Frugal Travel Tips: 12 Tips To Save on Food While Traveling

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We have been planning our vacation for this October for a few months now and with a tight budget I have been keeping a list of ideas to help our family save while eating out on vacation. Most people spend $1000’s of dollars on vacation with nothing to show for it. There are many travel expenses that can be reduced and even eliminated with a little planning- food being one of the biggest expenses! Here are some tips we use while on vacation to save on our food budget:

  • Sign Up for Deal Alerts– A few weeks before you head out, do a little research and find local restaurants near  where you are staying. Restaurants are always sending coupons via email to entice you to stop by their place. Coupons for FREE appetizers, FREE desserts and even $$ off coupons.
  • Kids Eat FREE Nights- While you are signing up for the deal alerts above, check out if there are restaurants in the area that offer Kids Eat FREE Nights. Some locations may even let you combine a Kids eat FREE Night with a FREE appetizer coupon, making for one very inexpensive night out!
  • Make a Menu Plan- If you are like me you are already planning meals for your family each week, vacations shouldn’t be any different. Check the stores in the area where you plan to stay and see what they have on sale and plan your meal in accordance. Create a shopping list and take your coupons- this may be a bit of a hassle to have to go to the grocery while on vacation but it will help you save in the long run. Combine sales from the grocery with Kids Eat FREE Nights and restaurant coupons to make the most of your food budget.
  • Purchase a Entertainment Books or Online Restaurant Vouchers- Buying an Entertainment Book or Restaurant vouchers from places like Groupon or Living Social near your destination can help you save 50% to 70% off regular price.
  • Meal Plans at Hotels or Attraction- Check with your hotel or local attractions to see if they offer any meal deals. Some places offer FREE or discounted meals just for booking your hotel stay or purchasing attraction tickets.
  • Pack a Cooler- We plan to drive to our destination so having a cooler for our road trip is a must. But it goes further than that. We keep our cooler in the car during our entire vacation. This way we always have cold drinks and snacks available, no stopping at the closest convenience store or a fast food joint to grab a quick snack. Why pay $2-$3 for a drink when we have a stockpile of drinks that I picked up for less than a $1.
  • Continental Breakfast- Before you book that hotel, see if they offer a FREE continental breakfast. With our family of 5 we can easily spend $25-$35 eating breakfast, multiply that by 7 days and we could drop $245 just to eat breakfast.
  • Find Buffets- Although some buffet prices may not be the least expensive, it will be the best bang for your buck. All you can eat for a set price is great for those finicky eaters, giving them a whole bunch of choices, as well as for those kiddos that seem to have a bottomless pit. Our oldest daughter is fairly thin and you would think she never eats. But there are days that she out eats me and is a close competitor with my hubby and she is only 11! This is a great way to let her eat til she is completely busting at the seams!!!
  • Bring Your Own Appliances- If you are a coffee drinker bring your coffee maker. Want to have a home cooked meal without the kitchen, bring a crock-pot. There are many appliances that you can bring to help save while on vacation.
  • Ask for A Mini Fridge and an Ice Machine– Make sure when you book your hotel, you ask to get a mini fridge and make sure they have an ice machine. Keeping milk for breakfast, lunch meats for quick sandwiches or yogurts for a snack will save you quite a bit with a mini fridge. We keep the cooler full of ice and drinks, so getting a hotel with an ice machine will keep you from buying bags of ice, which can get quite expensive.
  • Ask Your Hotel for a Travel Guide– In the past we have received several travel guides that were filled with coupons and specials for area attractions and restaurants.
  • Skip The Convenience Stores & Rest Stop for Food– The food and drinks at these places are expensive and if you are driving to your destination, just pack those items that you have in your stockpile in the car. Why pay $1.50 for a Gatorade when you picked them up at a Kroger sale for .50!

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