Meals are a big part of a vacation budget, but with a little planning and discipline, it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker.

Here are a few suggestions to help you eat well without breaking the bank:

  1. Avoid the mini-bar.  No matter how hungry you are for a late night snack, there’s nothing worth the price in the mini-bar.
  2. Many hotels have in-room coffee makers and complimentary coffee.  Enjoy a cup while you’re getting ready in the morning, and eliminate the money spent at a coffee shop.  If you have a coffee maker, but the coffee packet isn’t complimentary, pick up a bag of coffee and filters at a nearby supermarket.  Scads cheaper!
  3. Buy snacks at the supermarket and take them with you throughout the day.  It’s much cheaper to pick up some fresh fruit, a bag of chips, or some cheese and crackers from a store, than to buy snacks at a nearby food stand.
  4. Buying soft drinks during the day can be expensive.  You’re going to need something to quench your thirst, so get everyone a bottle of water and keep refilling it during the trip.  Write names on the top so everyone knows what belongs to whom.
  5. If you’re traveling with a family, eating at family-friendly restaurants, keep a look out for specials and coupons.  You may find them at the front desk of your hotel or in an in-room magazines.  If you are a AAA member look for discounts that may be applicable to members.
  6. Take advantage of the children’s menu for the kids, and don’t be embarrassed to acknowledge your age if there’s a senior menu with special pricing.
  7. Cut back on alcohol in restaurants.  It’s adds a lot to the bill.  Ditto for soft drinks.  There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a little wine, but consider picking up a bottle of wine (much cheaper than in a restaurant) and enjoying it on the balcony of your hotel room.
  8. If you’re not terribly hungry, order an appetizer for your meal.  It will be just the right amount of food, and will save some money.
  9. Don’t order every course.  You don’t need an appetizer, salad, entree, and dessert for every meal.  Look at the menu and decide what you really want, and make that the center point of your meal.  If you are dying to try that fabulous dessert, try ordering just a salad for your meal.
  10. If you’re dying to try some HOT restaurant, stop by for dessert and coffee.  Sure, it will still be expensive, but if you consider it part of an evening’s entertainment, there will still be plenty of entertainment value.

Finally, don’t scrimp it’s a special occasion.  Cut corners and dollars elsewhere, and remember that very special occasion as just that – very special!

What are your tips for shaving a few dollars off your food and beverage budget during vacation?


Photo credit: flickr