Last weekend, I didn’t go to the Bahamas, or the Dominican Republic, or Mexico (but I did go there the weekend before). I did not spend thousands of dollars or wake up at the crack of dawn to get on an airplane. I did not try to stuff a suitcase or budget my money so that I could go parasailing, scuba diving, swimming with dolphins.
However, I did get in a car and drive about two hours down the New Jersey Parkway to go to Wildwood. I spent about 1/100 of the cost of a normal vacation and had just as much fun, if not more. The beauty of New Jersey (yes, it exists) is that there are a thousand of hidden (and not-so-hidden) day trips that are in our backyards, and no matter where you’re from, I’m sure that they are in yours, too. So stop whining that you didn’t get to go on vacation this summer, read some of these saving-money-on-vaca tips, and get in the car.
1. Go for a bike ride. In Wildwood, we rented cute little beach cruisers (one of them, i.e. mine, was very little) for FIVE DOLLARS. You get the bikes for an hour, which is really all you need, and wander down the boardwalk in the morning when it’s still a little cool and you’re not ready to go sit on the beach and bake yet. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t ride bikes often (because I have no balance) so it was a nice treat to cruise alongside the beach for less than what my breakfast costs.
2. Visit a theme park. Most theme parks offer tickets for between $20 and $40 (any more than that is a little ridiculous). At Six Flags, with the bringing of a Coke can from your nearest WaWa, you can buy one get one free, which is pretty sick since Six Flags is great. In Wildwood, we got a family pack and each paid $25 and all went on about seven rides together. Log flume, roller coasters, Dante’s Dungeon, “It”, and of course, the ferris wheel, is well worth $25 to me and a few hours out on the boardwalk.
4. Watch a sunset. This is the really cool thing about nature. It’s FREE. It’s so easy to bring a couple beers, maybe some chips, and go sit somewhere nice and watch the sun set. Now I wasn’t really aware of this, but the sun actually sets pretty fast, so by the time you get bored of identifying clouds and getting embarrassingly drunk it’s time to leave anyway. And if you visit the beautiful Sunset Lake in Wildwood, you’ll see this–
5. Check out the local night scene. I don’t know about you, but I get pretty bored going out to the same bars in my town once in a while. Same old same old. But when you’re away, even if it’s only a half an hour or an hour, you have the chance to go to all new places! In Wildwood, we each paid $3 for a cab to take us a few blocks to Keenan’s Irish Pub, which is a huge place with no cover charge and quite a few bars (one outside, one for an older crowd, one for dads, one with live music, one with dance music…) Point is, no matter where you are, the night scene is NEW. This is a good thing.
6. Eat cheap. It requires a little extra planning, but it’s worth it to bring along a couple bagels and boxes of cereal and snacks. This could save you buying a few meals, which when going on day trips, will save you like half the money you were going to spend anyway. Buy some sandwiches at WaWa and save your dollars for something that matters. And NEVER buy waters/soda. Just bring a damn water bottle. In Wildwood, they practically give food away on the boardwalk, which is actually surprising. Dollar hotdogs, 89 cent pizza slices? May not be too sanitary, but hey, you’ll live.