For a lot of people, one of the great pleasures of going on a vacation is experiencing the food of a new location. There will be exotic delicacies and simple local recipes, world-famous restaurants, and lavish room service at hotels. But the problem with all of this – as many eager travellers will probably tell you, and that you’ve probably already experienced for yourself – is that your food budget on vacation can get pretty overwhelming.
Vacations are rarely that cheap. Even when you’ve landed a great deal, you’re still spending more on travel and accommodation than you’d generally spend on any given day or week at home, even when you’re treating yourself! So it’s pretty prudent to find ways in which you can save money wherever you can.
The problem with food, of course, is that it’s a necessary expense. Unless you’ve found a way to switch off your need for sustenance while you’re on vacation, you’re going to have to eat three meals a day. (And no, you shouldn’t be skipping meals in order to save money – you’ll end up feeling weak and tired, which isn’t ideal when you’re trying to enjoy yourself!). Thankfully, there are several ways you can save a shocking amount of money on food when you’re travelling!
While you’re still at home and preparing for your trip, you should hit websites like Yelp! And Google Maps. Research the areas you’re going to be visiting thoroughly. While a strict itinerary can stifle your fun a little bit, you should have a good idea of the sorts of restaurants available to you in your planned destinations. This is one of the best ways to save money if you’re planning on relying on restaurants during your stay. There tend to be certain areas that feature cheaper eateries, such as areas close to colleges. It’s easier to locate these when you take the time to research maps and reviews before you head off!
Get your own kitchen
Perhaps the best way to save money on food during your stay is to cook your own. Unfortunately, your average hotel room doesn’t really let you do this! However, it is possible to find hotel rooms that include small kitchen units. If you want something a bit more comprehensive, then you can look into something like Windham rentals to get accommodation that features a full-fledged kitchen. These options are sometimes a little more expensive than your average hotel room, but you can end up saving so much on meals that you actually end up spending less by the end of the vacation! When you have your own cooking facilities, you can rely on grocery stores to make your own meals just as you do at home.
Be wary of recommendations
If you’re staying at a hotel and you’re relatively new to the area, then you may end up relying on information from the hotel concierge to find your way around. While concierges tend to be highly knowledgeable and extremely useful, they also tend to suggest quite expensive places to eat. This is because the recommendations of places to eat tend to be quite close to the hotel, meaning that they’re in quite touristy places – which means they’re going to be expensive! If you do need to ask for recommendations, then you’re definitely better off speaking to locals. Of course, there are also the big global names in cheap food to which you can be pointed, which tend to be reliable and reasonably priced – it’s just a case of if you fancy a McDonald’s while you’re on vacation!
Be strategic with meal sizes
The most expensive time to eat is at dinner, which is generally considered to be any time after 6pm. (This also tends to be when most people get off work!) Restaurants tend to charge more for their food when compared to similar portions during lunch. With this in mind, you may want to consider being strategic with your meal sizes. Lunch is generally much cheaper than dinner when you’re travelling – so why not increase the size of your lunch and reduce the size of your dinner? This can result in more savings than you might expect.
Coupons and travel passes
Coupons aren’t just something penny-pinching locals are interested in! Before you leave, you should check coupon websites for the area to which you’re headed. There may be big savings opportunities for some of the best restaurants in town. Another thing you should look into is the tourist travel passes that a lot of big cities offer (Los Angeles and New York City come to mind!). These are the passes that let you get into several tourist attractions and restaurants at a discount!