If there’s one thing that I can’t compromise on in this life, it’s the love for travel, but grownup responsibilities mean grownup expenses. The Budget Travel Tips series from First Choice Power examine how you can travel while finding a way to save money. Whether you’re in school, have a family, or just don’t have the income you wish to support your travel dreams, we share tips on how you can still see the world – without going into debt!
Who’s Ready to Eat?
But all those savings might go to waste if you aren’t able to curb your spending when it comes to the food you eat!
Let’s face it – Food and water are the only items you truly can’t go without when you’re away from home. But when you’re on a vacation, there is the temptation to eat out for every meal. And if you don’t plan ahead, you’re at the mercy of having to spend more than you had planned, and this will eat into your budget.
We are not suggesting you can’t enjoy yourself on vacation with some local fare (Who goes to Maine and doesn’t eat lobster?), but by being thrifty with most of your meals, you’ll be able to save money that can be spent on those local (and possibly more expensive) meals that you’ll remember.
When planning for any vacation, it’s a smart idea to start with a list, especially when it comes to food.
How to Save Money on Food While Camping
Camping is hard work, so don’t be the ex-Cub Scout husband who wants to show his family his survival skills by “catching all the meals” and “foraging for berries.” You guys will starve. The key to being well-fed while camping is planning for all three meals, plus snacks. This sort of food planning is super-important for one obvious reason – you’re heading into nature where grocery stores don’t exist.
Easy to prepare items like oatmeal for breakfast and hot dogs to cook on the fire at night for dinner are easy and ideal. Besides, you don’t want to drag a ton of ingredients out into the middle of nowhere. Camping is about soaking up the atmosphere, not gourmet cooking.
Preparing cold items in advance like pasta salads, lentil salads, and fresh fruit are also inexpensive options for lunch and dinner. A loaf of bread and lunch meat is an easy and affordable way to have lunch.
Don’t forget to pack granola bars and trail mix for your hikes. Grab-and-go items loaded with protein are ideal, and when you shop in the bulk section at the grocery store, you’ll pack in more food for less cost.
How to Save Money in the City
If you’ve chosen a nice hotel or a rental home, then you likely have some sort of kitchen available. Take advantage of that by preparing one or two of your main meals each day in this space. Head to the local grocery store once you arrive to stock up on the items you need for meals, and then grab snacks for trekking around the city.
All that walking around as tourist can leave a traveler wear and tired. Pack a bag with trail mix, fresh fruit, and a protein bar to stave off hunger in between meals. Also take advantage of having a coffee maker at your temporary residence and make a cup before you head out, rather than spending money on an expensive latte at a cafe. And if you eat out, bring home your leftovers to enjoy for lunch the next day.
Often the street food lends the authentic flavor of the region, and it’s easier on the pocketbook than a sit-down restaurant. Be smart and don’t overdo it. You don’t want to spend your vacation with a tummy ache!
Finally, bring along a sturdy water bottle and fill it up at fountains when you see one. The few dollars here and there you’re not spending on drinks will certainly add up.
How to Save Money en Route
It’s tough these days when it comes to flying, with security measures restricting what you can bring on board. Instead of shopping a pricey concourse kiosk, slip a few things in your carry-on to eat while you wait to board your plane.
Consider bringing an empty refillable water bottle through security, and then fill it up before you board the plane. Depending upon the airline, It’s OK to bring a few snacks in your carry on, too. Just make sure you ask what’s permissible before you arrive at the airport.
You can apply the same ideas when traveling on a train, too!
If you’re driving to your destination, stopping for dinner at a restaurant for each meal can really add up – especially if you’re a large family. The best way to save a few bucks is to pack a cooler with a picnic lunch. Just pull over at a nice rest stop and pull out the spread.
We wish you the happiest of budget conscious travels! Bon voyage!