You love to travel, to see the world and experience different cultures, but it eats into your budget (pun intended). There are many aspects of travel you can’t control: gas prices, airfare, passport fees, etc. You can, however, manage food costs to a great degree.
The fact of the matter is that you’ll eat whether you’re two states away from home or at your own dining room table. Groceries are just part of life. So why does common sense fly out the window when we travel? Why, all of a sudden, do we think it’s okay to eat out every meal while we’re on vacation?
Yes, I understand that vacation means not having to cook and tasting new cuisine, but chances are you don’t cook at home every meal either. Let this be your motivation: the cheaper you learn to travel, the more of the world you’ll be able to see. Check out these common sense food travel tips.
Find a grocery store when you arrive
Buy simple, non-perishable groceries at your destination. Fresh fruit, granola bars, peanut butter and bread make for simple breakfasts, lunches and snacks for a fraction of the cost of a restaurant meal. If you’re staying in a hotel that provides a mini-fridge and/or a microwave, your options increase exponentially. Milk for cereal, lunchmeat and popcorn require little to no preparation.
Drinking water is often cheaper to purchase by the gallon at a grocery store than by the bottle anywhere else. Pack a reusable water bottle and fill it with the drinking water each morning before you head out to sight see.
Pack your lunch
Whether you’re hiking the Rocky Mountains or taking a bus tour in Europe, it’s a good idea to carry a backpack. In that backpack, put your water bottle and a sack lunch. Since you’ve already gone to the grocery store, you have food to pack a lunch that can be eaten almost anywhere. A sandwich, chips, apple and water in the touristy area of any city will easily cost you five times what you paid at the grocery store. That’s five meals for the cost of one, a savings that really adds up over the course of a week or more.
Choose where you eat with tipping in mind
After bagging your own breakfast and lunch, it’s time to experience the local cuisine. As you do, look for eateries, like delis, where you don’t have to tip the servers. Since tips add twenty percent or more to your bill, dining places where you order at the counter can save you $4 on a $20 dinner. Do that for an entire week for a savings of almost $30… or the cost of your groceries at the beginning of the week.
Put the cooler in the car for road trips
If you and the family are travelling by car, there’s no need to wait until you get to your destination to buy groceries. Pack a cooler for the road trip and save the money and health consequences of eating fast food en route. Freeze the jugs of drinking water to keep the cooler cool. (It also keeps the ice from melting and making the contents of the cooler soggy.) As the ice in the water jugs melts, use it for drinking water.