My favorite place on this planet is the beach and ocean. The problem is I live in Indiana. When you look out your window here there’s a good chance you’re not going to see any sand and surf. Unless it’s man made of course.. which I’ve made happen once in my life haha but that’s another story. I fell in love with a particular area and many people laugh when I tell them. However there are many reason I’ve come to call this place a home away from home. I absolutely love the panhandle in Florida. The clear blue and emerald waters with the soft sugar white sands and all the little beach towns up and down the coast. The feeling I get when I’m there is just what I said… home.
(Not my first or second trip here but it was the one that made this beach steal my heart)
Another thing that makes this particular area so great is it can be so affordable to pack up and go for a long weekend or week. The most cost effective place I’ve found there is Panama City Beach. Now before you groan and think spring break city, ask yourself this, have you ever gone when it’s not March or April? If you haven’t you need to give it a shot! My favorite time to go is in September through mid October. Hurricane season yes. But the weather is typically perfect! You’ll also find lower rates! The water is still warm and the sun is still hot! But not too hot!
(My many trips to the panhandle have allowed me to meet some pretty awesome locals which gave me incredible opportunities to try new things)
So let’s get on to how to save on your next beach vacation shall we?! First things first. You have to have a place to stay. When booking a condo we have had the best luck with VRBO.com you may try airbnb.com too. I personally like directly dealing with the owner. You can usually negotiate a better rate. Also if you’re not dead set on beach front you can find some great places across the street from the beach at a fraction of the cost. You just gotta do some research. There are a few campgrounds as well if you’d rather stay as close to nature as possible. There is a reason I suggest a condo though. Condos will have a kitchen which means you can save lots of money by eating in! You’d have to buy groceries if you were at home so grocery shopping on vacation isn’t really any extra cost.
The more the merrier! Try to plan a vacation with your friends or family. This will cut the price of your condo in half! Plus it’s fun to share new adventures with your friends. Another way to save money is to drive. I know it’s not always the quickest way to travel but with multiple people in a vehicle splitting gas and drive time it makes for pretty inexpensive travel. When you have a beach and some good friends you really don’t need much more entertainment. Set a budget before you go and if you have room plan for a night out or extras. Just know they aren’t necessary to enjoy a little R and R. If sports or fishing happens to be your thing plan ahead and pack it in the car so you’re prepared for activities and can save on rental cost. Check out the local Groupon and see if there’s anything exciting going on that you can work into your budget.
These are just a few ideas that have helped me travel to one of my favorite places often without feeling guilty. Also if you venture out on the town or want to do a beach excursion just be friendly! You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make new friends and try new things. You may even discover a few favorite local spots off the beaten path. You never know where kindness and a smile will get you. You just might make someone’s day and they could make yours right back with a free dolphin tour. It’s happened! Now go make some new memories.