There are six people in my family, so there's no question that food is a major line item in our vacation budget. Fortunately, by planning ahead, we've been able to cut our food expenses in half when we travel. Here are seven ways to stay on budget and still be able to eat while on vacation.
1. Fill a Suitcase with Food:
When we stay in hotels, I like to pack a suitcase full of food, like breakfast cereals, granola bars, juice boxes and cookies. I also pack Wet Ones, paper plates and plastic utensils. Even with a checked bag fee, we still end up on top over going out for breakfast and snacks.
2. Make Lunch the Biggest Meal of the Day:
If you can, eat lunch later in the afternoon. Not only will you avoid crowds, but by the time dinner comes around you can have a small snack or dessert and feel quite satisfied. You'll save money and feel better going to bed not quite so full.
3. Buy Coupon Booklets:
Every major city has an Entertainment Book
, and inside each one you'll find loads of high-value coupons for local restaurants. Order one online for the city you want to visit, and then look for more coupons at Entertainment.com
and on their mobile app
. Another one to check out for coupons is Enjoy the City
, which also has coupon booklets for multiple destinations.
4. Look for "Kids Eat Free" Mobile Apps:
There are several websites and mobile apps that will tell you which restaurants around you offer "kids eat free" deals and on which nights. The mobile apps often have GPS to help you find a restaurant just around the corner. Two free apps to check out are Kids Meal Deals
and Out to Eat with Kids
5. Ask for a Fridge:
If you're staying in a hotel, remember that not all rooms come with a refrigerator, so make sure to ask for one. This is ideal for saving milk for cereal or bottled waters to take with you as you tour around each day.
6. Hit Daily Deal Sites:
Once you know where you plan to go for vacation, sign up to receive daily emails from Groupon
and other daily deal sites that specialize in discounts on attractions and restaurants for that city. However, don't buy any vouchers unless you feel pretty confident you'll be able to use them or risk losing that money.
7. Book a Vacation Rental:
Now that there are six of us, I tend to prefer to secure a vacation rental from a site like HomeAway
, rather than book a hotel room. It's nice having a kitchen to store food and a vacation rental gives us more flexibility if we want to stay in and eat at home, which is also a huge cost-saver. Just be sure to have a checklist so you know how to stock up your family vacation rental
when you arrive.
Erin Gifford is Savings.com guest writer and a mother of four who shares family travel advice on her blog, Kidventurous, which was selected as the Best Family Travel blog by Parents magazine. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.