May 17, 2012
your summer planning guide week three: eating on a budget
welcome back to the summer travel guide series hosted by cailin at a white picket fence and yours truly! don't miss what we have already covered:
getting the most out of a hotel reservation
planning and traveling on a budget
planning a successful and relaxing staycation
lots of different lodging options
there - are you all caught up now?? this week i am focusing on a few ways to eat on a budget while you are on vacation and cailin is covering fun places to go and what to do once you get ther over on her blog. make sure to hop over to a white picket fence and say hello!
today i'm going all "$40 a day rachael ray" on you guys and sharing a few simple and doable tips on saving some money while eating on your vacation!
except i'm not limiting you to eating out for one person for $40 a day. because really, who travels alone everywhere and eats every meal alone? i certainly don't. ;)
1. pack your snacks
if you are driving, bring along a cooler full of healthy snacks and quick, easy meals. things like almonds, spinach and turkey wraps, bottled water and homemade chocolate chip cookies on hand will save you money while you are roadtrippin'. no more bags of greasy chips and a dr. pepper at the gas station. bring enough to haul around with you once you get to your destination also. carry a baggie of trailmix or some homemade peanut butter cracker sandwiches for between meal snacks. this will eliminate a stop at the touristy, high priced restaurant for a $10 plate of nachos and a $4 iced tea.
2. use coupons and gift certificates
once again - i praise the amazingness that is groupon and living social. check out these sites for deals on restaurants in the areas you are going to be visiting. a couple of other great restaurant coupon sites to check out are entertainment.com (where you can purchase coupon books) and restaurant.com where you can buy discounted giftcards for restaurants. they even have an iphone app if you're in to that sort of thing. :)
another quick and easy way to save a little extra dough when you eat out is to get it to go. bring your own drinks (from your cooler of snacks) and take your meal to a nice spot where you can further enjoy the locale and skip out on beverage costs and the tip.
3. take advantage of your hotel
do your absolute best to book a hotel with a free breakfast and take advantage of it! eat a large, filling, and healthy breakfast to tide you over through your day of sight-seeing and you will be able to spend less on lunch because (hopefully) you are still full from breakfast. some hotels even have a complimentary snack bar or small afternoon meal so make sure you check with your hotel.
4. check out where the locals eat
venture off the beaten tourist drive and ask about where the locals eat. restaurants on the tourist path are not only hot spots but they are high priced too - taking advantage of those who don't ask about other restaurants. one thing that is a requirement for me while on vacation is to eat somewhere i could never eat at home. why eat at a chain restaurant i can dine in whenever i want when i could check out a local dive where the food is outrageous and way better priced? make friends with the concierge or receptionist and don't be afraid to ask.
5. dine in
you would be surprised what you can do with a small kitchen in a hotel room. either bring some food in your cooler (from #1) or stop about an hour before you get to your destination to grab a few things you can fix quickly in your hotel room. think sandwiches and chips with fruit, microwaveable meals (lean cuisines top my list, honestly) or pasta salads with tyson grilled chicken strips. clip coupons before you go to save an additional few dollars here and there.
this is just a few of the many many ideas and tips for eating on a budget while on a vacation. i'd love to hear some tips and ideas from you guys on things you have done in the past to save a few bucks here and there
also - please excuse my gratuitous use of the family guy picnic picture. i couldn't help myself. ;)