When you’re traveling on a budget, food expenses can quickly destroy all your carefully planned savings. From trying out the best local restaurants to splurging on snacks and drinks on the road, food costs while on vacation add up and can take a big bite out of your budget. Lucky for you, though, paying for your eats when you’re away doesn’t have to cost a ton of money. Here are six ways to save on vacation food costs.
- Research local eatery options
When your stomach is grumbling and you’re desperate for a delicious, hot meal, you likely won’t have the willpower to make the best choices about where to go for dinner. Instead, if you plan on dining out while on vacation, research your options before you head out on your trip. This way, you can look up local eateries from the comfort of your home, and compare prices and ratings so you can make the best decisions for your vacation and your budget. Don’t forget to look up possible coupons on sites like Groupon and to check for possible deals the restaurants may offer at certain times of the day, or on specific days of the week.
- Pack snacks and drinks
Those frequent rest stops to grab a bag of chips, some beef jerky and a cold drink to keep you going can eat up more of your vacation budget than you may realize. A little pre-planning, though, can go a long way. Stock up on non-perishable snacks like granola bars, trail mix, crackers and dried fruit for on-the-go snacking that’ll last throughout your vacation. You can also buy your beverages now and stick them in an ice-filled cooler for a chilled drink whenever you’d like it while you’re on vacation. Buying these items in your own town instead of on the road is more convenient and will cost significantly less money for the same exact products. That’s called planning ahead!
- Cook while on vacation
If you’ll be staying at your vacation destination for a while and/or if the area only has expensive eateries, consider booking a rental or apartment that comes equipped with kitchen facilities. During your trip, pick up fresh ingredients at local grocery stores or farmers’ markets and whip up your favorite dishes. If the thought of cooking while vacationing makes you rethink the entire trip, you can also prep several meals at home and just reheat them while on vacation. This option is particularly beneficial for families or larger groups, as it reduces the need for dining out every day.
- Explore the local street food
Get a real feel for the place you’re visiting and save on food costs by taking advantage of the nearby street food options. These tend to be a lot cheaper than dine-in eateries, and usually feature local cuisine that’s made fresh while you wait. You can enjoy iconic soft pretzels in New York City, sizzling hot gyros on the streets of Athens, authentic tacos in Cancun, fresh croissants in Paris and so much more!
- Share meals
When you dine out during your vacation, consider sharing meals with your travel companions. Sharing will allow you to sample a variety of dishes while reducing individual costs. Don’t hesitate to ask the waiter for portion sizes or recommendations for sharing options.
Alcoholic drinks can be the biggest expense of a restaurant meal. Check local regulations and policies, but if allowed, bring your own bottle of wine or other beverages to restaurants that offer corkage fees. This way, you can enjoy your favorite drinks without the hefty markup on alcohol prices.
Food costs don’t have to eat away at your vacation budget. Use the tips outlined here to save on food costs while on vacation.
Your Turn: What’s your favorite vacation food cost hack? Tell us about it in the comments!