Travel Dining: Saving Money on Meals on the Go


While holiday travel is a requisite for many, without some careful planning meals-on-the-go can come to costly expenditures. Stopping when our stomachs are growling and all thoughts of a budget have been replaced by hunger pangs can prove painfully expensive when the waitress hands over the bill or the tally at the drive-up window is barked out of a speaker.

Mapping out meals-on-the-go is a lot like planning a menu, with a bit of research one is sure to save money and enjoy the food a whole lot more because one’s budget remains intact once the remnant crumbs have been wiped away. Forgo Fast Food

While fast food may seem to expedite the process of alleviating gnawing pains of hunger, it will not ultimately prove budget-friendly. Fast food tabs quickly add up, just like the calories you will incur by eating them. Super-size that meal and you are looking at the same cost as eating at a local establishment and getting a healthier alternative.

The Lure of the Local

Local establishments not only offer fare you might not find elsewhere, they tend to be less pricey than the trendy chains that dot the map. Stopping in at a “Mom and Pop” restaurant can prove not only a budget-friendly choice, but it will also offer a quaint respite amidst what otherwise might prove to be a rather dull trip along the highways and byways filled with holiday traffic.

Kids Eat Free

If your kids are all about eating at their favorite chain restaurant while you are making your holiday trip, check out some deals before getting behind the wheel of your car. Many restaurants will offer “kids eat free” incentives if you dine before a specific time. There are those restaurants that offer by one meal and get a second half off or free. Knowing these money saving offerings before you set out will help you keep your kids and your pocketbook full and happy.

You Decide

Unbelievable but true, there are some restaurants appearing across the nation, and internationally, that serve up supper without an actual bill. The policy at these these priceless places is that the patron pays what they choose the meal is worth. Some have a collection plate, others offer a bin where money can be stowed within without anyone the wiser of what you deemed the meal worth. Try and find them, they are well worth a traverse off your well-planned trail.

Pack It Up

Pack a cooler for an inexpensive meal on a road trip. Instead of slathering two slices of bread with PB&J, choose something you would not ordinarily have. This way you will feel like your meal is a treat instead of simply another way to conserve money, taking the fun out of hitting the open road. Pack some interesting drinks and snacks to avert paying what can often be exorbitant costs charged by convenience stores that accompany fuel pumps. While paying your fuel tab, you can end up spending more on pre-packaged and calorie rich foods than you did at the pump.

If you are not willing to stow a cooler filled with a few goodies for a roadside meal, take some time to read the reviews of restaurants before you head out for your destination. Tour books and the internet offer reviews of restaurants and the food they offer. Plan where you have your meals as carefully as you watch your GPS and you will be assured to save some cool cash this winter.

How do you save money on food costs when traveling?  Add your two cents in the comments.

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  1. ChuckG

    3 years ago

    Pack a meal is great even if driving all around town for shopping. Beats mall food.

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