Back in 2014 we released a blog article on how to avoid the traffic on you drive to the Outer Banks. After seeing how many people that article helped and reading everyone’s responses and tips, we’ve decided to update it. Anyone who has driven to the Outer Banks on a Saturday knows how bad the traffic can be during peak season. We’ve had reports saying the traffic was backed up 20 miles behind the Wright Memorial Bridge.
Summer’s approaching faster than you think and you know what that means; Long hot days at the beach! If you’re like me then you can barley contain your excitement when you think about being under the warm sun while listening to the sound of the waves roll onto the beach. I try to make the most out of my days at the beach. I clear my whole schedule and plan on staying from late morning until the evening. Long beach days like this take a lot out of you and many people couldn’t imagine staying that long. But for all the people that love beach days as much as I do here is how to survive a long day on the beach!
No one has the same vision for the perfect vacation. Some may picture peace, quiet, and seclusion while others may picture plenty of activities close by. Regardless of what your ideal vacation looks like the Outer Banks has the perfect fit for everyone.
1. Set challenges
It is important to set goals, or challenges, for yourself before your vacation begins. Often when people set a challenge for themselves they are more inclined to stick to it. For instance, maybe make 100 pushups a day challenge. This would mean that you make sure to complete 100 pushups before the day is over. You can do sets of 10 or 20 throughout the entire day to make it easier. Feel free to lower the number if 100 a day is too difficult, but make sure it still challenges you. This will keep you active and keep your body in fat burning mode throughout your vacation.
2. Portion Sizes
Have you noticed the portions most restaurants give these days? Oftentimes, there is easily enough food for two people. If you have someone that is willing to share a meal with you then you will not only save calories, you will save money as well. If no one is willing to share with you that doesn’t mean you have to stuff yourself and eat the entire plate. Eat half of your plate and save the other half as a meal for later. Maybe you’re eating in at your vacation rental and everyone is indulging in fattening foods such as pizza or ice cream. Why should you have to skip out on the delicious food when no one else is? It’s all about the portion sizes. Instead of having 3 slices of pizza cut it back to 2 slices or even 1 and a half slices. More times than not that will be plenty of pizza to fill you up and still feel good afterward. The same goes for ice cream. Don’t eat an entire bowl just have a good scoop. One scoop of ice cream may not seem like enough, but it should be plenty to satisfy your sweet tooth. Pro tip: Take smaller bites. This will trick your brain into thinking you are eating more since it will last longer.
3. Choose Menu Options Wisely
Trying to keep the weight off on vacation doesn’t mean you can’t partake in eating out at delicious local restaurants with everyone else. Don’t jump to a conclusion on the first thing you see that sounds good on the menu. Often there are many healthy menu items that are just as, if not more, delicious than the indulgent options. Pick your meal wisely and enjoy every bite of it. Instead of getting that plate of nachos smothered in cheese try some fresh local fish with coconut rice or another lean option.
4. Eat In
Outer Banks house rentals include fully equipped kitchens that make cooking in a breeze. Make eating in fun! Choose themes for every meal: Mexican, Chinese, grilling, seafood, vegetarian, etc., then research new recipes to try. Let every person/group choose a meal, so the entire group gets involved.
5. Include Super Foods
Anyone who has driven to the Outer Banks on a Saturday knows how bad the traffic can be during peak season. Every year we hear reports saying the traffic was backed up 20 miles behind the Wright Memorial Bridge.
Everyone knows where the problem is. It’s the intersection in Kitty Hawk that takes you north onto highway 12 into Southern Shores. Traffic there bottlenecks and can add anywhere from 2 to 5 hours to your driving time. For guests who are staying south of this intersection there is a better way. If you’re staying in Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, or Nags Head with Outer Banks Blue here we have some time saving tips for you. During the peak vacation season, do not come across the Wright Memorial Bridge to get to the Outer Banks over the Wright Memorial Bridge during peak vacation season!
As most veteran vacationers to the Outer Banks know, traveling to the Outer Banks from the north and driving across the bridge will add around 3 hours to your driving time due to traffic. Google maps may say the stretch from Richmond to Kill Devil Hills, the middle ground for our Kitty Hawk to Nags Head guests, will take you 2 hours and 57 minutes but in reality it will take you 5 to 7 hours.
Those of you who usually drive by, or near Richmond and then take Highway 64 to Chesapeake, instead take Richmond, VA to Edenton, NC. Yes Google maps will say the drive is 4 hours, which is 1 hour and 3 minutes longer, but when you consider the traffic it is actually a time saver. Most who are trying to arrive on the Outer Banks by crossing the Wright Memorial Bridge are averaging a 6 hours drive from Richmond to Kill Devil Hills, but if you take the Edenton route you may cut as much as 2 hours off your drive. You may still encounter some traffic once your arrive on the Outer Banks, but as everyone knows the traffic south of the Kitty Hawk-Southern Shores traffic light is rather light by comparison.
Not only is this route a time saver but it is also full of smaller roads through the countryside which may be a nice change of scenery from your average drive down the interstate.
Another alternative to these routes is to take I-95 South to US-64 East by Rocky Mount, NC. This path shows on Google Maps as being 16 minutes longer than the Edenton route, but it is mostly freeway and has a lot more gas stations and food to stop at along the way.
Even those of you who must travel through Chesapeake, due to where you live, can take advantage of this tip when coming to the Outer Banks on a Saturday during peak season. The problem where traffic occurs typically begins somewhere between the Virginia-North Carolina state line and Highway 158-Highway 168 intersection. With there being an additional hour and 14 minutes to go the Edenton route you will still save time when considering traffic.
A big tip to beat a lot of traffic is what day you check in on. Typically, most people vacationing on the Outer Banks choose to rent from Saturday to Saturday. If you switch up your check in day to a Friday or Sunday Check in traffic will be much less.
If you are crossing the Wright Memorial Bridge no later than 9:00 am then you are usually in the clear. Most days traffic doesn’t tend to get congested until around 10 am. I know 9:00 am sounds early, especially if your rental won’t be ready until 4:00 pm, but it’s more enjoyable to find something to do on the Outer Banks rather than sit in traffic for hours.
If you arrive to the Outer Banks before your Outer Banks vacation rental is ready try grabbing a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants. The beach is full of great local cuisine that we recommend everyone try (Top 8 Favorite Place To Get Breakfast on the Outer Banks). One of the best early arrival tips we can give you is to plan like you will arrive early. Pack swim suits and beach chairs to be easily accessible. If there is still time to kill until you can check into your rental you will be able to get to the beach gear easily and have a beach day until you can unpack the rest of your luggage.
We hope these tips can help you on your next trip to the Outer Banks. If you have any tips that we’ve left out we would love to hear them in the comments!
#1 Morning Jog on the Beach
There is nothing more motivating than seeing the sunrise over the ocean while hearing the peaceful sound of the waves slapping the shore. Instead of sitting on the deck of your vacation rental watching the sunrise take this opportunity to go for a peaceful morning jog on the beach.
#2 Take a Bike Ride
Riding a bike may seem simple and not compare to your usual work out regiment, but it has actually provided all of us great exercise since we were kids.
#3 Swim a Few Laps
We all love getting in the ocean to floating around, doggy paddling with the kids, or laying out in a float on a calm day. Next time you decide to jump in the ocean to cool off try swimming. Swimming is often overlooked as exercise but it causes you to engage your whole body in a good work out.
#4 Go Surfing
Surfing is not only an amazing full body work out, but it’s also a lot of fun. If you don’t know how to surf there are plenty of training camps on the Outer Banks. This may be the perfect time for you to learn!
#5 Paddle Board
Paddle boarding is a great upper body work out. You are constantly engaging your upper body while getting to enjoy the peacefulness of being out on the ocean relaxing.
Whether you choose to go ocean kayaking or go kayaking in the sound, it is sure to be a fun and relaxing way to keep in shape on your Outer Banks vacation. We recommend looking at places such as Kitty Hawk Kites for great kayak tours.
#7 Beach Yoga
If you are someone that like to really take it easy and relax then beach yoga is perfect for you! Break out the yoga mat under a beautiful sunrise on the beach to get a blissful exercise.
Plan an excursion! This will be sure to be a fun activity for the whole family. Nags Head Woods has some great trails and beautiful scenery to complete the perfect family excursion.
#9 Throw a Frisbee
We all know it and most of us love it. Throwing a Frisbee is not a new beach activity but it will continue to be fun beach exercise. Your core, arms, and legs all get worked out while you have a blast with the kids.
#10 Portion Sizes
Less Crowded and Less Traffic
There’s nothing like spending a week relaxing on the beach in the Outer Banks. Walking on the beach with the sand between your toes and the sound of the waves crashing will put anyone in a tranquil state of mind.
For some trying to find a spot among everyone else enjoying the beach can get a little frustrating. It’s no secret that the Outer Banks tends to get crowded in the summer. If you seem to enjoy sitting two to five feet from strangers on the beach then summer is perfect for you, but if having almost the entire beach to yourself sounds relaxing then you may want to consider visiting in the off-season. Although it may be too cold to lay out in the winter the Outer Banks gets quite warm during the fall and spring. In April, May, September, and October you can expect to see temperatures anywhere from the 70’s to 80’s. This may not be the same as a nice hot summer day that can get over 100 degrees, with the heat index, but it’s nice enough to relax in a bathing suit without breaking a sweat.
Not only are the beaches less crowded in the off-season there is also almost no traffic. If you are coming to stay on the Outer Banks during the summer you can expect to sit in traffic for hours while arriving on Saturday. If you time your vacation right and cross the bridge very early in the morning you may be able to beat the traffic, but it’s still a gamble. During the off-season you’ll also notice it will be easier to get from place to place with little to no traffic to compete with. Think of going to a restaurant and being able to be sat almost right away.
Although the Outer Banks is beautiful in the summer, there is a lot of beautiful scenery during the off-season.
Fall is an obvious season that has beautiful scenery virtually anywhere. There is no other month like October for sunrises and sunsets on the Outer Banks. Imagine waking up to a breathtaking sunrise over the beach with the calming sound of waves rolling onto the shore. The morning sky becomes painted with beautiful hues of magenta and purple while the sun rises above the ocean to warm the sand. It’s not every day that the east coast gets to see a sunset over the ocean. In October we tend to see amazing sunsets from the beach. The clouds become purple with a beautiful glow of yellow and pink along the horizon. The beach is relaxing enough on its own, but imagine lying on the sand under a picture perfect sky that looks like a painting. The sound of the ocean and the gentle breeze of the wind will cause you to slip away into a state of relaxation and peace that you didn’t know was possible.
Most people’s ideal Outer Banks vacation is not usually in the winter. Oftentimes people think of the negatives; it’s too cold for the beach, the grass and plants are dead, it’s too cold to sit outside. We agree that those are disappointing, but there are also positives to visiting the Outer Banks in the winter. Although the grass and most plants may be dead there is still a lot of beautiful scenery. Have you ever seen the beach covered in snow? It’s very beautiful and a must see in our opinion. In fact two years ago was a sight to see when the entire sound froze over! The winter can be a very romantic time with your loved one. It’s perfect to take a nice long walk on the beach and come back to the house to sit in front of the fireplace. The hot tubs that normally get neglected in the summer (because it’s so hot out) can get put to good use. Picture yourself sitting in the hot tub relaxing while listening to the sound of snow gently falling around you.
Everyone knows that spring is a beautiful time of the year. Just as the weather starts to turn nice and warm again, the flowers start to bloom and the birds begin to chirp. The Outer Banks usually sees some of its vacationers making their way back to their favorite vacation destination. In the spring you can truly sit back and enjoy the sounds of nature without it being interrupted by tons of other vacationers. You can comfortably layout on the beach in a bathing suit and enjoy your favorite book with no distractions. Spring is also a perfect time to take walks with a loved one. Picture yourself taking a peaceful walk with the aroma of numerous plants and flowers blooming right beside you. The vibrant colors, warm air, and pleasant smells will be sure to put you in a state of bliss.
The majority of vacationers know just how expensive a week stay in the Outer Banks can be. By the time you find the perfect home in the perfect location it is not uncommon for the cost to be $5,000 or more. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day rental prices are always raised due to it being the peak vacation season. The offseason provides a more affordable option. There are times where a property that costs $13,500 a week drops to as little as $3,000!
If you are someone that has vacationed in the Outer Banks before but wishes it wasn’t so crowed, busy, and expensive, then the off season may be the perfect time for you and your family to take a vacation!