Traveling often means having fun and relaxing, which means that you are not going to want to think when it comes to mealtime or snack time. However, eating out and grabbing snacks on the go can add up over the course of a trip, especially with kids that are always hungry and thirsty, and it is the easiest way to guarantee that you will go way over your budget! Thankfully, there are so many things that you can do to save money on food when you travel.
Here are 9 ways to save money on food while traveling with kids:
1. Consider Your Hotel Carefully
One of the best choices you can make when planning your vacations is to choose a family-friendly hotel that offers a free breakfast. However, you must check out the reviews online prior to making your reservations, to ensure that the breakfast that you will be eating is edible.
After all, there is nothing worse than thinking your breakfast is covered and free and then finding out that you or the rest of your family won’t or can’t eat any of it! I prefer to stay in hotels that offer a hot breakfast that has a couple of choices each day, as well as fresh fruit, cereal, muffins, yogurt, and a couple other small things.
2. Consider Reserving Accommodations with a Kitchen
Yes, I know that meal planning and cooking is not on your list of must-do vacation activities! However, think of all the money that you can save if you prepare as many meals as you can! You can simply go to the grocery store when you arrive at your destination, or bring food from home, and then prepare meals and snacks as you would at home.
Just make sure to bring some baggies or containers with you for all those lunches and snacks on the go! And here are some tips on how to score the best accommodation for your family’s needs.
3. Purchase Food or Take it with You if You are Driving to Your Destination
This ties into the tip above, but this will work even if you do not have a kitchen in your room. I recommend stopping at the grocery store and buying anything that you think that you will need throughout the week that you can eat without needing to heat up or keep cold.
This includes cereal, which can be eaten dry as a snack or for a quick breakfast if your kids are early risers, chips, dried fruit, fruit cups, pretzels, crackers, fresh fruit, and even some bread and peanut butter. If your room at least has a mini fridge, you can buy some milk and juice to keep in there too. It is also an excellent idea to take a reusable water bottle with you or stock up on drinks at the store as well. This will ensure you are not always spending a small fortune on drinks whenever your child is thirsty.
4. Split a Meal
Most restaurants have super-sized portions when it comes to the meals that they serve, so you may want to consider splitting a meal if you are traveling with small children. Either two or more kids can split a meal, to really save you some money, or you can simply split a meal with your child.
The good news is that if everyone is still hungry after the meal is gone, you can always order something else or simply supplement their hunger with snacks that you already purchased.
5. Look for Coupons or Specials at Restaurants
Some restaurants offer kids eat free nights or other special pricing offers on meals throughout the week and to save the most money, you will want to take advantage of them all as much as possible. Groupon is another fabulous place to look for restaurant deals, and it is a good option if you want to try a lot of the local favorites.
This will definitely take a little research and preplanning on your part, but the time that you spend in advance will save you some cash later on! The best part is that you should always know where and what you will be eating for your meals throughout your vacation. That means you will not be making any last-minute decisions that could cost you even more.
6. Take Snacks for the Plane Ride
You may think that you can survive without food until you reach your destination and can get to the grocery store, but I can definitely say that hungry kids are hangry kids!
Take some snacks with you for the plane and maybe even take a few extras to avoid those meltdowns that occur when the favorites run out. Plus, they will be helpful if you end up delayed and you arrive later than planned.
7. Take a Few Kitchen Items with You
Once you arrive at your destination and have some food, you are going to find that it is not easy to prepare some of it without a few items from home. A cutting board of some type can be helpful for preparing sandwiches on and silverware is usually necessary as well. If you do not want to bring too much or don’t want to lug it all back and forth, some paper plates and plastic cutlery are always good options.
Then you can toss as you go. If you are planning on cooking, then you might also find that a few spices from home are the best way to serve the meals that you want without needing to buy all new spices at your destination.
8. Choose Picnics or Farmer’s Markets Finds for Dinner
If you are visiting an area where the weather is gorgeous, then choose to enjoy a picnic lunch or farmer’s market finds for dinner instead of lunch.
This way, you can eat out at a restaurant for lunch when it is cheaper if you want to and then enjoy a much cheaper meal for dinnertime. You will be amazed at how full you can get when you purchase a loaf of bread, some cheese, fresh fruit, and whole bunch of other picnic friendly foods.
9. Use Credit Card Points to Purchase Gift Cards
If you are a responsible credit card user, you may find that you can rack up some credit card points by simply charging everything that you purchase each month and paying it right off. You can then use those points for gift cards to restaurants that you can eat at on vacation. While this will not just save you money on food for your kids, it is an excellent way to save money on feeding everyone!
And if your credit card offers free airport lounge access, you should take advantage of this and eat some of your meals while on transit at the airport if the timing is right. This not only saves you money on food and drinks, but also gives you a comfortable lounge to relax in while waiting for your next flight.
These are nine ways to save money on food when traveling with kids, but I am sure that you can think of many others if you use your imagination. And there are plenty of ways to save money on your entire trip with your family. Think of saving money on a trip as a game and get your kids involved if they are old enough to see who can find the best ways to save money on food during your next vacation!