If you’re lucky enough to be heading out on vacation soon, you’re probably looking forward to the countless hours of relaxation. However, planning that relaxation is anything but restful, especially when it comes to outlining a budget!
On average, your vacation will cost you a whopping $1,145 per person—which can be hard for many people to stomach. If you’re looking to shave a few dollars off that total, however, there’s no easier way than by planning out your foods.
Eating vacation meals on a budget may seem impossible in a new city, but the right tips can help. If you’re struggling to decide what to eat on vacation, here’s what you should know to keep your budget intact.
1.Plan in Advance
Before you get to your destination, try to have a general plan of your best money-saving ideas while on vacation. Whether you want to avoid restaurants or you plan to be coupon-savvy, knowing your food plan in advance can keep you from making impulse decisions that break your budget.
Sit down and decide how much you can afford to spend. Once you have a clear budget in place, outline a written plan with the tips below to stay on track.
2.Check for Coupons and Discounts
Because they’re less familiar with resources for discounts away from home, many travellers skip this helpful tip. However, the right coupon can get you great discounts on local fare at your destination!
If you aren’t sure where to look, start by checking with your hotel. Many hotels offer discounts for popular restaurants in the area. Alternatively, grab your list of places you’d like to eat and hunt for online and newspaper coupons.
Some popular travel destinations will even offer small booklets of coupons to travellers. These booklets may include coupons for restaurants and food tours as well as other events and attractions. However, you may have to pay a small fee for the booklet, so you should look at the coupons to decide whether you’ll use them enough to make the cost worthwhile.
You can also try using a coupon site with a free deal finder for a quick, cost-effective process.
If you happen to have gift cards for chain restaurants, don’t forget to factor those into your budget! Just be sure to check that the chain has restaurants in your destination city.
3.Don’t Pass on a Free Meal
Whenever possible, try to book a hotel that offers complimentary breakfasts to its guests. Depending on the size of your group and the length of your trip, this simple choice could save you hundreds of dollars!
Many larger hotels don’t mind if guests take a little of the fruit or prepackaged breakfast food, either. Grabbing an apple or a plastic-wrapped muffin for a snack can be a great way to keep the hunger at bay for longer.
Don’t forget about other hotel freebies as well: many offer complimentary snacks and refreshments in the lobby as well. Some also have free happy hours and light bar snacks.
4.Eat Out for Lunch, Not Dinner
If you’re trying to save money, you may want to opt for a large paid lunch instead of paying for dinner. Most restaurants and buffets have special rates to attract customers during lunch hours.
For dinner, plan to eat a big enough lunch to skip it entirely, or opt for cheaper street fare or fast food instead.
5.Make Your Own Food
Though paying more money for a kitchenette may seem like the last thing you want to do, the pros may outweigh the cons. Opting for a room with a kitchenette gives you the ability to buy groceries instead of restaurant meals, which can save you a great deal of money in the long run.
This doesn’t mean you should avoid restaurants completely if you’d like to eat out, but preparing your own meals can save you enough money to make up the difference.
Depending on your travel plans, you may even want to make a day of it: prepare a picnic lunch for you and your fellow travellers to save money and enjoy the great outdoors.
6.Bring Your Own Snacks
If you’re driving to your destination and you have extra space in your car, pack snacks from home to tide you over during the drive. There are plenty of clever road trip snacks that you can prepare in advance with a few simple ingredients.
Once you reach your destination, head to a grocery to grab some extra snacks you can keep in your hotel room to keep you from making pricey impulse trips to a vending machine—or worse, a restaurant.
7.Mention Special Occasions
If you’re travelling around a big day like a birthday or graduation, mentioning it to your server might score you some extra free food. Anniversaries, big moves, new jobs, and other celebrations are also fair game, though your mileage may vary!
In addition, don’t forget to opt into restaurant rewards programs, especially at chain restaurants. These companies may email you special offers and freebies around your birthday, and you can usually redeem them anywhere in the country.
Find Great Vacation Meals on a Budget
Finding delicious vacation meals on a budget isn’t an impossible task—but it does take work. Now that you understand how to create a meal plan for your trip, you’ll be better equipped to stay in control of your spending. This, in turn, can help you put more of your money into all the fun and relaxing activities you have planned!
Want more of the essential guides you need for travel and beyond? Check out our other posts for additional insights.
Thanks For Reading
More Read On Forbes Magazine