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On Friday morning I didn’t go to work, Charlie didn’t go to preschool, and Mark packed up the car so the three of us could head to the beach for the weekend. When Mark and I created our budget in January, we didn’t set aside any money for travel which, aside from being stunningly stupid, also means that everything we spent on this trip was grabbed from another part of the budget. Don’t ask me which part. I’m not sure. However, we did manage to cut costs on this little vacation. Here are some ways we didn’t spend a fortune:

1. We went to a beach within relatively easy driving distance. We wouldn’t have considered going anywhere we had to fly given the prohibitive costs of airline tickets and a rental car.

2. We picked a motel that was a block off the beach rather than on the beach. Though my fantasy beach vacation is to rent a house right on the beach and stay for a week, we couldn’t afford that (nor could I take that much time off work right now). Not having an ocean view from the motel saved us a bundle, but being only a block away meant that the beach was accessible any time we wanted. In fact, Charlie and I woke up early Saturday and Sunday mornings and wandered over to the beach to watch the sun rise. (As an aside, have you ever experienced something that you know instantly will become a forever memory? That’s how I felt watching the sunrises with Charlie.)

3. Our motel offered a mini kitchen. We brought a bunch of food from home and picked up some refrigerated items at a grocery store on our way into the beach town. Though we ate seafood dinners from restaurants both Friday and Saturday nights, we made breakfasts and lunches in the motel.

Certainly not a fancy motel (if “motel” and “fancy” can ever be used together), but fun for mid-century modern enthusiasts.

4. A good friend let us borrow beach gear including umbrellas, chairs, a bucket and a shovel (thanks, Kriste!). Since we almost never go to the beach (this is only our second time visiting the North Carolina beaches in the six years we’ve lived here – shame on us), we have no beach gear of any kind.

Charlie's enthusiasm for sand castles turns out to be limitless.

5. We went in the off-season. Prices for hotels, motels, and vacation rentals drop dramatically after Labor Day. Even though we’re closing in on the end of September, it’s been so darn hot here for months now. The beach weather this weekend felt like summer (but the beach was probably a lot less crowded than it is in the summer which was a bonus).

You can see I've been working on my tan.

I am so glad we took this trip. Though this was not a relaxing vacation — traveling with Charlie is never relaxing — we did have a great time and Charlie was overjoyed to be at the beach.

So where do you go to get away?

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