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  1. Default Trying to plan a low-budget beach trip

    Here's the deal..

    My boyfriend and I are trying to plan a short trip by the coast somewhere. I live in Orange County and he lives in LA, and we've both been to San Diego a bunch. We want to go somewhere we've never been, like Santa Barbara or Venture or something like that. I don't know what cities are worth exploring or affordable. We are both students so time and money is VERY limited. We were thinking a 3-4 day trip for under $400 (not including gas). I've never done this before, is this even realistic?!?! Can anyone give me any suggestions? :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Sure, with limitations

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You really shouldn't have any problems doing something like this under your budget, as long as you are willing to stay on a budget.

    I guess the biggest element will be deciding how you are planning to sleep. If you can camp, it will be very easy to stay on budget. You'd only need to spend $60 or so on lodging total. If you eat 2 meals out of a cooler, with one restaurant meal a day, you could limit your food budget to about $50 a day. If you aren't including gas, then those are your major expenses, and you'd still have at least $100 dollars for activities.

    Now if you are looking at motels, then you are going to really push up much closer to your budget limit. But even there, if you limited your spending on entertainment type items, you'd still be able to get in a very nice trip.

  3. Default Beach trips on a budget -- SoCal

    It's very possible to do 3-4 days on a beach trip on a budget of less than $400.

    However, you've got to be reasonable and realistic about lodging and food.

    If you're staying in hotels, then you'll probably be spending between $60-80 per night to put the two of you up. You can do it for that, but you won't be in 4 star hotels -- but places like best westerns, maybe 30 minutes from the beach. Similarly for food. If you go for restaurants every meal, you're going to burn through possibly $30-40 per day minimum for the two of you, and probably more.

    Now.. how can we cut the cost? The first is camping -- campgrounds, even the ones on the beach run maybe $25 per night on average. If you plan on camping on the beach (tent, sleeping bags, or sleeping in the back of the car) it will really stretch your dollars.

    The second is taking a cooler, and planning on most, if not all, your meals out of the cooler. If you have a campstove (or can borrow one, or a grill) you can get quite a more more variety in your meals and probably avoid buying a meal in a restaurant. Doing this cuts your food costs down by at least half, and I've found 2 people can travel with campstove and cooler for something around $20 a day without really scrimping on food other than putting in the cooler and doiing your own cooking (and cleaning up). If you desire, you can do 2 meals (breakfast and lunch for example) out of the cooler, and then splurge on a fast food/ restaurant meal for dinner -- that's about half way cost-wise between the minimum and higher cost. You can do that for around $30 day, wiithout resorting to fast food for dinner.

    So.. where can you go? Some places off the top of my head that might be doable (but probably camping trip affordable on a budget) could include

    - San Onofre State Beach in OC. Camping area, but good access to the the beach and good surfing. Reservations can be gotten on line.

    - Jalama Beach, north of Santa Barbara. No reservations accepted, but if you're going mid-week off season, its not too hard to get a camp site if you go early, in my experience. One of the most isolated beaches south of Big Sur. Also has a small burger-type restaurant/ snack bar. Camping is about $20/ night last time I checked.

    - San Simeon State Beach.. Just south of Hearst Castle, and right across PCH from the beach. Reservations available on line. Camping area, but a few small restaurants in the little town nearby.

    - Two Harbors Catalina Campground. You need to take the boat over from San Pedro for this, and camping costs are one of the more expensive -- $18 per person per night. But you camp about 1/4 mile from the little village at 2 harbors, and (if you get the right campsites) right next to the beach. You can snorkel right off the beach. There's a restaurant, little general store, and snack bar (burgers, etc) in town. Nice hiking around the island. Cost on this is about $60 per person transportation, plus camping, plus food. Reservations available on line for the campground -- and off season, duriing the week its pretty easy to get a reservation. Even during the summer, if you can book 30 days ahead you can get mid-week.

    - Scorpion Bay, Santa Cruz Island (Channel Islands National Park). This is also a boat trip, and you'll need reservations at the campground and on the boat. Cost is about the same as 2 harbors, but with no snack bar or general store available. Santa Cruz Island is the size of Catalina, but almost uninhabited (other than the rangers). Campground is about 1/4 to 1/2 mile from the dock, so you need to be prepared to carry everything. (We went prepared like a backpacking trip). Good hiking on multiple trails, good scenery, and some snorkling off the beach. Good kayaking if you bring one (extra cost) or you can arrange a kayak trip with the concessionaire when you get your boat reservation (at extra cost, or course). Figure $60 for the boat, plus whatever food you eat, and about $12/ night per the campsite.

    There are several other places you can check into - but these are the ones I know the most about, having stayed at all of them in the last 3-4 years. Other ones include some of the Big Sur beaches (longer drive), Montana de Oro State Beach (near San Luis Obispo), Avalon (there's a campground about 2 miles walk from the beach at Avalon), Little Harbor (Catalina), Ben Weston (Catalina), or Crystal Cove near Laguna (Cabins on the beach, but you need to reserva about a year ahead of time).

    If you're willing to stay a little bit away from the beach at an inexpensive hotel, then there are more options...

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