Saving Money on Travel Part 5 – Food


Once you leave your home to travel to your destination, you are faced with another travel expense – food and snacks. If you travel by airplane or car, you can make or break your travel budget with how you handle food and snack purchases. Here are some tips to stretch your food budget while you travel.

  • If you travel by car, be sure to leave enough room for a cooler to include snack items and drinks, including water. Each water bottle at a convenience store usually costs $1-$2 while you can usually purchase a 24 pack before your trip for $3-$4.
  • If you travel by airplane, you can not take bottled water or pop through security. You can take snacks like fruit, granola bars, crackers and other snack items to enjoy during the flight. This can help you avoid expensive airport food and give the kids something to distract them during the flight.  
  • If you prefer the “green” alternative to bottles water, many stores now sell reusable water bottles with filters that you can be refilled anywhere.
  • If you plan to visit any attractions or amusement parks during your trip, be sure to pack a soft cooler or backpack in your luggage or car. Many parks including DisneyLandDisneyWorld, Sea World, San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park and many others, allow you to bring bottled water, pop and light snacks into the park. Individual park policy does vary so be sure you check with your park before your trip to be sure that coolers and backpacks are still allowed. This is a great way to save a lot of money on your trip.

Tip: If you have a freezer at your hotel, I like to freeze a couple of the bottles of water to provide ice for the cooler or backpack, plus later in the day you can enjoy a cool beverage.

  • Choose hotels that include a free continental breakfast when possible. This will save a family of 4 around $20 per day.
  • If you have a refrigerator at your hotel, stop at a local grocery store and pick up water, soda pop, snacks and breakfast items. This can usually save the average family $30 or more per day.
  • Most restaurants offer huge meals that can be easily split between several people. This is especially nice when traveling since you often do not have a way to store left overs.
  • Avoid expensive drinks when possible. Many restaurants now charge $3 per soda pop which can add up to any extra $12 for a family of 4. Ask for a glass of water which will also keep you hydrated.

If you love soda pop like I do, I will often take these beverages with me to the park to enjoy at less than 50 cents or less per bottle or can.

  • I always order an Entertainment Book before I travel to a destination. Entertainment books offer buy one get one free meals and other discounts that can save you money on food. You can save money on Entertainment books by looking for specials or signing up through Ebates or ShopatHome which both offer special pricing and cash back on your purchases plus a $5 sign up bonus for new members. Once you sign up you can log in to Ebates or ShopatHome and purchase your Entertainment Book.
  • I also buy Restaurant.com certificates for my destination city. For example if I was traveling to Las Vegas and staying on the strip, I would go to Restaurant.com and search for restaurants on or near the strip (Las Vegas Blvd). I usually wait for a sale on these certificates so I can buy a $25 certificate for $2 or $3. These certificates will require a minimum purchase like $35 then they will deduct the $25 certificate plus add tip. Be sure to check my site for the most current discount code!

Are you new to restaurant.com, then learn more about how the program works HERE. These certificates save me money plus help me try new restaurants in an area.

  • Look through the handy restaurant guides provided at many hotels. We found the restaurant in my photo during a recent trip to San Diego and enjoyed great food and a fun photo opportunity in this restaurant where a scene from Top Gun was filmed.
  • If you plan to spend multiple days at a Disney Park, look for packages that include a discounted meal plan. A basic burger in Disneyland can cost $8 so over the course of your trip, food can eat up a large part of your budget. You can also pack luncghes or eat many of your meals at restaurants outside the park.

These are just a few of my favorite ways to spend money on food when we travel. If you any tips, share them with us by leaving a comment!

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