Food costs are an extremely unpredictable element of a vacation. It is also one that most travelers tend to forget while planning their holiday. This does not mean that you have to pack up snack bars or eat only fast food. There can be many ways and budget foods when traveling to cut down the food costs. The following tips can help you eat on a budget while traveling and save with vacation meals on a budget and still make the most out of your holiday money.
You can even check the below slides to get a quick idea about the kind of savings we are talking about:
- 1 Planning: A Key Aspect Of Food Budget
- 2 Be Selective: Calculate Dine-Out Meals
- 3 Local Reviews: Find A Steal Budget Eatery
- 4 Flexibility: Eat Out When Others Don’t
- 5 Sharing is Caring: Order For The Table
- 6 Cheap Doggy Bags: Save It For Your Next Meal
- 7 Coupons and Deals: Save Big, Free Lunch, Discounts!
- 8 Go Cheap for Breakfast: Cook Easy & Scrumptious Meals
- 9 Dine-in: Costs A Fraction, Double The Fun
- 10 Say No to Drinks or BYOB: Save Big On Alcohol
- 11 Pack a Snack: Avoid Exorbitant Tourist Pricing
- 12 Read the Fine Print: Incorporate Hidden Expenses to eat on a budget while traveling
- 13 How to Achieve Vacation Meals on a Budget?
Planning: A Key Aspect Of Food Budget
Never underestimate the power of planning and budgeting. Of course, this does not mean that you write down the amount that you are going to spend on each meal but, have an idea of your daily (and overall) food budget.
You can begin by thinking of the famous cuisine or food items of the places you are visiting and how often you would want to indulge in them. Or you may list down a few budget foods when traveling solo.
All of this information can be easily found on the websites of popular restaurants in that specific area. It is much easier to find vacation meals on a budget if you plan ahead.
Be Selective: Calculate Dine-Out Meals
When you are traveling and staying in a vacation home, be selective of how many times you dine out. Meals in a restaurant can be pricey compared to making your own food. So, if you are planning to eat out at a fine dining place, then eat on the day before and the day after.
The prices can go up if you are traveling with your family. Therefore, pick and choose the meal of the day that you want to eat out and do a takeaway or dine in at other times.
Local Reviews: Find A Steal Budget Eatery
Food journeys can add a unique flavor to your vacation. Rather than hitting popular tourist restaurants, be roman in Rome. It is also sensible to eat where the locals dine as you can find places that fit in your pocket more easily. Remember that local food is always more affordable than non-local cuisines.
You are not only likely to get the most out of your meal, but you can also find the most popular local joints. You can begin by reading reviews online or even asking at the front desk. You can even google what or the best budget foods when traveling to a particular state. Who knows, you might end up having a new favorite dish that can make your trip memorable!
Flexibility: Eat Out When Others Don’t
Places that experience heavy crowds of weekend visitors tend to hike up their prices for those few days. However, you will be surprised to know that the cost of food is nearly halved at most such places during the weekdays to attract patrons.
So, if you are staying in a city for longer, then be flexible and dine out when the peak time prices are over. You can get the same food and experience at a much lower cost in the middle of the week as compared to Saturday or Sunday.
At times it is not what you eat but when you eat, so this tip is not for budget foods when traveling but how to cut down costs if traveling for a week or more.
Portion sizes in restaurants can be overwhelming for one person to finish. So, sharing your dishes is an excellent idea. You can ask them to split the portions into different plates when you order. Sharing also allows everyone to try out more dishes while eating on a budget keeping everyone happy.
It is a good idea to begin by ordering little portions or fewer dishes and eat slowly. In this way, you will know when your stomachs are full, and no food will be wasted.
As explained earlier, being nifty about saving food costs is also important and budget foods when you try to eat on a budget while traveling.
Cheap Doggy Bags: Save It For Your Next Meal
There is always a possibility that you may end up with some leftovers. You do not have to stuff yourself and there is no need to waste it either. Just ask the restaurant for a box and you can enjoy the leftovers at your next meal.
Popularly known as ‘doggy bags’, nearly all restaurants are happy to provide a bag or a box for you to take your food with you. After all, you have paid for it! Just make sure that the food is stored correctly when you are back at your vacation rental and that it will be safe to eat at the next meal.
If you can store properly then you pay once and eat twice, this can expand your list of budget foods when traveling by a considerable margin.
Coupons and Deals: Save Big, Free Lunch, Discounts!
Keep an eye out for deals even if you want to venture out for fine dining. These will include happy-hour prices during off-peak times, or eat-all-you-can lunches, or even two-for-one meal deals.
Just scout around a bit and you can find an eatery that caters to your stomach’s palette as well as enables you to enjoy vacation meals on a budget. You can even look for food deals and coupons before you begin your holiday by searching for them online.
Go Cheap for Breakfast: Cook Easy & Scrumptious Meals
Experts say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and the best way to make sure that you save money and do not miss out on a healthy one is to cook it on your own. Eggs, toast, pancakes (frozen or from a mix), and French toast are some of the most cost-effective items that can be quickly prepared while everyone is getting ready for the day. Bagels and cream cheese are also low cost and may be purchased from a local bakery at the end of the day and often for a much lower price since they are sometimes discarded. The idea is to have a heavy breakfast and then go light during lunchtime.
Dine-in: Costs A Fraction, Double The Fun
You do not have to eat out every day just because you are on a vacation. You can buy ingredients from the local supermarket and cook a meal at a fraction of the cost. With more and more tourists searching for vacation meals on a budget, most vacation rentals provide basic cooking and baking facilities within the rental. They typically come with a fully functional kitchen including cookware and dinnerware. Why not search out a recipe that matches the menu from a famous local restaurant and try to make it yourself? It could be fun! Now, your vacation rental will be your perfect home away from home.
Say No to Drinks or BYOB: Save Big On Alcohol
Drinking alcohol along with your meal can add to the cost significantly. As a result, most people will suggest avoiding it altogether to remain within your vacation meal budget.
However, if the restaurant has a specialty beverage or if you are visiting a region famous for wine or craft beer, then you certainly do not want to miss out on the experience.
In such a case, try to find a restaurant that offers BYOB or Bring Your Own Bottle. The eatery may charge a minimal ‘corkage fee’ but it will still be cheaper than ordering drinks along with the food.
Pack a Snack: Avoid Exorbitant Tourist Pricing
Vending machine snacks are not just smaller in portions, but also more expensive. Instead, pack snacks as part of your baggage. Or you can also stock up on snacks by visiting the local supermarket when you arrive at your destination.
You can start by packing light snacks for your travel and then replenish them as and when you cross a local supermarket on your travels. These snacks can include fresh fruits, string cheese, dried fruit, yogurt, granola bars, etc.
Dining out can also come with service charges and taxes that can be a substantial portion of your bill toppling your budget if you are not aware of these when you order.
Other costs can include refills for soda, tea, and coffee. Some places may also charge for substitutions, splitting meals, and additional toppings. Even though most places make sure that such additional charges are mentioned, you should always make it a point to ask first.
How to Achieve Vacation Meals on a Budget?
While loading up on snacks is the most cost-effective way to save on food while traveling, they cannot take the place of a proper meal. In order to achieve this, the ideal option is to select accommodations with sufficient provision for cooking meals. Or at least enough tools to heat up takeaway meals or leftovers.
Thirdly, look for deals wherever you go. While most places are buzzing with deals during tourist season, you will be surprised at the discounts that you can get during off-peak times.
Fourth, While considering eat on a budget while traveling, order wisely making sure that you remain within your budget even if there are any unforeseen costs at the end of the meal.
And lastly, never pass up on freebies. For instance, if you are dining at a place on a special occasion, there is no harm in disclosing this to the owners. You may end up with a free lunch or a meal voucher for your next visit.
Having understood how to save money on food, check out various cheap activities and attractions in different states in our budget travel section. We have compiled state-wise samplings for your convenience. I am sure, you will find loads of experiences that will not burn a hole in your pocket. Also, find out the top 10 best cities of the USA for budget travel.
Vacation meals on a budget can become a reality even if you follow half of the above-mentioned tips. There are plenty of ways to eat on a budget while traveling without burning a hole in your pocket. Having said that, try to book your stay a vacation rental instead of a hotel. This is because you will not only be supplied with a working kitchen where you can prepare your own meals at a fraction of the cost of eating out, the properties also come with the essential cooking tools and equipment.
You can pick and choose from various options on our website Rental Trader and go for the property that will suit you the most. It is an excellent platform for vacation rental property owners to register and display their properties. You can quickly list your property on RentalTrader.com by clicking the “List a Property” button at the upper right corner of the page. Within a few minutes, your listing will be done!