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Trip Report: 2-Night Atlantic Beach Getaway for $100 Total

My daughter and I took a trip to the beach a few weekends back and today I’m sharing how we made the trip for a little over $100. This includes two nights at a hotel, gas, food, and entertainment!

My husband was out of town on a fishing trip so the girls headed to beautiful Atlantic Beach, NC. Here’s how we had a fantastic time on a limited budget:

Two Nights at Holiday Inn Express Havelock: $40

I spent $40 total on our two nights lodging at the Holiday Inn Express – Havelock NW New Bern thanks to my stash of IHG Rewards points. This hotel costs 15,000 points per night (which is pretty low for IHG properties) and I was a little short on points for both nights. I opted for a Cash+Points stay for our second night, which required 10,000 points plus $40.

One trick I like to use to save money on travel is to stay a little distance away from an attraction. We love to stay at a hotel right on the beach, but we can’t always afford it! We stayed in a great hotel about 20 minutes from the beach for FAR less than it would cost to stay beach-front.

I have Platinum Status with IHG due to the fact that I hold an IHG Rewards Club Mastercard (one the cards I highlight in this post on my five favorite cards for free travel) and one perk of this status is free room upgrades when available.

I called the hotel the morning we were checking in and mentioned that I would love to have an upgrade if at all possible. My few minutes on the phone paid off – we were upgraded to a 2-room executive suite, complete with a kitchenette and whirlpool tub!

I LOVED having a separate living room area in which to relax after the little one went to sleep! The huge whirlpool tub was such a treat, too.

We spent a few hours at the pool on two occasions and it was clean and warm. A pool is a necessity for us when traveling!

Overall I think we got incredible value from my points plus cash stay and would recommend this property to anyone.

Gas: $25

I spent about $25 in gas on the trip. Since we are talking IHG Rewards, I save $0.06 per gallon just for linking my IHG Rewards Mastercard to my Shell Fuel Rewards account! You can read all about this money-saving tip in this post. To save this much per gallon at most stations you’d have to have their own co-branded credit card, but thankfully not at Shell.

Activities: $17.50

We got to the beach early and got an awesome parking spot. I paid $7.50 to park for five hours at the public beach parking that’s available near the circle and boardwalk. We had the beach practically to ourselves at first, but it was jam-packed when we left at 1:30 pm. The weather was absolutely perfect and we both had a fantastic time.

After the beach, we headed for the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, which is about a 10-minute drive from downtown Atlantic Beach. Because we are members of our local science museum, we got half-price admission to the aquarium thanks to the AZA Reciprocal Admission Program.

It cost $10 total for our visit, and we loved the touch tanks and learning about sea turtle conservation.

I always look for ways to take advantage of our membership when traveling. We even got into an amazing science museum in Fort Lauderdale totally for free thanks to our membership and the ASTC Travel Passport Program!

Food: $18

While I did buy us some ice cream at the aquarium, we didn’t spend much at on food overall thanks to 1) bringing a bunch of food with us from home and 2) eating the delicious free breakfast at our hotel both mornings!

The breakfast was above average for a Holiday Inn Express, in my opinion. We loaded up before heading to the beach.

We grabbed a cheap dinner at the Four Corners Diner after our big day at the beach. My fish sandwich and my daughter’s cheeseburger only set up back $12 plus tip.

Our total for this whole trip was $102, which I consider a total bargain considering what a great time we had.

I hope this post gave you some ideas for taking family trips that are both fun and affordable! Any questions about how I plan trips on the cheap? Please leave a comment below!

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