Over the past few years, I’ve been on the road quite a bit. Well, as much as somebody who works full time is ever able to be. I have averaged 2-3 trips per year within North America, each one bringing different money saving (and splurging) opportunities and challenges. I just recently returned from a trip to Southern California, where we stayed the entire trip for $50 (the AirBNB cost for our last night there). Thanks, couch surfing!
Alcohol was dirt cheap in New Orleans, and transportation was a very small line on our budget in New York City. Something that I’ve found throughout all of my trips to the many different places I’ve visited, is that food is always a cost that is hard to contain. After all, you’ve got to eat! Plus, I have to admit to having a guilty pleasure for going all out on local cuisine when I travel. I have a big appetite and love to eat.
Even so, after spending hundreds of dollars on food on my trip to NYC, I began to look more into saving some serious money on dining for my next trip.
In Southern California, I was pretty successful on doing just that, so I thought I’d spread the knowledge wealth!:
I know grocery shopping doesn’t sound like a lot of fun when you go away on vacation (you’re probably dreaming about not having to do that!), but even if you don’t have a full kitchen in your accommodation, you can still save a lot of money by grocery shopping for your food when you get to your destination.
If your accommodation has a fridge, you can make salads and cold meals easily. There are a lot of things you can make without a full stove, so this is a pretty good option if you want to be very frugal.
Even buying pre-made salads and entrees at the grocery store is substantially cheaper than eating out.
Daily Deal Sites
Daily deal sites can be a pointless waste of money when you are at home, but when you are on the road they can be a budget saver. If you have a Groupon or Living Social app on your phone, the app can detect your location and give you restaurant deals near where you are, helping you save substantially.
Beware of the fine print, though. Sometimes, these daily deals can only be used on specific days of the week or require a reservation.
Bonus tip: There are often great deals on attractions on daily deal sites, so keep you eye open for those as well.
When I am travelling, I am often hungry; I think it’s because of all of the walking I do to and from different attractions. They say the best way to see a city is on foot, so I take that very seriously.
I don’t want to have a full meal every time my stomach grumbles, so to avoid the cost and caloric implications of café and gas station snacks, I pack my own in my suitcase and throw a few in my purse when I leave my hotel. I pack things like granola bars (the healthier and higher in protein, the better), fruit that doesn’t have to be cut up, a small bag of popcorn (surprisingly filling), or some veggies.
Be careful not to pack anything too wet for snacks. You don’t want them blowing up in your bag, especially when you are travelling.
Treat Yourself Sparingly
We’ve all been on those trips when we indulge almost every day (for every meal!). Instead of going out for a fancy dinner every night, spend $6 on dinner at a food truck one night and the next night, indulge yourself by picking a place at which you’ve always wanted to eat.
Generally lunch and breakfast can be cheap and easy. Remember, a treat is called a treat for a reason!
How have you saved money on food while travelling?