How to make a beach trip on a budget

It’s the fun in the sun so many of us enjoy, and for most in the Midstate, it’s really not that far. Every year, more than 8 million people pour into Ocean City, Maryland, looking for a beach getaway.

With a quick search on a hotel booking website, you can find hotels for $200 to $300 in the summer. So, how does a family afford it at the last-minute?

“We have a large variety of accommodations,” Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan said.

Meehan says the easiest way for families to save hundreds of dollars is to avoid weekends and stay in condos. During the week, hotels offer discounts to fill up rooms. Condos offer extra rooms, which adds extra space for extended family and another person to split the check.

Another tip: have fun before the sun goes down. Activities like mini-golf offer early bird discounts.

“We know it’s important to provide value for those that are visiting Ocean City and that’s what we intend to do,” Meehan said.

Also, don’t be afraid to pack lunches or make your own breakfast. Ocean City spokeswoman Jessica Waters says she’s seen families save bundles.

“If you figure you’re a family of four and maybe lunch is going to cost $40 at the minimum, and times that by a four- or five-day vacation, that’s a significant saving,” she said.

Camping is an option for families looking to visit Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. We’re told if you stay in nearby Cape Henlopen State Park, which has its own beach, you could save hundreds of dollars.

Look for value closer to the boardwalk, where the three food groups are pizza, fries and ice cream. Chip Hearn, owner of The Ice Cream Store, says food businesses offer family-sized portions to save you money.

“You look at a big ol’ bucket of french fries and you go, ‘Whoa, that’s expensive!’ but is it when the whole family is going chomp, chomp, chomp?” Hearn said.

Another tip – and this applies to any beach – is to look for coupon books. They’re at most hotels and the savings are on every page.

“They will help you with everything from candy to dinner to some stays,” said Carol Everhart, president and CEO of the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Experts recommend you avoid using your credit card while on vacation. It’s the best way to make sure you can pay off the trip without having to pay added fees.

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