Memorial Day weekend I needed to get away. I’d been stressed and busy for so long that I needed some downtime away from it all to just reconnect with my family. Being it would be what America has accepted as the official start of summer, what better place to go than the beach? I found a three night deal at a typical Jersey Shore motel (aka, a humid room where your bathing suit never dries and the shower has the pressure of a watering can) and then left it up to chance. If the dog camp had an opening then we should go. The vacay gods were in our favor. Our dog got his accommodations and we got our own. Hooray, beach bound!
We booked our weekend in Point Pleasant, NJ. This was the same beach I shared with Rosie Pierri two summers ago. Now this is not the reason I went back, as much as I do adore Rosie. I’ve been visiting Point Pleasant since I was a fifth grader in camp. It’s great for both day trips and overnights from where I live. It’s been a happy constant in my life. So happy, in fact, that I was married in the neighboring town of Spring Lake in a beachside ceremony. Last summer I may have been Hamptoning with New York’s Housewives, but my true roots are in the land of Snookie.
Back in the day the Jersey Shore trip was the bare bones of summer family travel. The bulk of your budget went to the damp motel room, or share of a house not quite different from the shack John Candy and company ended up inhabiting in the 80’s film Summer Rental. You spent little during the day, sustaining yourself on pizza, ice cream cones, and funnel cake. The largest expense was if your sunscreen ran out and you had to be the chump who spent double for it on the boardwalk.
Lord how things have changed! My weekend in Point Pleasant left me feeling like the Point Peasant. That pizza is now upwards of 4 bucks a slice, parking (which I used to do for free on some side street) is now commanded by those municipal meter machines (lining the streets like little soldiers of financial warfare) that charge $3 per hour, and dinner at restaurants that serve your tartar sauce in a package can cost your family around $80! My vacation budget went right out the window!
Beyond food and parking there are the entertainment costs; $9.50 per adult to get onto the beach, $25 for the smaller book of ride tickets…and the rides cost 3-5 tickets each; if you want to go to the aquarium,funhouse, or miniature golf course, be prepared to shell out upwards of $30 for a family of four. It’s truly out of control.
I’m not sure if it’s inflation or the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, but being Jersey Strong costs an arm and a leg. It also seems you can build a pretty dope house with insurance money. The rebuilds there are gargantuan mansions…and these are only summer homes?
On the upside we had a fantastic time and made many beautiful memories. Interacting with little ones at the beach is priceless. The joy as my twins and I (ok really I) built our first family sandcastle was worth every inflated penny I spent. However, if you are going to the Jersey Shore, or on any summer getaway, in the next 3 blissful months here are some tips for saving:
*Bring some things from your own supermarket to save on extra spending:water, juice boxes, iced teas etc. as well as easy to pack snacks. Having some of your own food and drink will carry you between meals and many motel rooms do offer a small refrigerator and microwave. If you rent a place with a kitchen you can cook many of your meals for even bigger savings.
*BYOB- Whats the beach without a cocktail? Bring a bottle of your fave and imbibe before or/and after a night on the town. If you are traveling with kids please do it after!
*Locate the nearest CVS or other big name pharmacy. Go there if you need any toiletries, sunscreen, etc. If you buy anything at a beach shop it will be 150% the price. Even better if you use a coupon!
*Locate the nearest Dunkin Donuts and grab your breakfasts there. At DD’s we spent an average of $10 per breakfast. The morning we went out for pancakes we spent $32! (Be really frugal and bring a bag of pre-sliced bagels and your favorite spread and put it into that motel fridge)
*Don’t always buy on the Boardwalk. An ice cream sundae cost us $7 on the good ol’ BW. It was half that at a popular shop in town.
* Go to budget stores like Christmas Tree Shops and invest in your own beach gear as opposed to paying umbrella and the like rental fees.
Oh and one last piece of advice, that silly ticket from the evil parking machine? Make sure it’s got center stage on your dashboard. We got a $48 parking ticket because an officer felt it was not displayed right. Then there was an additional $2 fee to pay it online. There’s a fine line apparently between Jersey Strong and Jersey Gipped!
Happy summer everybody!