4 Simple Ways to Save Money on an Outer Banks Vacation

Rolling Sand Dunes Outer Banks NC

Situated right along the North Carolina coast is the Outer Banks, a chain of narrow barrier islands. The area is considered to be one of if not the best places in the United States for a family beach vacation.

Thanks to the area’s unmatched natural beauty and a plethora of fun and exciting activities, there is no shortage of people who frequent the OBX on an annual basis.

As a result of the barrier islands' popularity, lodging can be expensive during certain periods of the year – mainly during the summer months.

Fortunately, not everywhere you stay will be expensive. To help you save hundreds if not thousands of dollars, we’ve jotted down some cost-saving tips below.

With the money you save, we hope you’ll try the cuisine at one of the area’s many exceptional and locally-owned restaurants… or learn how to hang glide or surf!

Tip #1 – Sound Side Equals Savings

If you want to reserve a house for a week-long stay or mini-vacation, find one that’s located sound side in on one of the central beaches (Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, or Nags Head).

Not oceanfront; not sound front; and not ocean side either!

Everyone want’s to either be along the water or in very close proximity to the beach. As a result, rental rates at sound side homes are some of the lowest you’ll find on the Outer Banks. Kill Devil Hills has many different sound side homes to choose from, as does Kitty Hawk and Nags Head.

Tip #2 – Camping is a Great Option

So you may or may not be crazy about the idea of living in a tent for three to six consecutive days in a row, but we can assure you it’s not that bad!

Many of the campgrounds on the Outer Banks have bathhouses and electric hookups. Also, there’s pretty much always at least a light breeze (why do you think the Wright brothers choose Kitty Hawk!) and just a small fan in your tent can go a long way.

It doesn’t rain very often in the summertime either, so that’s a plus.

With campgrounds from Kill Devil Hills to Ocracoke Island, there are many places to choose from.

The nominal cost to spend a night at a campground is well below what you’d pay to stay in a hotel, condo or house.

If you need some further convincing on why camping on the Outer Banks is a terrific, cost-saving option, check out this post.

Tip #3 – Consider the Offseason

If you can, we recommend that you book your vacation during the offseason. The peak season for the Outer Banks is the summertime, and anything outside of June, July and August is considered the offseason.

This tip is difficult to follow if you have school-aged kids. Having your youngsters miss a week of learning to go on a family vacation is a tough choice to make. However, if you do decide that your kiddos can miss a week in the classroom, you can always visit the Wright Brother’s National Memorial or Fort Raleigh National Park to add some educational activities to your stay!

If you don’t have kids in grade school, then the decision is much easier!

If you are able to make it work, we HIGHLY recommend that you visit during the month of September or October. Here are some reasons why:

  • Atlantic Ocean water is still super warm and you likely won’t need to wear a wet suit.
  • Most locally-owned businesses are still open and ready to serve.
  • Occupancy levels are way below what they are during the summer, giving you more options at lower prices.
  • Public beach accesses and restaurants will not be crowded at all. This is a generality, some of the most exceptional restaurants like Kill Devil Grill and Tortugas' Lie may require you to wait for a table.
  • Saturday and Sunday traffic are much lighter, meaning you probably won’t have to wait to cross the bridge to Kitty Hawk.
  • Some great events occur during these two months, including the Outer Banks Seafood Festival and OBX Brewtag.

Tip #4 – Everything is Negotiable

See a price online for a rental home or condo that you think is too high? Try calling the rental company and making them an offer!

The person you speak with likely won’t be able to accept your offer immediately, they’ll likely have to call the homeowner first.

This tip can easily save you hundreds, all you, have to do is ask for a cheaper price! And don’t be timid, people can and negotiate cheaper rates all of the time.

If the homeowner won’t accept your offer, you can always try another home or try contacting a different vacation rental company.

When a home or condo doesn’t get rented, then the homeowner and rental company aren’t making any money. Accepting your offer is almost always a better option than allowing a property to go un-rented for a week.

So that about wraps it up! We hope these four simple tips will help you save money on your next Outer Banks getaway.