Friday, August 5, 2011

How to Eat Cheap on Vacation


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!


Tip #1:
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.


Tip #2:
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!


Tip #3:
  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!


Tip #4:
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! :)



Have another great tip? Share it! I hope you save a ton on your next vacation!


52 comments:

Meg said...

Similar to your idea of having bowls and stuff for breakfast, we have a travel to go box. In the plastic box ( it is retangular with handles bought at the dollar store), we have 4 small ceramic lunch plates, 4 ceramic bowls, metal cutlery for 4, a small bottle of dish soap ( wrapped in a zipper bag so it does not leak),dish rag, dish towel, 4 plastic tumblers, paper towels, plastic wrap, and large plastic zipper bags.

We found when we were staying in a hotel with a fridge and microwave, we had nothing to microwave our leftovers in ( as I don't want to put plastic or paper in the microwave). This makes it easy to have on hand.

Reynolds Dad said...

Don't Forget that by saving our money on the Hotel Meals, we had plenty of cash to eat all that yummy ice cream in Monterey, and at that nice restaurant with a view (view was nice, but food was blah)

Kelly L said...

Wish we could have used your great tips on our vacation last month - we flew from CA to the east coast - approx. $100 a day or more on meals for 2 weeks - yikes.. Next summer taking the car!
I've Become My Mother
I've Become My Mother facebook

mhoward said...

Great ways to help cut the cost of eating when you are on vacay! When the kids were small we'd always look for the "kids eat free" signs, too!

cyndi said...

We travel from Maryland (we live) to Illinois (his family and our daughter live) and we also have a to-go box (snacks, utensils etc..) and we pack sandwiches and meals to go!
One other way to save on vacation is by asking siblings, cousins, parents, grandparents... if they have employee benefits for hotel, restaurants, entertainment. My daughter works for a firm that allows family members, ie: parents, grandparents siblings... to use their corporate benefit pkg. Weve saved on hotel, rental cars, disney passes, Hershey Park (Disney was 40%off!)

Mandie said...

Great tips. I bring our own snacks no matter where we go. Usually lunch too. Vacations can be so expensive.

Mandie
Taking Time for Mommy

Grumpy Grateful Mom said...

I appreciated your tips! We have waited to buy snacks until we're on the road and have shelled out too much. Like you mentioned, I also always try to have a hotel fridge.

tonyknuckles said...

Really great tips for being frugal in today's economic malaise.

Digi Stitches said...

Nice tips, many of which I use regularly. Thanks for sharing!

Sadie said...

We are on vacation right now! :) Just went to Wal-Mart this evening and got bread, tomatoes, and cheese.. oh and chips and drinks! All for about $20 and it took care of dinner and for lunch tomorrow, for 5 of us. Great post!

Christine said...

I always try to do #1 and #4. But bringing or buying frozen means is not always an option if you don't have a fridge...or you thought you would but there is none in the room....

Kelly's Lucky You said...

Great tips! It can make a HUGE difference and feels so good not to come home to a huge credit card bill after a vacation :)

Karen K said...

Good ideas! On our last vacation, for lunch each day, we made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before we headed out for the day. We brought a cooler with cheese sticks, yogurt, bottled, water, and other snacks. It saved us a ton of money!

Brittney said...

Thanks for the advice! I always bring our own snacks when we go on vacation! it is so much cheaper to bring your own stuff than to buy it last minute!!!!
babybensmama at yahoo dot com

Screaming Sardine said...

These are great ideas! Meals can be so expensive on vacations - almost as much as the hotel room, esp. if you have a big family. Thanks for these tips.

Stumbled this for ya. :)

Cheers,
Tracy Screaming Sardine

Linda R. said...

Thanks for sharing your tips. We take trips to Disneyland and I always take water & chips for the my nephews & daughter. The bags of chips & water cost $3.00 each at Disney so i make sure i always take reusable water bottles and cookies, chips or carrots so they can munch on. I save $24 by just doing that.

lyromero77 at yahoo dot com

TJ @ MeasuringFlower.com said...

Great tips! :-D And such a CUTE little guy! Hey, stumbling this post (yes, I'm slow at getting to it, lol). I hope you have a great day!

17sirens said...

That's weird, I thought I already commented on this post. haha

My sister recently took a vacation up north with her husband. And while it was just the two of them, they pretty must used all of these tips!

Packing food is definitely one that helps a LOT. And if you were like them, and the nearest restaurant was not withing waking distance, it's a real saver!

Kimberly said...

If staying at a hotel, I love to take advantage of the free breakfast. Pretty tasty too!

samantha said...

Great tips! We always try to stay in a hotel that offers the free hot breakfast. :)

LizSamples said...

we dont travel much, but these are great tips for when we do!

Melissa said...

I love to try and eat cheap on vacation too! We ate out of a cooler when we stayed a week in Montreal a few years back.

bloggymommy said...

lots of great tips! we mostly go camping, so we try to bring all of our own stuff and only eat out once or twice :-).

Felicia R said...

We like to share a plate sometimes to save money. Serving sizes are so big and some foods aren't as good taken home and reheated.

Rachel said...

good tips. I can't imagine my family going for the frozen meals, but maybe... Either way, things that you can cook in the hotel (be it salads & sandwiches or whatever) will be cheaper than going out.

And we also like to cash in our money-back rewards from credit cards for restaurant gift cards-they generally give you more gift card $ than you would get in actual money. Helps us to go on vacation & eat out at restaurant chains we like if use the GCs then.

Attila & Tamara said...

One thing we do is share meals at restaurants. We love dessert so if we share a meal we have room for dessert and we don't end up throwing out what we couldn't eat!

morgan said...

great tips. we always pack our own snacks and get stuff to make sandwiches for lunches.

kmogilevski said...

I always bring my own snacks and drinks! It's so much cheaper than going really hungry and then stuffing your face.

all natural katie
allnaturalkatie at gmail dot com

April G said...

Excellent money saving tips! We always bring snacks for our 3 year old when we travel, and should start bringing more for ourselves too. :)

Michelle_B said...

i personally love eating leftovers! normally i end up eating them shortly after coming home but still... we pay for it so why not take it ALL home!

Mrs.Smitty said...

Hubby hates this, but we tote a cooler stocked with snacks and sandwich food. No need to stop for a juice or an apple when they're already in the car! And peanut butter and jelly is a healthy, quick and easy lunch on the go.

We also share meals (no one eats a whole meal at sit down restaurants in our family) or get appetizers. And water, not soda means hydration and no drink cost added to the total.

Crystal Epperson said...

Awesome tips!

Alex said...

We always spend too much. Thanks for the tips.

Judy said...

Thanks for the tips. A couple of them are new to me, I will definitely use them.

Judy
magnolias_1[at]msn[dot]com

Michigan_Mom said...

These are some fabulous ideas!! We ALWAYS pack a lunch & dinner when we go the amusement park. This way when we are ready to eat we walk to the van and take our chairs out and enjoy a nice picnic lunch/dinner without paying the unreasonably high food costs at the park :)

LindaHnub said...

love the tip of bringing your cooler.

Shannau said...

We do all those tips. With 4 kids, we try to make them all share 2 meals because they cant eat all of it. Hubs and I will split a meal sometimes and we try to look for cheap places or where kids eat free!

Jackie said...

I love this post. We don't have much opportunity for vacations yet...money is tight, but will definitely keep this in mind when taking a trip. Most of them are common sense ones, but we tend to act on impulse when hungry in our family. I know buying a thing of waters from the grocery store is going to be cheaper than getting one at each gas station, but doesn't come up until thirsty usually. :) Thank you for the tips.

Sherry said...

I don't go on vacation very often and when I go I try to save as much money as possible. Thanks for the tips on saving money every little bit helps.

Mrs. M said...

Thanks for these tips! My husband and I try to do similar things while we're vacationing just to avoid spending so much money on fast food! Especially when we travel by car, I will pack a cooler full of car friendly meals that we can eat while driving.

celebrie2 said...

Alot of good tips coming our way. Thanks for this post!

latanya said...

We try to bring our own snack and sandwich while traveling to save on eating out. Thanks for the additional tips.

Amanda said...

I wish you would have written this BEFORE we went on vacation! LOL Some of the things we did like bringing our own snacks and drinks. We always had a cooler filled with water in the back of the truck.
tvpg at aol dot com

stacythemagnificentmommy said...

We stay with family and plan meals ahead of time! Sometimes even if the house is small and we need to stay in a hotel- in which case bringing your own snacks is invaluable ;0) but will still plan for meals where we are together. That really helps cut down a lot. Otherwise if somewhere without addtl family, we try to get a place with a kitchenette to make our own stuff.

Anonymous said...

All of the ideas are fantastic and are helpful. Traveling costs plenty of money so however we can save is worth it. I especially like the ideas of the frozen healthy dinners. I would not have thought of that.

Maryann
twinkle at optonline dot net

frugalmommieof2 said...

Thanks for the great money saving tips. It can get expensive eating out while on vacations.

frugalmommieof2 at gmail.com

astroqueen67 said...

It's funny but the things you mentioned to save money are the same things my Mom did when we were kids! Holly Hennessy Swint astroqueen67@hotmail.com

ticklemetiffyyyy said...

we do all of these things when we go on vacation!! We choose one day to do a meal out treat but otherwise we are all in our PJs in front of the tv squeezed on the little beds together.
ticklemetiffy[at]gmail[dot]com

Mona said...

We always stay in hotels that have :

. A free breakfast buffet
. A microwave/frig
. A full kitchen(for longer stays)

As for meals:
. We bring 2-liter bottles of soda
. Order pizza
. McDonald's dollar menu
. Grocery store purchases

We generally don't buy food/drink from the hotel gift shop or convenience stores/gas stations.

Penny W said...

Thanks so much for the tips! We are driving cross country in two weeks and these will really help!

Grace Matthews said...

Thank you for the good tips. Food is usually one of the most expensive parts of going on vacation

Stephanie O'Dea said...

I travel with a slow cooker. Most hotels have a small fridge and microwave anyway (we make sure they do, if not a kitchenette) and all you need for a slow cooker is an outlet, anyway. I stock the cooler with frozen cooker dinners, then empty the plastic zippered bag in the morning into the cooker and cook on low.
it works, and it helps big time on amusement-park type vacations when the kids are tired and can't possibly have "restaurant manners."
xoox