The Shore Blog

All about the South Jersey Shore from Ocean City to Cape May

14 Ways to Get Your Beach Fix (the Quarantine Way) #2 Plan Your Next Trip

14 Ways to Get Your Beach Fix (the Quarantine Way) #2 Plan Your Next Trip

While everyone was focused on staying healthy this week, Spring 2020 snuck up on us. Spring is normally the time of year when the South Jersey shore starts to come alive. Shore towns host spring-themed events. Shop owners open their doors to share their new merchandise. Warmer temps and longer days prompt people to dust off their beach chairs and head to the shore.

But it may not feel like spring right now to many of us who are stuck inside, riding out this wave of uncertainty. Things like social distancing, a tumbling economy, kids being pent up at home and not knowing where we’ll get our next roll of toilet paper is stressful, to say the least. However, the uncertainty of when life will return to normal is perhaps the scariest part of it all. It’s times like these where we want to escape to our happy places, but that just isn’t possible for most of us right now.

Or is it?

A 2010 study on the effect of vacations on our happiness levels found that people are often most happiest prior to their vacation. In other words, planning a trip can make you happier than actually taking it. But why is that?

When engaging in a pleasurable activity, our brains release a neurotransmitter called dopamine. However, mere anticipation of the pleasurable activity tricks our brains into thinking we’re actually doing it. And this alone is enough to raise dopamine levels. But why isn’t the vacation itself the most pleasurable part?

According to the study, we tend to envision ourselves living out our vacation as we’re planning it. In our visions we are having a perfectly marvelous time. That is because we tend to picture vacations without any of the typical stressors. We don’t envision the Saturday morning traffic on the GSP, 3 hour wait times at our favorite restaurants or having to make a trip to the ER after a case of sun poisoning. We don’t consider the possibility of 4 day stretches of pure rain, or the likelihood of going for a dip and having to dodge seaweed one day and jelly fish the next. Instead, we envision a sunny, flawless, jelly fish- and sunburn-free vacation.

And that, my friends, is why trip planning can make us happier than actually going on the vacation itself. Because we’re not dealing with all that stuff that inevitably happens on a vacation.

So, using this knowledge, let’s get planning for the next shore trip! This is more important now, than ever, as news of the closing of the Ocean City Boardwalk and beach is spreading. Here are our suggestions on what you can do to get a jump on your vacation planning.

1. Decide where you’ll go

Most of us have our favorite beach towns, and if you do, you can sail right through this one. But if you’re looking to check out a new town, The Shore Blog has done all the work for you. Click on the town names below to learn everything there is to know, from important info about the town, history, beach information, where to stay, where to eat and things to do.

2. Decide when you’ll go

Now is a good time to take a look at your calendar and decide when you’ll want to go down the shore. Are you looking for a day trip? A weekend? Or are you looking to go for longer, such as a week or more? Does your family have a special event this year that would warrant a seaside family reunion? Many of us will go down the shore multiple times throughout the summer and fall. That is because there are endless activities, events, festivals and themed weekends going on all year long. Perhaps as you look at your own calendar, you can also look at the towns’ events calendars to see what interests you.

For instance, no beach tags are required in Sea Isle on Wednesdays. If you’re looking to score a little beach time without having to purchase beach tags, Wednesdays may be best for a day trip. Want the same deal but can’t go on a Wednesday? Then maybe Strathmere or Wildwood are the best destinations for you, since they don’t ever require beach tags.A weekend trip may be best if you’re looking to participate in festivals or events, as most occur on weekends. Looking for a laid-back, less crowded beach experience? Heading down after school starts in the fall will not only give you that vibe, but also you’ll find lower hotel rates.

Either way, not you have the time to consider all your options to see what works best for you. Check out our listing of Things to Do to get an idea of all that’s going on down the shore (for individual towns, click the links above).

3. Purchase discounted beach tags

Did you know that you can purchase discounted seasonal beach tags prior to the beginning of the season? That’s right – if you purchase them now, you can save up to $5 per seasonal tag. And, you can even purchase them from your own phone using the Viply App. Not all towns offer this, but most offer mail-in orders. Not only can you buy ahead and save money for your own vacation, but beach tags make great gifts for anyone who is planning a trip to the shore this summer.

Click on the following links for each town’s beach tag information: Avalon, Cape May, Ocean City, Sea Isle City, Stone Harbor and Townsends Inlet. (As noted above, Strathmere and Wildwood do not require beach tags).

To get the Viply app, click here.

4. Plan and pay for your experiences now

There are many things to do at the shore. Want to climb a lighthouse? Take a boat tour? Rent a kayak? You don’t have to wait to make your plans. You can go online and pay for these experiences now and then enjoy them later. That way, you can spread out the costs of your vacation, and give you specific activities to look forward to. Here is a list of some options:

Climb the Cape May Lighthouse – The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities (MAC) operates and maintains the Cape May Lighthouse. MAC had many events planned for this spring. These events enable the organization to raise funds for the upkeep of their operations, programming, the lighthouse and more. However, they have been forced to cancel these events due to Covid-19. To help them sustain operations during this uncertain time, they are offering tickets to climb the lighthouse for sale. These tickets will never expire, and purchasing them now is a great way to pre-plan and pre-pay for your vacation entertainment. It will allow you to diffuse the costs normally accrued during your actual vacation. They also make a great gift for lighthouse lovers. Click here to purchase these tickets.

Rent a Kayak or Paddleboard Harbor Outfitters offers gift cards for future watersports experiences. They have locations in Ocean City, Sea Isle and Stone Harbor.

Plan a night out – Many shore restaurants offer gift cards, so why not buy a one now to enjoy at your favorite restaurant later? Give it as a gift to someone who is traveling to the shore this summer, or use it for your own vacation. Spreading out the costs of vacation makes the time you’re there less stressful. Some restaurants that offer gift cards are: Congress Hall (good for all restaurants,, spa and merchandise); Beachwood (Townsends Inlet); 2 Mile Landing (Wildwood). These are just some examples.

Don’t let our short list here stunt your creativity. Google your favorite businesses, check out their website or call them to see if they offer gift cards or pre-paid experiences. It’s a win-win for both of you!

5. Shop for your vacation now

Now is a great time to shop online for the products you will want for your vacation. Looking for new beach gear, eco-friendly beach products or the perfect beach-themed Easter gift ? Many of your favorite shore shops have online stores where you can purchase what you need. And the best part is that you can support them at this time when normally they’d be opening their doors to customers. We’re working on putting together a list of shore stores with online shopping options. Stay tuned and follow this blog to get this updated list as soon as we have it available.

Another option is to spend some time researching the products you may want to purchase for the summer that you can’t find at the shore. Learn about the newest beach products and what the hottest beach games are.

6. Find out what’s new

Every year, your favorite beach towns and business owners spend their winters planning for the upcoming summer season. Retailers visit trade shows to find new, unique merchandise for their shops. Restaurantaurs try out new recipes and update their menus. Shore towns plan events and weekly activities to dazzle their guests.

Now is the perfect time to find out what’s new at the shore. Read online resources like The Shore Blog for info on what’s being planned. Sign up to receive shore town newsletters. And be sure to spread the love. Reach out to your favorite business owners and let them know how much you miss them. Like and follow them on social media. Remember that they are losing out on the pre-season game so now is the time to support them in any way you can.

7. Enjoy the journey

Set aside a special time to do your trip planning, like after the kids are asleep. Pour a glass of wine and let the dopamine flow. While you’re doing your planning, you can enhance your experience by tuning in to the live beach cams we provided in our previous article. Put on your favorite beach tunes. And don’t forget to go back in time and look at photos from your last shore trip. Doing so will remind you of the great times you’ve had, and the fun that’s waiting for you this summer. It will help you figure out where you want to dine, what you want to do and what are the best memories you’d like to recreate. Then post those memories on Instagram, send them to family members, or even use an online printing service to order prints. Find a beachy frame and voila – you have a great gift for someone who may need a dose of sunshine and nostalgia just about now.

Stay tuned for our article tomorrow on “14 Ways to Get Your Beach Fix (the Quarantine Way) when we show you How to Bring the Beach to Your Own Backyard.

Let us know what you think!