We’re thrifty people. We like to stretch our dollar (or euro, quetzal, krona) as far as we can, yet still have good fun and adventure along the way. We also like to to eat. Sometimes it seems that we plan our day just based on what and where we are going to eat. We’ve learned how and when to splurge, and when to cut back in order to maximize our travel budget. Sometimes our travel destination makes this very easy (Central America), and sometimes we have to get a little more creative (Scandinavia).
1. Grocery Shopping
Depending on how much time we’re spending at our destination, and our type of lodging, a trip to the grocery store can make a huge difference in the amount of money we spend on meals. We especially use this option for breakfast when staying at a rented house or condo (through sites like vrbo and homeaway). A box of cereal, some milk, and juice, and we’re fueled and ready to go for a day of adventure.
If you use coupons at home, why not bring them along on your travels? As long as we are traveling in the states, we make room in our bags for the coupon organizer. While Slaed is no where near those “extreme coupon” stars, he is pretty impressive, and knows how to work the system. It might take a little extra time and patience, but the savings makes it totally worth it! While you’re at it, don’t forget to check the store’s circular, and use their loyalty card. Along the same lines, we check to see if we can use the Passport Dining Card at our destination, and bring it along if we think we might use it.
3. Farmer’s Markets & Food Trucks
With both of these options, you often end up with delicious food made locally and with local ingredients. You’re not paying for the restaurant ambiance, and they also allow you to eat on the go so you can get on with seeing more of your destination. Farmers markets are great for finding breakfast for the next day like fruit, breads, bagels, and other pastries.
4. Keep it Simple.
This is often our motto for lunches on the road. Grab something quick and easy. In Iceland it was the N1 gas station hot dogs. It might not be the healthiest, but in a country as expensive as Iceland, it fit our budget and allowed us to splurge a little bit at dinner. In Norway, we went with what we call the Rick Steves lunch. We picked up salami, cheese, and crackers at a local grocery store, and with the help of our hotel refrigerator, we were able to get 2, possibly 3 meals out it.
5. Don’t Waste your Leftovers.
We do not like to waste food. It’s a huge no-no in our family, and sometimes we even set aside food from our dinner entrees to save for the next day, even on the road. We enjoy leftovers all the time. We’ll even take our friends’ leftovers. If the tools, like a refrigerator and microwave, are available at our lodgings, it can work out really well. “Free” lunch the next day (or a nice snack later)!
6. Happy Hour.
If you can eat a little early, or sometimes a little later, you can end up saving a lot. Just don’t go crazy by ordering too much, like we sometimes tend to do if we are super hungry.
If you have a traveling companion (or 2), this can work out really well as long as you have similar tastes in food. Sometimes one of us orders a larger entree while the other orders a smaller appetizer or something a la carte. With such huge portions at many restaurants these days, we end up with plenty of food. We just might not have leftovers!
How do you stretch your food dollar on the road?
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