The Best Budget Travel Tip I Ever Learned

by Kay Lynn

This Yakezie Blog Swap post is from Hank Coleman who writes about money and investing on his blog, Money Q&A. Be sure to check out my post on his site.

One of the best budget travel tip that I ever learned was to skip the restaurants and head to the grocery store to save money while on vacation. The three biggest travel expenses people face while on vacation are typically the transportation to the location, where you will sleep, and the cost of food while you are there. Food can quickly burn a hole through your pocket when you are on vacation or traveling for business if you are not careful. But, there are several ways that you can save money on the cost of your food bill while still enjoying yourself while you travel. You may even be able to experience something unique in the process.

I ate what?!

Skipping Eating Out At Restaurants

Just like when you are at home, not eating at restaurants is a great way to save money while you are traveling on a budget. Traveling is expensive no matter how you cut it, but you can save a lot of money when you do not eat at restaurants during your trip. Stay in at your hotel room and eat there. You may be able to find a room with a kitchenette that is not much more expensive than a regular hotel room. If you are going to be there for a while, you may even want to consider a long-term extended stay hotel where you can find a lot of savings on food and other everyday expenses.

Experience The Locals At The Grocery Store

Do you want to be the typical tourist and visit the city’s sites like everyone else? Or, do you want to try and find out what it is truly like to be a citizen of that city or even that country if you are abroad. Going to the local grocery store makes you explore your surrounding area. This may be an even bigger deal when you travel overseas. I know that there have been times when I have been a tourist but could have gotten so much more out of the experience if I had just tried to act a little more like a local instead of an actual traditional tourist. I would have gotten so much more out of the experience in addition to saving money at the same time.

Bring Your Food From Home

You may even want to consider simply bringing your food with you from home if you are able to do so. Of course this will not work if you are flying to your vacation destination. But, if you are driving to the beach, for example, then bringing food from your own refrigerator can help you save a bundle. This is a very simple way to help you save money while you are traveling.

Going to the grocery store and not eating out in restaurants can help you save a fortune while you are traveling, and it may also open up some unique opportunities as well. Shopping where locals shop or even going to the local grocery store can be a great experience that you will remember forever making your trip that much more enriching.

Have you ever done things like this? What is your best way to save money on food while traveling?

photo by pasukaru76

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Jai Catalano February 10, 2012 at 7:21 am

I have grocery shopped on vacation before. Unless I want to dine out I always liked to save the money and make the stuff I want to eat.

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Hack @ Smart Money Hacks February 10, 2012 at 7:32 am

My wife doesn’t like to eat leftover restaurant food, but I think it’s an awesome lunch for the next day. It works great because I don’t have to fight anyone to bring the leftovers to work 🙂

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krantcents February 10, 2012 at 8:19 am

For years, when we rented a house on the beach, we would take food and/or buy food for our two weeks. We usually rented the house with friends so the children had friends and we shared the food.

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John | Married (with Debt) February 10, 2012 at 10:01 am

I have used this tip before, in Budapest. We got cheaper beer, better food because we cooked it ourselves, and learned a bit about the neighborhood. Grocery stores are a great way to get a quick lesson in what the locals are really like.

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Max February 10, 2012 at 3:29 pm

My mom used to always shop at local grocery stores for food when we were traveling and make sandwiches and other quick meals. She would pack a cooler as well for road trips and fill it with snacks from home. I’ll definitely hit the local grocery store when on vacation, just to have some extra food at the hotel room. Sometimes, going out to eat at restaurants and experiencing the local cuisine is part of the vacation experience, so I don’t always want to avoid restaurants altogether, but it’s definitely a good way to save money by not eating out for every meal when you travel.

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Melissa@PersonalFinanceJourney February 11, 2012 at 7:23 am

We used to spend a fortune on eating out when we traveled, but now three of us have dairy and soy intolerances, so our ability to eat out is limited. We pack our own food in a cooler and make sure to stay at a hotel that has a small kitchenette and we eat in. It is amazing how much cheaper our vacations are now!

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SB @ One Cent At A Time February 11, 2012 at 1:33 pm

I think I am the only exception here who thinks that tasting local food is an important part of my travel, not venturing in to local grocer.

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Jackie February 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm

We often rent apartments when we travel. It’s especially nice because they are usually in normal neighborhoods, and the owner provides tips on local things to do. (Plus of course you can grocery shop and then cook 1-2 meals a day in the apartment.)

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Marissa @ Thirty Six Months February 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm

I’m a hostel girl when we travel with friends. Its the best place to meet new people and venture onto new places and adventures.

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Andrew February 12, 2012 at 10:17 pm

We do the same thing. We still go out a night or two, but generally understand that buying groceries can be frugal and fun!

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Paul @ The Frugal Toad February 13, 2012 at 5:18 am

Great tips! We try to eat breakfast in the room before we go out for the day. Bagels and cream cheese, fruit, and cereal work best for us. We use the money we save to do something fun!

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Mandy February 13, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Buying/packing snacks to have on hand was always a huge dollar saver when the kids were little. It also had the advantage of being super convenient … kids are hungry, you can stop anywhere for them to have a bite and a drink and be ready to go again.

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Rajasthan tour February 20, 2012 at 2:04 am

This is the best budget travel trip. I spend much more money on food while traveling or going for vacation. This post help me reduce my food expenses.

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