Saving money and the Winter Equestrian Festival don’t exactly go hand in hand. Frankly, pinching pennies and being involved with horses at all aren’t compatible in the slightest. And, as the saying goes, ‘The way to get one million dollars in the horse world is to start with two’.

While WEF isn’t exactly easy on the checkbook, it is possible to save a little bit here and there. Sure, you could wear blinders or avoid Vendor Village altogether if you were so inclined, but that wouldn’t be much fun. Here are three practical ways to keep costs down in the equestrian promise land—also known as Wellington.

1. Pack a lunch

Horse show food ain’t cheap, so take a trip to the local Publix (there are two within five minutes of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center) and stock up on the essentials: bread, peanut butter, jelly, and granola bars. If you have a cooler or a mini-fridge in your setup at the show, consider deli meats, veggies, hummus, or even pre-packaged salads. Sure, it takes a bit of planning ahead, but making like a fifth-grader and packing a lunch is cheaper and healthier than buying food at the show.

2. Purchase a high-quality, reusable water bottle

It may seem ridiculous to spend money to save money, but investing in a good water bottle pays in the long run.  I recommend the S’well bottles, which are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors and keep beverages cold for 24 hours and hot for 12.  Fill it with coffee or tea in the morning, then refill with water throughout the day. You won’t get dehydrated in the Florida heat and you’ll be friendlier to the environment by avoiding plastic bottles.

3. Stay with family or friends

Almost everyone I know has at least one retired family member living in south Florida. Their guest bedroom is probably covered with useless, decorative pillows and the bathroom might only have one-ply toilet paper, but nothing rivals an over-bearing yet well-intentioned relative’s love. Sure, they might keep the air conditioning set at 77 degrees, and yes, they might eat dinner at 4:30, but those are small sacrifices one must make when receiving free housing.

On the off chance that you don’t known anyone living within a 50-mile radius, use AirBnb or VRBO to find a room or house to rent. Facebook is also a great resource; I’m a member of several Wellington “classifieds” groups, and people often post there when looking for housing or when offering a rental.

Happy saving!

Photos by Kate Kosnoff