October 15, 2018

How to Score Vacation Food at Affordable Prices

I usually manage to eat well for less wherever I go. While this is definitely easier at some destinations than others, a few standard strategies typically serve me well.

Hit the Streets:

The old souk in Kuwait City is one of my favorite places in the Middle East to score great †shawarma, seasoned nuts and koshary, an affordable Egyptian dish made with brown lentils and pasta. The street stalls in Amman, Jordan can always be counted on for a mean falafel, while the curbside bakeries in Beaune, France serve phenomenal quiche thatís perfect for snacking on while you take a break on a park bench. Money saved on a meal out can be redirected towards a world-class wine tasting experience at the Marchť aux Vins.

Breakfast is Always a Bargain:

Going out to breakfast is always one of the more affordable options for dining out, particularly here in the United States. So if youíre camping or not staying at an establishment that includes breakfast, searching out a pancake house or local diner is a great way to kick hunger to the curb while you figure out your food options for the rest of the day.

Lunch is Cheap Too:

Look, I love to go out for a nice dinner as much as the next person. However, that doesnít change the fact that most restaurants have radically different prices for their lunch menu than they offer during dinner hours. So if youíve been dying to check out the seafood tacos at that little bistro by the bay, heading there at noon is likely your best budget bet.

Deals and Steals:

Many popular chain restaurants offer killer coupons to entice penny pinchers during peak travel season. Olive Garden and Red Lobster come immediately to mind, but there are others. While I like to try out local options when staying in a new place for a period of time, I have to come clean. When Iím on the road moving at a breakneck speed, relying heavily on franchise chains that Iím familiar with is one of my top survival strategies.

Groupon: Get the Best Deal in New York Today!

When it comes to coupons for takeout food you can bring to your hotel room, Boston Market, Pizza Hut and Dominoes are three of the biggest coupon contributors youíll find. I especially like that pizza takeout and delivery establishments offer some of the easiest ways to eat vegetarian on the road, even if the brand tends to be more focused on meat. For those attempting vegan travel, you could always leave the cheese off of your pizza order or try the cheese-less breadsticks with marinara sauce and a side salad.

Food For A Fraction Of The Cost

For across the board savings at your chosen destination, explore the local options available with Groupon or Restaurant.com. Youíll be able to sample local flavor and still save some serious cash, provided the establishments suit your tastes and travel itinerary.

Supermarket Menus:

Youíll find them near most gas stations and shopping malls in North America. From ramen recipes you can make in the hotel to healthy road trip snacks and sandwich press selections, incorporating supermarket shopping trips is part and parcel of the affordable †family travel experience. Hummus and sliced artisan bread paired with green salad, veggie dogs in hot dog rolls with organic relish and microwaved Morning Star Farms buffalo chicken tenders with dipping sauce make our list of family faves, but there are certainly many other simple solutions to suit a wide range of palate preferences.

Hotel Freebies:

Breakfast buffets, loyalty lounges with complimentary happy hour selections and light evening meal selections are all on the list of hotel freebies Iíve enjoyed on the road. Knowing what your hotel offers ahead of time will help you plan your vacation food expenditures accordingly. Even less expensive hotels tend to offer a hospitality bar featuring coffee and tea, which is a great no-cost way to warm up when traveling during cold-weather months.

Airport Lounges:

Hitting the hotel happy hour isnít the only way to score free travel food. Memberships to Priority Pass Lounges frequently include access to wine and spirit selections, light meals and snacks, free Wi Fi and even napping areas. The chairs are always more comfortable than the ones at the gate, and itís usually much quieter in these lounges as well.

Food Vouchers:

When flight delays derail your itinerary, check with airlineís main desk to see if they are willing to offer meal vouchers. Itís a common enough practice when delays cause you to wait through meal hours, and while the amount isnít likely to cover a full sit-down meal at the concourse restaurant, you can usually manage to pick up an egg roll with veggie-fried rice at the food court, or a selection of nuts and dried fruit at the sundries store. Tea and fruit from one of the sandwich carts is another favorite solution I like to use, as it gives me something warm to drink right away and lets me pack away another option in case thereís a second departure postponement.

Heritage Restaurants:

Iím talking about those establishments that all the locals know about. You know, the ones that have been in the family for years? These ones usually donít make the guidebooks, but are frequented by locals who know great quality and value when they experience it. One such gem is El Convento, near Italyís Lake Garda. It has superior atmosphere, and offers great Italian grub at a value-oriented price point.

All-Inclusive Vacation Packages:

Resorts and Cruises are the usual options when searching out all-inclusive vacation packages, as they are in a unique position to offer a variety of food and beverage options under one roof. If you find a price that works for you in a destination youíve been dreaming about, then this is definitely an option for enjoying a bit of luxury for less cash than you otherwise might spend. Sandals is one chain that offers this type of arrangement, and they have a number of locations suitable for couples in search of a romantic getaway.

We all want to relax and have a great time while weíre on vacation. Having a strong repertoire of cost-control strategies for meal costs is one way to reduce stress and keep budget concerns at bay.

Photo Credit: Tara Angkor Hotel