Enjoy the ocean breeze without breezing through your savings.

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When choosing a beach vacation, find one off the beaten path to avoid the crowds and inflated hotel costs.

By Holly Perez

Dipping your toes into the warm sand with an umbrella drink in hand does not have to cost a fortune. Fun in the sun can be enjoyed on a budget. Here are a few ways to take in that ocean breeze without breaking the bank this summer:  And before you book go to guruescape.com

Budget now. There is still plenty of time to plan and budget for a summer trip. When planning a vacation, make sure to take into account all transportation expenses, including airfare or train tickets, gas for your car or rental car fees, and public transportation costs once you get to your destination. Don’t forget about those miscellaneous items such as shopping at seaside boutiques, dining out or entrance fees at boardwalk attractions. If you lead an active lifestyle, consider rental fees associated with surfboards or bicycles, or the cost of acquiring car equipment (roof racks or tows for boats and Jet Skis) if you’re bringing your own gear.

Have a “staycation” beach vacation. You don’t have to travel far to enjoy a great beach vacation. There are a number of family-friendly and affordable beaches throughout the United States just waiting to be enjoyed. Pack a picnic lunch, curl up on a beach towel under the stars or take a day trip with the family. You’ll save on travel expenses while enjoying the beauty of nature in your own backyard. And if you don’t live near a beach, look for fun ways to bring the beach to you this summer! Host a tropical pool party potluck with all the summer treats such as watermelon, barbecued hot dogs and hamburgers, and ice cream. Complete the party with beach balls, surf music and plenty of lounge chairs.

Avoid peak times. Major holidays and weekends are busy times for beach communities. Hotels charge peak season rates between Memorial Day and Labor Day. If possible, consider a weekday beach getaway, or plan a trip in September when rates are lower and many schools are back in session. Affordable prices aren’t the only upside. Depending on what coast you’re visiting, the weather and water are both still pleasantly warm, and the crowds are more manageable.

Choose a beach off the beaten path. Location is everything when it comes to a beach vacation, but that doesn’t mean you need to choose one with a national reputation. While Miami Beach, Myrtle Beach and Santa Monica are renowned for their luxurious stretches of sand, their popularity with summer travelers means they’re often significantly more expensive to visit than neighboring beach towns that are lesser known. Make sure you do your research, and see if a cheaper alternative adjacent to your dream beach exists – often it does!

Consider renting a condo or vacation home. A hotel isn’t the only option when traveling. In fact, it’s often not the best option when it comes to your budget or sanity. Vacation homes are typically more affordable when you rent them for the entire week, especially if you have a big family or large group. They also have the added benefit of a kitchen, so you can easily prepare meals without dining out. When renting vacation homes, consider finding one from a site with a large network of users like Airbnb or VRBO. Look for properties that are located near restaurants, activities and the beach so you’ll enjoy the convenience without having to rent a car.

Plan ahead for your activities. When choosing affordable beach vacations for families or large groups, think about what everyone wants to do, and factor that into your budget. Young families will likely want to head to beaches that have lifeguards, convenient restrooms and calm waters. Teenagers will most likely want a little adventure like snorkeling or surfing. Ask ahead if there are any discounts on lessons or activities. Bring beach toys and inflatable rafts and plenty of sunscreen instead of buying the marked-up products at the gift shop.

Beating the heat and enjoying the sand this summer doesn’t have to come with a giant price tag. A little due diligence before you don the swimsuits can go a long way to making your beach vacation an affordable getaway.