Vacation can be expensive if you don't stay on top of your budget. Even if you pay for the room and other major purchases in advance, it's often the little stuff – a nice meal out here, a round of putt-putt there – that adds up and to wreck your budget.
You don't have to pinch pennies while you're on vacation, but you don't want to waste dollars either. Here are five simple tips to save you some serious money and get even more bang for your buck without cutting out the fun:
Book early: If you plan ahead and know your vacation dates in advance, go ahead and book your room early for additional savings. Long Bay Resort's web site features special rates for early birds and flexible travelers, some offering up to 30 percent off. Other specials include free meals and drinks at the on-site restaurants and bars. If you're not a great planner, you still might be in luck. Last-minute deals can knock 40 percent off your accommodations just by visiting www.longbayresort.com.
Coupons: Upon checking in at the front desk of Long Bay, you will notice an information desk and rack filled with coupon booklets. Grab one of each and flip through them during some down time, clipping out the best deals to attractions, shops and restaurants you are interested in visiting. It might not seem like much, but a coupon offering 10 percent off a meal or buy-one, get-one deals can really add up in your budget.
Eat smart: Food is the biggest hidden budget-wrecker. A family of four can go out to grab a quick lunch or dinner and easily drop $100, money that could be better spent on entertainment or shopping. Start your week with a carefully planned trip to the grocery stores for all the basics – cereal or pastries for breakfast, bread and sandwich meat for lunch, and lots of drinks and snacks. There is a Food Lion and The Fresh Market just a few blocks from the resort. When you do go out, look for happy hour specials and have an early dinner. Nearby restaurants like Liberty Taphouse and Mr. Fish offer excellent happy hour food and drink specials from 4 to 8 p.m. Sure, you might get hungry again before bedtime but that's what the snacks are for.
Free stuff: Summer visitors are in luck, In addition to being the most popular time for a beach vacation, it also happens to be the peak time for free activities in the area. Free fireworks shows, concerts, and festivals are held on a nightly basis somewhere on the Grand Strand, especially at the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk. The Hot Summer Nights concert series features live music five nights a week, a Kids Carnival on Mondays and the only oceanfront fireworks display on Wednesdays from June through August.
Sun Fun Rewards: Guests at Long Bay are treated to a free Sun Fun Rewards package upon checking in. Hold on to it; this is your pass to big savings on area attractions. From June 7 through August 16, Long Bay guests receive one free ticket to Fun Warehouse, an all-day pass to Myrtle Waves Waterpark, and a Paradise Super Passport for unlimited play at three miniature golf courses. The special also offers free, unlimited DVD rentals in the hotel lobby. Make some popcorn and have a family movie night, or spend a rainy day catching up on first-run feature films you haven't had time to see. Best of all, it's all free just for staying at Long Bay.