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TIPS & TRICKS

How to Keep Your Food Budget Under Control on Vacation

It's no secret that traveling can be expensive. Between hotels, transportation, attractions and activities, it's easy to blow through your travel budget in a hurry. However, one of the biggest expenses is something you may not have even considered: food. Keeping everyone happy and full can cost a pretty penny, especially if you've got a whole family of hungry mouths to feed. Fortunately, there's no need to break the bank. Follow these simple tips and you can take a small bite out of your food budget while traveling, without having to starve or pass up your favorite meals.

Build a Budget

Call it common sense, but it's hard to stay within your food budget if you haven't actually created one. Before you leave for your grand adventure, set aside a few minutes to establish a budget. Whether you have a strict spending limit or a more flexible goal in mind, settling on a specific figure will help you keep your spending on track without compromising your vacation experience. It'll also allow you to plan for special activities like a night out at an upscale restaurant.

grocery budget list
Photo by The Budget Mom

Cash in on Coupons

The power of coupons can never be overstated. You probably already use these handy, cash-saving deals to feed your family at home, so why should it be any different on the road? First and foremost, take some time to prepare before you ever leave home. Scout around to find some restaurants near your destination that you might be interested in visiting, make yourself a list and then go hunting! Browse each restaurant's website for coupons and deals, check out the Entertainment Book for the city you plan to visit and don't forget to take a look at Groupon and other online coupon sites as well. Just remember that most coupons have expiration dates, so be sure to check them before you head out for a meal

pile of coupons
Photo by http://www.savvyseller.co/tag/coupons/

Live Like a Local

While it can be a blast to check out all the tourist hot spots while you're on vacation, bear in mind that most popular restaurants and attractions also come with inflated prices. When it comes to eating out as a traveler, there's something to be said for living like the locals do. People who've lived in the area for years typically know where to find the best deals on food—and a good many other things—so don't be afraid to ask around. Consulting locals is also a good way to find hidden gems that you might otherwise have never tried. Some of the best food comes from little hole-in-the-wall eateries, and asking around gives you a chance to soak in the local flavor.

farmer's market
Photo located at http://seasidesundays.com/30-ways-to-save-on-groceries/

Dine in

Part of the appeal of traveling is getting away from the responsibility of cooking, but if you're willing to put together a few meals while you're on vacation, you can really save some cash. Home-cooked meals are almost always cheaper than visiting a restaurant, so consider looking for a hotel with a full kitchen and dining room. Villas like those at Welk Resorts come complete with fully-equipped kitchen facilities that provide everything you need to create affordable, high-quality meals while you're enjoying your vacation. Simply take a trip to the local grocery store, stock up on your supplies and watch the savings pile up. Another option is to order Villa Chef at Welk Resorts San Diego—a pre-prepped dinner in a box that you simply chop up and cook as instructed. You can whip up a scrumptious dinner in your villa and become your family’s personal celebrity chef!

Kitchen at Welk Resorts Northstar

Free Food Is the Best Food

They say there's no such thing as a free lunch, but that isn't exactly true—at least for children. Many restaurants offer free or steeply discounted meals for kids, especially during lunch hours. Spend a little time locating these restaurants and you can make a serious dent in your food budget, especially if you've got a whole tribe of mouths to feed. Many hotels and resorts also offer complimentary breakfasts included in the price of your room, allowing you to eliminate even more food expenses. You may not be eating four-star cuisine, but every dollar you save on food is a dollar you can spend on having fun. Finally, if you're vacationing to celebrate a special event like a birthday or anniversary, don't be afraid to mention it. You may be able to score some free treats or other perks!

Girl eating frozen yogurt
Photo located at https://www.thespruce.com/restaurants-where-kids-eat-free-2997423

Hit the Streets

Depending on where you're vacationing, you may find some of the best—and cheapest—food around is simple street food. Street vendors are known for selling all sorts of tasty, filling eats on the cheap, and these convenient food shops are also a great way to sample the local cuisine. Of course, street vendors are also a bit riskier than traditional restaurants. Your best bet is to stick with vendors who seem to be doing brisk business, and be sure to sneak a peek at the condition of their cart or kiosk. If it doesn't look clean and well-kept, it may be best to steer clear.

Street vendor in Paris
Photo by The Style Line

Load up at Lunch

Most people traditionally eat their largest meal at dinner, and restaurants are well aware of this. As a result, dinner menu prices are often more expensive than lunch menus, even for the exact same meals. You can take advantage of this fact by eating a larger meal at lunch and downsizing your dinner. In fact, you may even save enough money to pay for another after-dinner snack if you feel so inclined. You can apply the same approach to breakfast if you're a family of early birds, but be aware that large breakfast meals may be harder to find in some places.

family eating
Photo located at https://momfabulous.com/2017/02/spring-staycation-ideas/

Though costs vary greatly depending on a whole host of factors, estimates typically place daily food expenses for domestic vacations at $100 to $150 per day for a family of four. International vacations may be even more costly. That's a whole lot of cash, but it need not be so expensive to stay fed while you're on vacation. If you're planning to embark on a well-earned adventure, take advantage of the tips above and check out the affordable, fully-equipped villas at Welk Resorts San Diego!

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