Planning The Perfect Day At The Beach (Or Lake)

altOff from work today? What better way to finish off a holiday weekend than at the beach or lake near you?  While the best parts about the beach (the sun, waves and ocean water) come free, there are a few things you need to plan for in advance to have fun on a budget.

First, find out if there is public transportation to the beach or lake near you.  Taking public transportation will obviate the need for you to purchase a parking pass, and oftentimes, you can get a travel package (transportation & beach pass) that would be more economical than buying each part separately.  Research and buy before you board.  On-board fare is usually more than pre-booked tickets.  Taking a minute to plan can save you, in certain cities, $6 - enough to buy a new bikini top (more on that below).

Next, take a peak at the list below. We’ve mapped out inexpensive items to take with you.



You are going to be thirsty, there’s no doubt about that.  If you are not taking public transportation and will have a car to transport all of your things with you, bring a small cooler with lots of water.  If you spend the entire day at the beach, you'll most likely be drinking more than your normal intake, due to the heat.  These days, you can find a cheap six-pack cooler for well under $5 online, and stock it with enough water to get you through the day.  A bottle of water at nearby store before your trip should cost you about $1 per bottle. At the beach, that same bottle could be double or triple that price. Another more cost and environmentally conscious option would be to buy a couple of Nalgene bottles (starting at about $6.95) and fill them up before your trip.



Old Navy has decent flip flops in every color for only $3.50, and H&M bikinis start at only $4.95 per piece this season, or $9.90 plus tax for a complete set!  Check out our list of other suits that won’t hang you out to dry. Layer on a shirt and shorts, and you're good to go!


The cost of most beach umbrellas you buy online or in-store will start around $20, while a day-rental will likely cost anywhere from $10-$20 (or more).  If you're anticipating getting more than two uses out of your umbrella, it'll save you money to buy.


A solid beach towel is an absolute must.  We love these colorful cotton-terry ones for only $5.95.

The other essentials.


Don’t forget to pack sunscreen, sunglasses, some form of entertainment (volleyball, soccer ball, surfboard, book), plastic bags (to keep wet clothes and your sandy towel in), a hat and a change of clothes.


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