Since my hubby and I are currently working on paying off $117,000 of student loan debt, we don’t normally travel.  But thanks to my in-laws’ timeshare and frequent flyer miles, we had the opportunity to go to Myrtle Beach recently for a very low cost.

We didn’t have to pay anything for the hotel and the flights were cheap, so the only expenses we had to worry about were food and entertainment.

We were still a little hesitant to go on the vacation because we’re trying to be so frugal, but I’m glad we did.  We had an amazing time and we found several ways to save money during the trip.  It was definitely worth it!

This was the first real vacation we’ve been on since our honeymoon three years ago and it was so nice to get a little break.

Highlights of the Trip

-The view from our hotel room was incredible.  It had been 7 years since the last time my hubby and I had seen the ocean and it was wonderful to see it again.

myrtle beach ocean-This was our first time in South Carolina (and anywhere in the Deep South…aside from Florida), so it was really interesting to go somewhere new!  I love the accents :) It was funny that everyone seemed to have a hard time understanding us with our Minnesotan/Iowan accents.

-We went to the Paula Deen restaurant and it was amazing!  I’m a picky eater, so I was a little skeptical about the place at first, but I was pleasantly surprised.  All of the food was incredible.

How We Saved Money in Myrtle Beach

We found several ways to save money, including: packing lunches, finding free things to do, saying “no” to ourselves sometimes, using coupons, and taking pictures.

Packing Lunches

I hate cooking and love the convenience of eating out, but it’s something I rarely do because of our debt.  When we’re on vacation, we don’t want to spend the entire time holed up in our hotel room eating ramen noodles, but we also don’t want to spend a fortune each day going out to eat.  I think it’s important to find a balance and the general rule of thumb I go by is eating one meal out per day.

While we were in Myrtle Beach, we went grocery shopping at Walmart and made all of our breakfasts at the hotel.  Then, we ‘d either go out for lunch or dinner and then we’d eat the other meal back at the hotel.

We took a day trip to Charleston one day and packed sandwiches in a cooler so we wouldn’t have to go out for both lunch and dinner.  By eating one meal a day out, we still got to enjoy the experience of eating out but didn’t have to spend a ton of money on food each day.

Finding Free Things to Do

Luckily, there are plenty of free things to do in Myrtle Beach.  Our hotel was right on the beach, and my favorite part of the trip was simply going for walks on the beach, which didn’t cost a thing.

We also walked down The Boardwalk, checked out Waterfront Park, browsed around Charleston, and spent a little time enjoying the scenery in Little River, South Carolina.

myrtle beach south carolina ocean

Myrtle Beach

waterfront park fountain charleston south carolina

Waterfront Park in Charleston

little river south carolina oyster trees

Checking out oyster-filled Little River

Saying “No” to Ourselves Sometimes

I gave myself permission to spend money on a few things, like touring the Hopsewee Plantation in Georgetown and the Calhoun Mansion in Charleston (where a scene from The Notebook was filmed!), but I didn’t allow myself to go overboard.

calhoun mansion charleston south carolina

A scene from The Notebook was filmed here!

The Myrtle Beach Safari offers the opportunity to play with baby tigers, and I would’ve loved to do that.  I will someday (it’s on my bucket list now!), but it’s not cheap, and I just couldn’t justify spending the money on it right now.  It’s definitely possible to strike a balance between having fun and not overspending on a vacation.

Using Coupons

Many hotels offer coupons and discounted group outings.  Make sure to check these out!  Our hotel offered a free round of mini golf and numerous other coupons for nearby stores and events.

Taking Pictures

One of my favorite things to do on vacation is to simply enjoy the scenery and take photos – which is free!  (Obviously, I had to buy the camera… but taking the pictures now is free).

I’ve also started taking pictures of cute little things I find instead of buying them.  (See cute mug + pug stuffed animal below).  Less clutter AND less money wasted on stuff I’ll never use.

gift shop mug pug flip flops

How do you save money while traveling?

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