Fire-up the barbecue, dust off the cooler; dab on the sunscreen, the unofficial beginning of Summer is about to start.
However, this year unlike previous years, the cost to travel to your favorite Jersey Shore vacation spot is considerably cheaper, according to research conducted by the Affinity Federal Credit Union. In its survey, Affinity found that the cost of a day trip at the Jersey Shore increased by just 4% from last year.
Although you’re still likely to feel the inflation pinch in your wallet, the good news however, is it won’t hurt as much as in the “Summers past” most notably in 2021 and again in 2022 when the inflation rate skyrocketed to 16%, negatively impacting Summer rentals, motels and eateries along the roughly 130 miles of Jersey coastline along with the 40 or so, distinctive and charming beach towns, many catering exclusively to Summer tourism.
Gas Prices Down
Moreover, if you’re traveling by auto this Summer to your favorite Jersey Shore vacation spot, the price of gas according to AAA Mid-Atlantic has decreased by an astounding 23% from last Summer.
Nevertheless, food and drink, beach services and other activities have all seen a modest increase. And while inflation is still wreaking havoc, although less severe, there are creative steps one can take to ease the financial burden of enjoying a Summer vacation on the Jersey Shore.
A Modest 4% Increase
The research, conducted via a May 2023 survey of New Jersey Shore town businesses and compared to products and services surveyed in Summer 2022, shows moderate increases in three tourism-related categories for 2023:
- Beach services, such as beach tags, chair and umbrella rentals, are up 4% year-over-year (YOY);
- Food and drink, including coffee, taffy and pizza, have increased 11% YOY; and
- Leisure activities, such as mini golf and amusement park rides, are 8% higher YOY.
First and foremost, plan ahead. It’s important to gauge and understand how significant inflation can slowly eat away when preparing a budget. Planning a Summer vacation or even a weekend getaway at the Jersey Shore can become costly if you don’t budget wisely. It’s important to also be smart when it comes to spending.
Budget every item on your vacation list “before” leaving your home; make sure you’re well aware of what things will cost. Avoid if possible impulse buying and make sure you’re allocating enough money appropriately in real time.
State Beaches Free
Affinity’s Jacqui Kearns, chief brand, strategy and wellbeing officer offers that consumers should “proactively implement money-saving strategies that help their dollar go further.”
Overextending your financial limit on vacation, however, can put you at risk when you go home with additional and needless debt, which will no doubt defeat the purpose of your vacation in the first place, by adding to your stress level.
However, even if you’re on a tight budget, you can still enjoy a day trip to the Jersey Shore by taking advantage of the countless freebees offered. For example, check out the dozens of states operated “free beaches” and “public parks” many equipped with kiddy playgrounds, basketball courts and built in barbecue pits catering to day vacationers, along with hundreds of miles of scenic nature and bicycle trails to enjoy.
These stunning stretches of sand require NO beach fees. Here are just a few beach communities that welcome visitors with “free beach” enjoyment: Atlantic City, Bay Front, Beesley’s Point, Highlands, Ideal Beach, Keansburg Beach, Leonardo Beach, Strathmere, and The Wildwoods.
Take Advantage of Discounts
If you’re a senior citizen or a veteran, take advantage of the countless discounts offered by motels, restaurants and other numerous vendors. If you’re an AARP subscriber, check out their compiled annual list of vendors offering discounts to members in good standing.
Also, don’t forget to utilize those free apps like GetUpside and GasBuddy which can help you stretch those gas dollars. Other apps and websites like AAA Trip Travel Planner, Waze, and MapQuest can help you find the cheapest gas stations on route to your vacation destination.
Researching your cash back or bonus cards could also be another source of savings for you. Many credit cards offer bonus categories, which may include gas. Check it out and do the math when there’s a price difference between paying cash and using your credit card. In some instances, it may actually be cheaper paying by cash.
“It is relieving to see costs have increased at a much more moderate rate this year compared to last,” Kearns told ROI-NJ.com. “This means it is significantly more achievable for families to enjoy the quintessential Jersey Shore experience this Summer.”