SAVE MONEY ON A FAMILY BEACH VACATION 🏖
After 25 years of vacationing at the Hilton Head Island Disney Vacation Club Resort, I have “saving money 💵 on a beach vacation” down to a science👩🏻🔬. Our first Hilton Head Island trip was when our oldest was 18 months and I was pregnant with Katie, our second. We love the island, but soon learn that it could be quite expensive. By our second trip to Hilton Head, we had two little ones 👨👩👧👧, built a house🏠 and had purchased a Disney Vacation Club Membership. Saving money while creating a fabulous vacation was a must.
While money was tight when we were newly married with two little ones, purchasing the Vacation Club was one of the best financial decisions we ever made. While this is not my first tip, if you are planning on making yearly trips to any of the Disney locations or would like to, it is worth checking out. We purchased over 20 years ago and has saved us thousands. It is a large purchase so I would recommend looking at the current packages closely and decide for your family if it makes financial sense. As you can see the location is Beautiful!
Beautiful Disney Hilton Head Island Vacation ClubWe had started building our home a few years before we had our first little one, so we were on a tight budget on our first vacations. As you know with each addition to the family it became harder to vacation. But Jim and I love to travel especially to the beach⛱. We were determined to share our love for the beach each year with our children. I am alway amazed how much the children learn and grow in their development on each vacation. On each trip, their vocabulary and life skills would take a giant leap. Because we needed a break from work and we wanted to give our little ones new life experiences, it was not an option to not take a vacation. I spent months asking friends and family neighbors and co-workers how they keep their vacation budget low. (We did not have the internet or Pinterest, I know hard to believe) I developed over the years a tried and true plan for making a Beach Vacation affordable.
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Savings Tip #1 PLAN AHEAD
It may seem like common sense but the first step is to plan ahead and I mean way far ahead. I can not stress how much detailed planning will save a lot of money. Souvenirs, clothes, and food are the most expensive items on a beach resort vacation. The last thing you want to do as a parent is spend your entire vacation saying no. On an Island vacation, you can also easily spend $100-$200 on a family meal out. At a Disney resort or park, you can easily spend $50 to $100 on little items at a gift shop. You can easily spend the entire vacation saying no to souvenirs and eating at fancy restaurants and find yourself very frustrated. The solution is in the pre-planning!
Savings Tip #2 BUY AHEAD
It is very important if you want to keep your little ones from spending all your vacation money on little souvenirs, is to buy souvenirs and Disney items at home and bring them with you. Especially on a Disney vacation, the resorts have Disney items everywhere. In the resorts, the price of Disney character items is a premium. (You can same on Disney Stuffed Animals and Plush Here) Luckily for Mom and Dad, Disney items can be bought at home at any discount store at a fraction of the price. All of the favorite beach items are also expensive at the resort but can be more than affordable at a discount store or Dollar store.
Target and Walmart have huge selections of Disney stuffed animals, beach hats, beach sunglasses, beach towels, jewelry, and clothes. I almost forgot swimsuits and rash guards (does anyone know why they call them this). These can be found at great bargains outside the resorts. And if you’re lucky to live next to a Disney store you can search their clearance section. I start out very early, months before our vacation, hunting down sales. I look for Disney stuffed animals, hats, clothes, bathing suits and beach towels. You can also find sales of stuffed Disney animals and other character items on the Disney Store website. Disney cups, Disney shirts, Disney beach towels are all items the kids will want when they get to the beach and easy to find at home at a fraction of the price.
I stick all these pre-purchased items away even if I need to pack them in a separate suitcase and bring them along it is worth the savings. All these items I would save until we had reached our destination and then as the kids started exploring gift stores, where all these Disney items are 10 times the cost, I start pulling out my brought from home items and everyone is happy. (Especially Mom & Dad)
I am not a total Grinch, I will let each child pick out one or two items that are special to that vacation. However, I am not spending $40 on a swimsuit that can be found at the discount store for $19.99.
Savings Tip #3 The Dollar Store or Discount Store for Small Food Items
I also start shopping at the Dollar store or discount store for small versions of common food items. As we are going to be eating breakfast and dinner in our room (this is tip #4) the nonperishable food items you only will use a little of, can be very pricey on the Island.
A small bottle of ketchup for the microwave chicken nuggets, that you thought you were saving on instead of purchasing at the poolside snack bar, will cost you over $4.00. At the Dollar store it is, you guessed it, $1 dollar. This is the same for mustard, mayonnaise, salt and pepper shakers, vegetable oil, vegetable spray, foil, baggies, and cheap food containers for left over.
These items can be all found for as little as a dollar or a little over, but they are all over priced at the Island grocery store. (They are planning that you are coming unprepared). Do not let them take your hard-earned money when a few trip before your vacation and an extra box in the car or bag on the plane will save you hundreds.
Saving Tip #4 Make Dinner In Your Hotel Room
Having a hotel room with a kitchen or even a kitchenette will help you save hundreds of dollars on your Beach Vacation. We have been so blessed with the Disney Vacation Club Membership that we always have a small kitchenette or a full kitchen depending on the room size. Even when I only had a small refrigerator, a small microwave and a little bit of counter space in the smallest rooms I made breakfast and dinner for our family.
As our family has grown up and we have added spouses we have booked larger rooms that have a full kitchen which had made meal planning and preparation easier. But even in that small kitchenette I cooked in an electric skillet and made our dinners.
Breakfast is the easiest as cereal, toast, pop tarts, instant oatmeal, bagels, and muffins are easy to make and serve. When the kids were very little it was baby food, then as toddlers it was cereal and one year our son saw at a discount store for $10.00 a Mickey Mouse Waffle maker. One year we ordered breakfast on our last day when all the food was gone and they had waffles in the shape of Mickeys head. When Joey pointed out the waffle maker I grabbed it up and we have been making Mickey waffles in our room ever since.
We bring that waffle maker every vacation and I make waffles. I buy a small maple syrup at home and bring packaged waffles mix. This is a huge saving from room service for three children.Dinner is a little more complicated but with planning and my electric appliances, I have been able to make a wholesome dinner each night. I also do not spend my whole afternoon in the kitchen. On our first trips, I would take an electric skillet. A few years later I took my slow cooker. Now, we do not go on a road trip vacation without my Electric Pressure Cooker.
I have a lot of pressure cooker recipes that are quick and easy, hands-free for a Dinner in a Flash. We make a trip to the grocery store when we get on the Island and one trip to Sam’s Club. I have the dinners all planned out so that I can buy the staples at home and bring them (see Saving Tip #3). Now that my children are older they help prepare a salad with each pressure cooker dinner. This way we save time and money.
Instead of splurging on a dinner out which for 7 of us is very pricey, we let everyone eat at the pool. The Hilton Head Island resort has two pools and two quick serve restaurant. The food is moderate price and lets everyone have one meal eat out a day.
Check our my favorite Vacation Pressure Cooker Recipes (Coming Soon)
~ Have a Great Beach Vacation ~ Susan