Last Saturday, Mike and I went on vacation.
Basically we hopped in the car and drove 3 hours to the nearest beach-- Virginia Beach-- for the day! (Mike has a thing for ocean beaches, rather than bay or lake beaches, which are probably sliiiightly closer to us, but it's just not the ocean ;) )
Sound a little crazy? 3 hours each way just for a few hours on the beach? Nope. It was GLORIOUS and I totally think more people should take vacations like this!!
Our setup: beach umbrella, double wide towel, two beach chairs (got these and the umbrella from Costco, def cheaper than what they are on Amazon), and a little cooler (we got the purple version from Costco a few years ago). It's taken 2 years to accumulate all that stuff but now that we have it, it's GLORIOUS. I spend almost all my time under the umbrella #paleprobs. Oh and I promise we weren't the only ones there; this was at 10am before the rest of the beachgoers arrived!
So anyway. Here's the thing that you might not realize about trips to the beach: they can be SUPER DUPER CHEAP, as long as you plan ahead!
Tip #1: Bring Food & Drink
Mike and I brought sandwiches, snacks, and plenty of drinks with us in the cooler so that we wouldn't have to buy anything at the beach. And we have ice packs so everything stays cold!
I'm sure anything we found to eat there would be like $5-10 per person, and bottles of water are probably like $3... so we save a LOT by bringing our own food. Saturday we had turkey, tomato, kale, and avocado sandwiches with italian dressing! So good.
Tip #2: Find Free Parking
I've mentioned in the past (oooold post!!) how easy it can be to find free parking lots. This trip was no different. Mike googled something like "free parking at VA beach" and got a ton of answers that you can park at the Virginia Beach Convention Center for FREE. So we did that and walked the mile or so to the beach, and laughed as we passed all the pay-to-park lots. (we did look slightly ridiculous/uber-touristy lugging our beach chairs, umbrella, cooler, etc... but oh well)
Tip #3: Bring Lots of Sunscreen
Sunburn is painful AND super bad for you; don't let it happen to you. Be sure you bring lots of sunscreen with you! (my two favorites: Coppertone Oil Free and Coppertone Clearly Sheer-- I've used them for the past year and never gotten a sunburn! but make sure you use enough and reapply often!)
I stress the sunscreen issue for two reasons: 1) because it's SUPER expensive if you decide to buy some once you're at the beach and 2) because if you get a sunburn you might want to leave early and no one wants to cut an already short day-vacation even shorter! oh and I guess 3) because I want your skin to be well protected ;)
Tip #4: Settle in for the long haul.
Mike and I are really good at going to the beach. I know some people get antsy and can't just 'do nothing' for hours on end... but we are great at it. I read or nap or people watch and Mike goes in the ocean and listens to music (not at the same time). And occasionally we go for a little stroll down the beach or boardwalk.
When we went this past Saturday, we spent over 7 hours at the beach and never got bored, because we had prepared so well. It would suck if we drove 3 ours each way just to leave after being there for an hour or two. NOT worth it. So be sure you've brought everything you can think of so that you can stay as long as possible!!
While we were there, the yearly Sand Soccer tournament was happening! It was super exciting because I played in the tournament probably like 3 times back in high school/college? It was really nice to NOT be playing because let me tell you... it is HARD to play soccer in the sand!
We also wandered down the boardwalk to see this big Neptune statue. Along the way we got a free can of Monster's new iced tea drink and two McDonalds smoothie samples and a popcorn sample... going during Sand Soccer was a really good idea because there were so many vendors out.
We finally left around 5 and headed over to a new-to-us brewery, Smartmouth Brewing! We got a flight and enjoyed it while listening to...
... a two-man ukulele band? They were really good!
Then we went and got bbq and then drove home and stopped at my college town on the way to get ice cream and walk around downtown andddd then finally got home at 12:30... after leaving our house at 6am :)
It was a looooong day but really did feel like a vacation to us!
So in conclusion, beach trips are super duper cheap. If we hadn't done the beer tasting or bbq or ice cream, and just headed straight home for dinner instead, all we would have spent Saturday was the price of gas-- about 1 tank worth! ~$30 for a whole day at the beach? I'll take it :)
Are there any super cool places to take a mini-vacation within a 3 hour radius of you?
You should TOTALLY plan a day to visit there as a vacation this summer!! :) :)