It’s vacation season and time for families to start travelling. We are a family of 8 and travelling with such a large group can get expensive if you’re not careful! When we decide to take a trip, we have to get creative in order to keep our expenses down. One way we do that is by figuring out ways to eat cheap. While your family may not be as big as mine, you can still use these ideas to save money while you’re on the road.
Pack drinks & snacks
We have found that we spend a whole lot less money when we pack a bag of fruit, some crackers and a case of water in the car. You have no need to stop at the expensive convenience store to buy food if you already have it in your car. In addition to just snacks, you could also pack full meals, like sandwiches and/or wraps if you know you’ll be travelling around meal time.
Utilize Dollar menus
Often, when we know that we will be gone for 2 meals, we will opt to find a fast food restaurant that has a $1 menu. While it’s tempting to buy the more expensive fare, you can be plenty satisfied for much less money. Sometimes, we’ll allow each person in the car to pick one item off of the dollar menu (like a sandwich) and then buy a bag of chips to supplement that meal. It’s a whole lot cheaper than buying each person their own sides to go with it.
We have found that many restaurants have coupons that they email to their subscribers. They also may have printable coupons that you can print without subscribing. Before a trip, I take the time to research the restaurants that are in the area we will be travelling. If they have an email club, I sign up for it, getting many different coupons by email. If it’s your birthday near the travel date, you’ll get loads of free meals. You can also buy The Entertainment book to find area specific coupons.
Kids Eat Free or discounted
Many restaurants offer Kids Eat Free deals with the purchase of an adult entree. In order to find out which restaurants in your area will be offering this, go to Google and do a search that says “Kids Eat Free [your town, state]”. You will likely find a place to eat each day of the week if you’re planning to be in a larger town. If you’re only planning to be in a smaller town, there still may be some chains that do offer this. You may want to do a search for your state instead, to get an idea of which chains do offer this, that way you’ll be well educated while you’re travelling.
Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables!
If you’re travelling and suddenly you start feeling weak, tired and grumpy, consider that maybe you’re not getting enough fruit and vegetables. Probably not enough water either. There are lots of restaurants that sell side salads on their dollar menu. Believe me, it’s worth it! Your body is craving the nutrients in order to be happy and healthy.
Split a Meal
Many restaurants put way too much food on your plate. Consider saving money by sharing a meal with your spouse and/or kids. You still get plenty to eat but for half the price!
I usually pack a bag with food and a small cooler with drinks and items that need to be kept cold. I will sometimes stop at a grocery store along the way instead of a restaurant. And don't forget to check out the grocery deli. The nice feature about the deli is that you can decide how much food you want and if you only want 1 piece of chicken and 1/2 of a scoop of salad you can just pay for that and no extra.