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By Monica RandleFamilyvacation

I’ve always loved beach vacations. There’s nothing better than sinking your toes into the warm sand surrounded by rays of sunshine with an umbrella drink in your hand.

While traveling with my preschooler to the beach does not allow me to soak up the sun all day long and sip umbrella drinks, I do have some tips on how to come close on your next family vacation, as well as some budget-friendly options:

Research which beach is best. I was so happy to learn that he Key Largo Bay Marriott Beach Resort not only had calm waters that my son loved playing in with his trucks, but it was also shaded by palm trees. Older children swam freely without having to deal with dangerous waves, while parents lounged in hammocks. There was a small, nearby marina with boats that kept kids’ attention and also rented snorkel gear. I was concerned there was no baby pool, but the cheap inflatable I brought was all he needed. Children constantly rotated playing on the sand volleyball court, conveniently located on the beach and within earshot of their lounging parents.

Consider renting a condo or vacation home on the beach, especially if you have a large group. Vacation rentals tend to be more economical for groups, and you’ll save money on meals since you’ll have a kitchen to use. Plus, the children will love the sleepover aspect of all staying together. When renting vacation homes, we tend to look for ones that are located near restaurants and activities so we don’t have to rent a car. Some Florida beach towns, such as Seaside and Destin on the Panhandle; Miami’s South Beach and Key West to the south, and Marco, Captiva and Sanibel islands along the Gulf Coast, have rental properties and hotels that are in close proximity to restaurants and other activities. Manyoffer bicycle rentals so you can forgo your normal mini-van mode of transportation. Shuttle service is usually available from the airport near your destination.

– If possible, book a hotel or vacation home that has direct access to the beach. This may be more expensive than the property a mile away that requires you take a shuttle to the beach, but you will be so much happier to just have a short walk to retrieve something you forgot in your room or head back for a quick nap. Forgo the ocean view room and opt for a room without a view to save money.

Be flexible in your dates, if possible. Does your beach resort offer flexibility in check-in and check-out dates? Some places require Saturday to Saturday stays, whereas you might find cheaper flights for Tuesday-to-Tuesday stays, for example.

Book activities in advance for discounts at your beach location. Start talking about the activities with your kids before the trip to get them excited.

Bring beach toys and inflatable toys/rafts and plenty of sunscreen instead of buying at the gift shop.

Related Orbitz resources

Monica is a full-time working mom to a rambunctious preschooler, Logan. She enjoys cooking and spending time with her husband and son exploring their Chicago north side neighborhood.

Tagged: Family time, Florida

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