Temperatures are warming up, and the sand and surf are calling.
A day at the beach is a great and inexpensive summer activity, but costs can creep up if you’re not careful.
Here are some tips on keeping your summer beach costs down:
If you can easily drive to a beach, you know that it’s hard to find parking spots there. Both private and public beaches can charge an outrageous amount to park.
If you have four people going to the beach and parking is $20 a car, why take two separate cars? Carpool and split the cost among everyone.
2. Bring your own food
There are usually plenty of food trucks, food carts and seaside restaurants around beaches, but the food can be overpriced.
One of the best ways to save money when you visit the beach is to bring a cooler of your own food. Prepare some sandwiches, throw in some fruit or other snacks, drinks, a bag of ice, and you’re good to go.
3. Buy food away from the beach
If you are going to bring your own food to the beach, consider buying groceries outside the beach town. Food prices tend to be almost double in high tourist areas because local markets know they can jack up the prices and people will pay.
4. Stay cheap
Consider booking a room in a motel or renting out someone’s summer house. You might not have a beautiful room, but there’s a good chance you’ll be paying significantly less, and the purpose of visiting the beach is to be outside, not in your room all day.
It’s also a great time to consider camping in areas where that’s acceptable. Get a tent and fall asleep to the sound of the waves.
5. Get a non-waterfront hotel
If you want to stay in a hotel, renting a room in a hotel that is not on the waterfront will save you money. Hotels close to the beach tend to be more expensive than hotels that are farther away from the beach, but sometimes the distance is no more than a few blocks and easily walkable.
6. Find free activities
While it might be tempting to rent jet skis or go scuba diving, those costs can climb quickly. Think about what you can do on a lower budget. For example, get some cheap snorkeling gear and explore the waters that way, instead of spending money on a scuba excursion.
7. Avoid beachfront stores
Beachfront stores are filled with touristy junk -- poorly made knickknacks that will fall apart and beach equipment that is overpriced. For example, you might find beach umbrellas there for twice the amount you’d find miles away.
Buy your towels, chairs, bags and umbrellas before you go on vacation or at a non-beach-related store away from the hotels and beaches.
This is a basic need for any vacation, but it’s easy to look at a few days at the beach and think you won’t spend much money. You’ll probably be right, but there are other things on which you might spend your money, such as food, entertainment or souvenirs. Going on vacation without a set budget can easily cause you to spend more money than you intended.
9. Go during the offseason
Offseason is a relative term for a beach vacation. Offseason on Cape Cod is much different than it is in Florida.
Offseasons are generally from September to November or late February to early May. You’ll find that hotels and flights are cheaper and they’ll be less hassle while you’re visiting the beach and other attractions.
Many large, popular beaches are near many different amenities and attractions. You might want to see what type of public transportation is available or if you’ll need to rent a car. If there is a decent public transportation system, take advantage of it instead of renting a car.
Better yet, if everything you need is nearby, walk everywhere.
If you’re planning day activities, your hotel might also have free shuttle services.
Summer is coming!
Although the first official day of spring didn’t hit until March 20, by the first day of April this year, some parts of the U.S. had already hit temperatures in the 80s and 90s.
Here are 10 tips on safety during warm temperatures:
1. Go outside in moderation
Most things are best in moderation. While it’s tempting to be outside as much as you can while the sun is out, especially after a long winter, it’s well researched that extended sun exposure is not good for you.
Reduce exposure to the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when UV rays are strongest.
2. Wear a hat
If you are outside, wear a wide-brimmed hat to cover your face and neck. Look for hats that include UV ratings on the labels.
Wear loose-fitting clothing to keep cool and to protect your skin from the sun and mosquitoes.
3. Wear sunglasses
It’s not just because you’re cool -- sunglasses help protect your eyes. Wear sunglasses that provide 100 percent UVA and UVB protection.
Chronic exposure to the sun can cause cataracts, which left untreated, can lead to blindness.
4. Wear sunscreen
When you’re out on the beach, liberally apply sunscreen (at least SPF 15) 15 minutes before stepping on the sand and re-apply at least every two hours -- sunscreen prevents skin cancer and prevents premature aging.
5. Take heat breaks
Hiking, biking, yard sports -- they’re all fun summer things to do. But if the temperatures are climbing into the 90s or 100s, that can quickly lead to dehydration.
Keep physical activities to a minimum during excessively high temperatures. Whether working or playing outside, drink plenty of water even if you are not thirsty, and take rest breaks in the shade.
6. Take little ones out of the car
If the temperatures are climbing, no one you care about should be left in a parked car, especially infants, children or frail elderly people. And don’t leave them unattended. It can take as little as 10 minutes for the temperature inside a car to rise to levels that can kill.
7. Ward off overheating
To prevent overheating and/or sunstroke, use cool compresses, misting, showers and baths. If you or someone nearby experiences a rapid, strong pulse, feels delirious, becomes unconscious or has a body temperature above 102, call 911 immediately.
8. Keep an eye on young swimmers
Young children love to cool off in the water, but they can get over their heads quickly. Prevent children from drowning by combining adult supervision at all times and have a safety barrier that surrounds a pool or spa.
Drowning is the leading cause of injury deaths for children under 5.
9. Defend your home from insects
Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Some mosquitoes carry West Nile virus which often mimics influenza, with fevers, body aches and eye pain. West Nile virus can cause serious health complications, and in rare cases, death.
Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flower pots, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls. Mosquitoes breed and lay eggs in standing water.
10. Defend yourself from insects
Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535 according to label instructions. You can also make your own with essential oils, natural witch hazel, distilled water and vegetable glycerin.
Mosquitoes usually bite in the early morning and evening, so it is important to wear repellent at those times.
Three classic game pieces in the game of Monopoly have been given the boot — including the boot.
The wheelbarrow and thimble are also out, thanks to an online vote in January by Hasbro, the parent company of Monopoly, CNN reported.
They will be replaced by a T-Rex, rubber ducky and penguin, which will join the five classic tokens: Scottie the dog, hat, car, cat and battleship. The boot, wheelbarrow and thimble won't appear in the game starting this fall. The iron, another classic piece, was dropped in 2013 in favor of a cat.
Monopoly fans from 146 countries cast a total of 4.3 million votes during the contest, Hasbro told The Huffington Post. Game piece options that didn’t make the cut include smiley face emojis, a cellphone and aviator sunglasses.
The boot and thimble have been part of the board game since Parker Brothers introduced it in 1935, while the wheelbarrow has been a fixture since 1956.
In the online vote, Monopoly fans were asked to choose their favorite eight tokens from 64 different possibilities, CNN reported. Fifty-six choices were brand new, including smiley face emojis, a cellphone and aviator sunglasses, The Huffington Post reported.
"While we can't say why these exact tokens were chosen or who exactly chose them, we know they represent the voices of our fans — young and old — from around the world," Jonathan Berkowitz, senior vice president of marketing for Hasbro Gaming, told CNN.
Still, he said fans of the now rejected boot, wheelbarrow and thimble did rally hard to keep them around longer.
"We saw a lot of passionate fans out there, including Singer Sewing Co., who rallied their fans on their social pages to keep the thimble token," Berkowitz told CNN. Hardware chain Ace Hardware used social media to drum up support for the wheelbarrow.
"I imagine that the thimble, boot, and wheelbarrow tokens don't resonate as much with today's fans," Berkowitz said.
Just in time for the July 4 holiday, the New York Times has released an explainer piece on just how prevalent shark attacks are (not very), and where they mostly take place (where the food is).
But just as helpful as these tidbits of knowledge is a short synopsis of what you, a swimmer in the ocean, can do to NOT be attacked by a shark.
Here they are:
1. Don’t go swimming at dusk, night or dawn, when sharks are more likely to be active and feeding.
2. Avoid murky water, where sharks are more likely to mistake you for shark food.
3. Bleeding? Don’t go swimming in the ocean.
The experts say shark attacks are no more prevalent than they usually are this time of year, and point out that this summer conveniently coincides with the 40th anniversary of the release of “Jaws,” so there might be some media hysteria at play, ahem.
However, it’s true that the seven shark attacks along the North Carolina coast are more than the state has recorded in a single year since 2000.
What should you do if you are bitten by a shark?
When you see it coming, try to exit the water slowly, facing the shark, says shark expert Andrew P. Nosal. If you can’t escape, and it attacks you, fight back by grabbing the gills or striking the eyes.
Local beach patrol are warning folks who frequent New Jersey beaches that a rare (for them) and potentially deadly jellyfish is washing ashore.
Beachgoers began reporting what they first thought was very colorful beach trash. Upon closer inspection though, they realized the blobs were not plastic bags, but Portuguese man-of-war. The bright purple jellyfish sport tentacles that grow to about 6 feet in length but can extend outward up to 165 feet, and are extremely painful when they sting.
The New Jersey jellyfish appear to have washed up without its venomous tentacles. They can be deadly, but that's rare.
Experts say the jellyfish are washing ashore there because they are being carried north by the Gulfstream. The same creatures washed ashore there a year ago, DNA tests confirmed.
Thanks to the relatively high cost of living in the U.S., more and more retirees are opting to spend their golden years and hard-earned cash abroad. Currently, an estimated 3 million Baby Boomers plan to move overseas after retirement.
But where in the world is the perfect retirement haven? Each year, expat-focused magazine International Living seeks to answer that question by ranking the best countries for retirees.
The magazine pulls data from their network of correspondents and international organizations to rank countries by cost of living, healthcare, infrastructure and other factors.
The top 10 countries on their list cover a variety of regions around the globe. While most of the countries on the list remain fairly static over the years, the exact standings did get a bit of a shake-up this time around.
Once again, Central and South America dominate the rankings, accounting for nearly half of the top ten list.
Ecuador and Panama, the two top destinations, feature attractive discount packages to bolster their already low costs of living. Both nations are tourist-friendly, have excellent infrastructure, and boast a variety of entertainment and sightseeing options.
But if you'd rather spend your twilight years in Europe, it's still worth brushing up on your Spanish. Spain remains the top European retirement destination on the list, thanks to cheap prices, beautiful locales and a top-notch healthcare system.
Asia's look-in on the top 10 is mostly thanks to Malaysia and its robust economy, which allows expats to enjoy a high-quality lifestyle at a comparatively low price.
If you are planning to take advantage of these or any other retirement destinations, the U.S. State Department has a checklist to help anyone looking to retire overseas set their affairs at home in order first.
The full list of all 25 countries recommended by International Living can be found at their website.
This video includes images from Getty Images and music from Risey / CC BY NC 3.0.
Clark Howard is a nationally syndicated consumer advice expert
A May 2014 study from Consumer Reports has ranked sunscreens and found that you don't have to pay big bucks to protect your skin from harsh UV rays.Here's what so funny: The highest rated sunscreen that got a Best Buy recommendation turned out to be the cheapest one per ounce they tested!Want the best sunscreen for your money? Check out these options
Equate Ultra Protection Sunscreen SPF 50, which is a Walmart storebrand lotion, clinched the Best Buy trophy with a score of 80 from Consumer Reports. It costs only 56 cents an ounce, which represents a 9-cent increase in price since last year. Active ingredients include Avobenzone (3%), Homosalate (13%), Octisalate (5%), Octocrylene (7%), and Oxybenzone (4%). The only sunblock to score higher in the lotion category was Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50. This lotion got a score of 81 and costs $1.38. The active ingredient list mirrors that of Equate Ultra Protection Sunscreen SPF 50, with the exact same concentration of active ingredients.When it comes to sprays, longtime Consumer Reports favorite UP & UP Sport SPF 50 got a 90 -- a full 10 points higher than last year's showing for this Target housebrand. Amazingly, the cost per ounces has dropped to 80 cents, down from $1.16 last year! Active ingredients include Avobenzone (3%), Homosalate (10%), Octisalate (5%), Octocrylene (4%), and Oxybenzone (5%).
>> Special Section: Your Guide to Summer FunThe historical favorite in this annual tally has been NO-AD Sport SPF 50 with Avobenzone, Aloe, and Vitamin E SPF 45. The NO-AD lotion scored a 69 this time out -- up 20 points from last year. The cost per ounce is 63 cents. Active ingredients include Avobenzone (2.0%), Homosalate (15.0%), Octisalate (5.0%), and Oxybenzone (5.0%).I was talking with a dermatologist last week and she said the real problem is too many people apply sunscreen too sparsely. You need to put gobs of it on your kids. My kids are conditioned to know that it's a five-minute ordeal while we slather them up before they can go out into the sun. It's a necessary precaution. But don't forget yourself either.If you're like me and grew up in the generation when nobody wore sunscreen, we're a ticking time bomb for skin cancer and melanoma. In many cases, early skin cancer detected is just a little aggravation that's easily treated. But undetected, it can grow into melanoma and cost you your life.Whatever sunscreen you get, be sure it says "broad spectrum" on the label for maximum protection.Other Interesting Reads
It's Kentucky Derby weekend and that means breaking out the big hats, betting on the horses and ... paying up to $2,000 for a drink. Wait, what?
Ah, yes. The infamous mint julep. Just one of these puppies might empty out your wallet, though there is the cheaper option: it's only $1,000. (Via Kentucky Derby)
So what's the deal with the steep price? Well, for starters it's that cup. This year they feature a gold-plated medallion of a horse and a garland of roses. But like I said, that's just the beginning. (Via Twitter / Matthew Willinger)
Of course you have the basics fresh mint, crushed ice, Early Times Kentucky Whisky and the sweetener ... (Via SB Nation)
Master distiller Chris Morris says to get the sweet taste, "We have candied rose petals, actual rose petals that we’ve soaked in sugar water... It has the mint, but now it has the rose hint to it.” (Via USA Today)
"And then a golden sipping straw. There it is, it's part of the package.
That's an actual straw?
An actual gold sipping straw. There it is, with a gold dusted mint garnish."
Yes, a golden straw. So, do you think it's worth it? Well, apparently plenty of people do.
Every year about 120,000 of the cocktails are sold at Churchill Downs Racetrack. We'll leave that math up to you. (Via Kentucky Derby)
Now, not every mint julep at the derby is served in a golden cup with candied rose petals — there are affordable ones, too. The drink has actually been a staple among derbygoers since the races started in 1875. But the drink is much older — dating back about 200 years.
"Virginians started mixing the version drink around 1803 ... The concoction made its way to Kentucky, the home of bourbon, whiskey and Kentucky colonel mint." (Via Yahoo!)
The perfect mixture and the drink's popularity grew wildly. As far as the more expensive version — much of money raised reportedly goes to charity for aging horses.
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