Family vacations should be all about kicking back and having fun, right?
Unfortunately, wrangling the family for a trip is easier said than done.
Not to mention the hidden costs of vacation travel, which often pop up when we’re least expecting them. For starters, consider the following:
- Hidden extras in terms of flying, such as airline fees for checked baggage
- Parking fees for attractions, which can quickly add up (for example, Walt Disney World charges $20 per day for guests staying off-property)
- Hotels that skimp on accommodations: you may end up paying for the so-called “complimentary” wi-fi or breakfast that you thought were free
Perhaps one of the most infamous hidden costs of travel comes in the form of food.
Think about it: eating out for every meal during a week-long trip could quickly blow out the cost of your plane ticket before you know it. So, how can you possibly stay fed on-the-go without going over your food budget?
Thankfully, there are four ways that families can keep food costs down during vacations, regardless of your destination.
Hunt for Deals
There’s no shame in hunting for deals on cheap eats, especially when you’re traveling. Having a daily budget for food will ultimately ensure that you don’t overspend, so try to spot discounts wherever you can.
Many hotels and areas with heavy tourist traffic boast brochures and coupon books to help you save. Additionally, not every meal needs to be a five-star affair: for example, you can find pizza coupons and enjoy takeout as an alternative to blowing out your food budget.
Avoid the Tourist Trap
If you’re visiting an area that’s hopping with tourists, such as Los Angeles or Orlando, keep in mind that many restaurants purposely jack up their prices to prey on tourists. If possibly, avoid such restaurants and literally go the extra mile to escape exorbitant prices. Chances are, there are chain or local restaurants a few miles away with reasonable fare.
Additionally, try to keep your meals relatively simple while you’re traveling. For example, try to share meals and avoid soda, opting to water instead. These seemingly small details of dining can quickly add up over the course of your trip.
It never hurts to do your homework ahead of time. By reading reviews on sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor, you can get a sense of where locals like to eat and which restaurants are within your price range. In addition, you can use your planning as an opportunity to pick out one place to have a nicer meal where you can splurge.
Bring Your Own Food
Perhaps the most obvious cost-saving solution is to bring your own food on the trip or do some shopping locally once you’ve arrived at your hotel. Although not the most glamorous option, you can bring your own fare while still enjoying some local flavor.
For example, you can bring Cliff bars or fruit as an alternative to spending money on breakfast every morning. While you’re not expected to cook day after day while you’re on vacation, consider how portable meal replacement bars and fruit can help you spend a fraction of what you would at a sit-down restaurant.
When traveling, you need to spot savings wherever you possibly can. Rather than stress out over your food budget, make the most of your stop by eating smart without breaking the bank.