night, per person in an oceanfront Outer Banks vacation rental home? As low as $45 a night! And the hotel room can’t boast a private gourmet kitchen, expansive multi-level decks, private pools, hot tubs and other features you get with having your private space. Not to mention, many of Seaside Vacations rental homes offer Any Day Stays meaning you don't have to book a full week if you prefer to just stay a few days - just like you would in a hotel.

Make A List Of Expenditures

Of course, your planning starts with where you are going. How long is your travel time and how are you getting there? Are you sharing the cost with another family? Does your Outer Banks vacation rental come with linens and towels and other standard amenities? How much can you pack in your vehicle? What grocery stores are available at your destination? Brainstorm all of the expenditures that you will have, make a list, and then make a budget.

Take It On The Road

Keep in mind that driving can significantly cut your vacation transportation costs. To save money and to avoid fast food while traveling, try packing a lunch, snacks and drinks for your road trip. Don't be intimidated by the idea of entertaining your kids while you drive. With a fun road trip game, you just might find that those hours you share in the car together are some of the best memories of all. Don't forget to plan for gas and tolls.

There's An App For That

Use smart phone apps to your advantage while traveling. GasBuddy can help you find the cheapest gas near you and ATMHunter allows you to avoid fees when withdrawing money. If you stop along the way, restaurants may have an app or coupons you can find with a quick search online.

Save On Meals

It can be tempting to ignore the cost of food while you're on vacation. After all, you would spend money on food at home anyway. However, if you don't plan ahead, you can end up spending a lot more on vacation meals than you would at home.

  • Once you arrive, hit the local grocery store to stock the kitchen in your vacation rental home.
  • Create a vacation meal plan. Think about the number of meals you'll eat and decide how many will be at home and how often you'll dine out. Be sure to include breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks in your planning. A good idea is to plan for one night to be "clean out the fridge" night to help get rid of food before checking out. (However, if you do have unopened non-perishable food left, please bring it by our Kitty Hawk office so we may donate it to the local food pantry.)
  • It also helps if breakfasts and dinners are eaten in since many restaurants offer the same dinner menu at lunch - but with cheaper prices.
  • Many of our Outer Banks vacation rentals include a grill which helps with planning meals at home.
  • If you are traveling with other families, splitting the menu planning will save you money and also give you a night off when it is someone else's turn in the kitchen.

Plan Some Down Time

You don't have to visit local Outer Banks attractions each and every day of your vacation. Since the Outer Banks is known for its beautiful, pristine beaches, why not spend your time relaxing on the sand and cooling off in the refreshing Atlantic? Spending the day by the water costs nothing! You can also take advantage of the many amenities that most of our vacation rentals offer. From rec rooms with pool tables to private pools and hot tubs, spending time with your family hanging out in your Outer Banks vacation rental home, is another effective way to save money on your Outer Banks vacation.

Ask For (And Use!) Coupons

Ask the local Outer Banks Visitor's Bureau or Chamber of Commerce to send you free maps, coupons and a list of special events. You can also wait until you arrive. A local coupon book comes out every year and many local businesses have these books in their entry way so they are easy to grab. If you aren't sure where to find one, give us a call and we can help! With these local guides in your pocket, you'll save big on restaurants, attractions and local shopping.

Relax, Relax, Relax

You may go over budget and you may stay under budget, but don’t let the stress of money rob you from the pleasure of your Outer Banks vacation. And if you feel that your budget is getting out of control, simply plan one night in with family board games, drinks on the deck, or hamburgers on the grill to feel like you are back on track. Plus, not all local attractions cost money so a little research before you go (combined with checking your coupon booklet), means you won't show up unprepared. Remember... the Outer Banks is the number 1 best family beach vacation in the USA so enjoy it!