You're on a fabulous vacation, but you're probably also in a touristy area with high mark-ups and ridiculously expensive meals, right? You have mouths to feed but you don't want your wallet to suffer. You also don't want fast food for every meal (which isn't always cheap anyway!), and sit down venues eat up your budget quickly. I've compiled my top 4 money-saving tips that saved us lots of money during out recent vacation to Monterey and Santa Cruz, Ca. Yes, we spent money on yummy desserts, delicious foods, and tourist attractions a few times (Quicken.com can help with setting a budget). BUT, we saved a lot on food and still had full bellies! In a tourist area, you've got to find ways to stretch every penny, and food is an area that this is absolutely possible! Be prepared, bring the cooler, and check out my tips!
Bring your own breakfast!
Although we got an incredible deal on a hotel room (from a very generous family member who has hookups!), the hotel did not include any sort of breakfast. To just eat a continental-style breakfast AT the hotel was a whopping $16 per person! I don't think so!! We brought fruit, juice, milk, yogurt, oatmeal, and cereal. We also brought a cooler for cold items and just replaced the ice each day at the hotel's ice machines (for free!). We also found a grocery store each night before (we had a Safeway near by), and picked up freshly baked muffins in the bakery. A 4-pack of muffins for $1.99! Just remember to bring along some utensils and bowls if necessary.
Save your leftovers and eat them the next day!
After walking in and out of a Sushi restaurant that was charging an arm and a leg for dinner, we decided to walk over to Round Table Pizza! We had the BEST Farmer's Market style pizza EVER! It was covered in cheese, pepperoni, basil, organic tomatoes, and a vinaigrette drizzle on top. This pizza is a new variety and was on special for only $15 for a large. We had quite a bit left, put it in their smallest to-go boxes, and saved it in our hotel room's fridge. We ate it for lunch the next day!
Frozen meals are your new best friend!
Again, utilize local grocery stores for your meals. Okay, okay. So you don't want a TV dinner on vacation. I get it. But have you checked the frozen meals out lately?? They're getting healthier, and better tasting. Kashi meals are amazing, and Amy's Organic meals are fabulous too. Safeway even has an O Organics line now. Who wants to eat fast food for every meal, or have a sit down meal and pay an arm and a leg. Not me! Just head to the store, have each person grab a meal, and microwave it back at the hotel!
Bring your own snacks and drinks!
This is really a no-brainer, but really, don't forget! There's always a store on the side of the road, but not without paying more than you would have if you had brought your own. By planning ahead, you can score more for your money when you combine sales and coupons. Don't get caught with the little ones (and Hubby, hehe) begging for a snack or a cold drink at the most inopportune times. Sorry, but 7-11 is just way too expensive. Honey, check the cooler! :)