I love family vacations. I love going to the beach. I love saving money.
This is my trifecta for fun! This year we have almost zero money for vacation. My husband is starting his business, and I’m working but don’t always get 40 hours each week. But with planning that doesn’t mean a vacation is completely off the table. It does mean we have to be smart about budgeting for a special trip.
My whole family loves to go camping. (Not glamping – though they’d like that too.) We started camping last year with my oldest’s cub scout family camp out. The kids all have their own camping backpacks even. So when I found out about Grand Isle State Park, I realized that we might just could afford a vacation this year.
Grand Isle State Park is located on the only inhabited barrier reef island in the state of Louisiana. It’s “at the very end of the road” – literally the very end of the longest highway in Louisiana. They offer pull through RV sites but also on the beach camping at only $18 per night!
Tah dah! Now I had a great location for use to visit for 3 nights at only just over $62 after taxes. The “campsites” include a fire ring and a picnic table. See…
Isn’t it beautiful?
The average price per night on a beach front property in Grand Isle is around $200. So beach camping saved us about $140 x 3 nights = $420 plus taxes and fees.
If you aren’t much for tent camping, the RV sites are $33 on peak days(weekends) which is still a ton cheaper than rentals if you have your own or access to a recreational vehicle or camper. The only downside is the RV area is on the other side of a dune full of vegetation from the beach so you cannot see it from your campsite. The upside, is that just through the path through the sand dunes is the beautiful, sparsely populated sandy beach with shells, hermit crabs, land crabs, pelicans, lots of different birds, dolphin sightings, stingray babies (my kids almost stepped on), and the occasional bull shark.
About the bull sharks, there was a shore fisherman we walked past on the way to the pier that had caught a 3-4 foot bull shark. He and his wife were planning dinner for the RV campers. We also did see fish jump really high part of the time we were playing in the waves which freaked me out a bit so I never let the kids go too far into the water. Plus, I was paranoid and made them wear life jackets even if their toes got a little bit wet because of potential rip tides. Enough of that waawaa junk. I just want to be upfront about things to be aware of when on a beach vacation no matter what accommodations you choose.
Ok, other ways we saved money on our beach vacation were with the food bill. We already have a camp stove powered by propane and I made jumbalaya with extra rice the second night. The first night we got there a little too late for cooking so we had sandwiches. The last night we had hot dogs and marshmallows. For breakfast we had cereal or donuts. We did eat out for lunch one day at subway, another at a local gas station/diner, Saturday we had a road trip to New Orleans and spent money at a “real” restaurant. The overall food cost was about $150. Not bad for feeding 7 people over 4 days (except the meal in New Orleans).
This brings the trip up to around $215. We did splurge by going on a side trip to New Orleans but I love that city. It’s just a strangely magical place with amazing food and art. The kids and I all got souvenirs. A stuffed animal crawdad for my little girl, an alligator magnet for my youngest son, and some giant(I mean giant) beads for my oldest son. For me? I got a painting from a street artist on Jackson Square.
I was sooo happy. (And the artist thought I was a bit cracray! PS Mr. Artist if you are reading this please comment so I can tag your website.) #1 It had been over 10 years since I was last in my favorite city in the world.(Yep, I’ve been lots of places literally all over the word and this one just holds my heart) #2 The last time I purchased art in New Orleans was 25 years earlier so this was a huge deal to me!
I love the kelly green of it and really the saying sold me. Total for souvenirs? around $45. Now the running total for the trip… $260. The last expense was for gas which was around $100. So the total for the four day trip for 7 people was $360.
It could have been much less expensive like no souvenirs (-$45) and no side trip costing more gas money (-$20) and the eating out (-$40) which would have meant the cost of the trip would have been around $255. But who can resist New Orleans?!!!!!!!
My tips for beach vacations –
- Find beach camping at a state park
- Bring all your own food and drinks so you don’t have to spend money eating out.
- Skip souvenirs – unless their is a poignant saying that you just can’t pass up
Saving money, getting to go to the beach, and helping my kids make lifelong memories. It was a lot of fun and the kids saw some amazing things. (Me too!) Once again another great vacation with my kids that I will be tucking away in my heart.