Eating Well on a Budget While You’re Traveling

admin / May 19, 2010

Maybe you have big travel plans this summer or just planning a few days out and about seeing local sites. Either way traveling away from home and eating out can put a dent in your budget. However, with a little preplanning, you can save money and still eat well.

A Room with a Kitchen
More hotels have rooms with kitchens and they’re a smart choice. Eat half your meals in the room instead of eating out and you’ll save a ton of money. If you can’t find a hotel room with a kitchen, ask if any of the rooms have at least a fridge or microwave. If the price of the room doesn’t come with a free breakfast, stock up on things like milk, cereal, bread for toast and you can save money by eating breakfast in your hotel room.

Take It on the Road
One way you can save money while you’re traveling (and avoid the fast food drive through) is to pack a lunch before you head out for the day. If you’re traveling by car, it’s easy enough to put a cooler in with the rest of the luggage. If you’re going by air, stop by a local supermarket or drugstore when you get to your destination and pick up a Styrofoam cooler. They cost around $3-4 so it’s no big deal to just leave them behind when the vacation is over.

Amusement Parks
I know children look forward to eating food at the amusement park vendors, but sometimes the prices are double. One way you can save and still keep the children happy is to take your own packed lunch and then stop by one of the vendors for dessert.

Bed and Breakfast
Lots of hotels/motels now include a free breakfast in with the price of the room. And they’re no longer just coffee and a sweet roll. The last one we stayed at had hot dishes, cereals and make your own waffles so we were never tempted to go anywhere else for breakfast.

Supermarkets
Find a supermarket and stock up on items like crackers, fruit, cold cuts, string cheese, etc. so you can take them out and about with you. And if you have the kitchen back at the hotel room, buy some groceries just like you would at home and eat in a couple of times.

Early Bird Specials
Just about every town has restaurants that offer early bird specials. It’s a way for them to attract customers when business gets slow, and a great way for you to save. Most of the meals and portion sizes will be exactly the same, but you can sometimes save up to $5 a meal by eating between 4-6 p.m. And when you’re on vacation eating earlier frees up the rest of the day for more sightseeing.

Ask the Locals
If you want to know where all the good deals are, ask the locals. And ask the hotel’s front desk personnel for advice on cheap places to eat. And don’t forget to stop by the tourist office and ask if they have any coupon books or can recommend great deals.

Those Entertainment Books Again
Remember the Entertainment books I told you about last week? There’s one for just about every city now. Buy one before you leave. Okay, you won’t be able to use every coupon in the book during your stay but for the investment you get coupons for the very things you need like discounts to restaurants and local attractions.

Stick With The Chains
Most areas also have the same restaurant chains you’ll find at home, TGI Fridays, Olive Garden and many run specials. Plus, you can clip coupons at home and take them on the road with you.

Happy Hour
Most hotel chains and restaurants now offer Happy Hours and it’s not just about chips, dips and half price drinks any more. Many slash 50% off the price of appetizers and some entrees if you’re willing to sit in the bar.