How to save on your next family vacation

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Taking a vacation can be a costly undertaking. Depending on where you’re going, you may need to pay for airline tickets, hotels, rental cars, cabs, and exchange fees – and that’s before you even start enjoying your actual destination. Since the upfront costs of a vacation can be so large, especially if you have a larger family, many people find themselves keeping a strict budget whenever they get where they’re going.

traveling by car

However, keeping such a strict budget can detract from your overall vacation experience. A great way to still enjoy your vacation while not overspending is to limit your food budget. For a family of four, eating out for every meal can easily add several hundred dollars onto a vacation budget so if you want to be able to see and do all that you can, consider giving some of the following a try to save on food costs:

Look for Kitchens

When planning your trip, look for hotels and other vacation residences that can offer you a kitchen, or at least a “mini-kitchen” with a fridge and a stove top. While no mom wants to think about cooking every night on a family vacation, having such a feature gives you greater latitude to cook your own meals and less of an excuse to go out to a restaurant every night.

eating in the room

Although many people assume that kitchens are only accessible for those who rent expensive hotel suites or vacation condos, many lower-end hotels offer public kitchens that are open for use to all guests.

Shop Like a Local

No matter where you’re going, there’s likely to be a local population that lives there year-round – and, just as likely, spends less on food than the average vacationer. With this in mind, acting like a local can help you drastically reduce your costs.

Rather than taking the family to the hotel restaurant and buying a burger for lunch, head to the local supermarket or corner store and buy bread, cheese, and any other products to make a sandwich. Even if you don’t have a kitchen, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to cheaply buy and easily make sandwiches for the duration of your trip.

Pack A Snack

For many people, however, some of the largest food expenses during a vacation come while they are in transit. Whether you’re driving in your car or flying between airports, the food offered along the way is likely unsatisfying and overpriced. If you have children in tow, after all, you may be surprised to see how much you spend on food at the airport.

To combat this needless expense, make sure to pack a snack before leaving. At the beginning of the trip, you can do this in your own home and with your own food. At the end it’s a bit more challenging, but as mentioned above, it’s rarely difficult to find a local grocer and purchase some sandwich ingredients.

Wherever you’re going on your next vacation, have an enjoyable, relaxing, and budget-friendly time, and be sure to also check out a travel blogger or two who is focusing on your destination prior to going. You may be surprised by the insight they have to offer. And, just remember: saving on food costs can improve that last attribute without ruining either of the first two.

How do you save on your family vacations and trips? Yep, we’re headed out again this summer, too, so any tips will be appreciated.


THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. I MAY EARN FROM QUALIFYING PURCHASES.

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19 Comments

  1. We found that for a family of our size, it truly is cheaper (and easier) to rent a vacation house. Six people in a hotel for a week works out to about the same price as a rental house and we are more comfortable, can do our own laundry, and can cook for ourselves (therefore saving on food).

    1. So true! And, so much more comfortable. We are doing a vacation house for one of our trips, and staying with family (I’m sure they will be over us by the end of our trip) to save money!

  2. Some hotels offer a food package. Last summer we stayed in a great place at Myrtle Beach; breakfast and dinner at the hotel restaurant were included in the price of our room so the only meal we had to worry about was lunch. And it is easy to do lunch cheap! 😉

    1. We’re good about finding the free breakfast places, but dinner? That’s a nice idea.

  3. Anti-Supermom says:

    This makes me want a vacation, and soon… sigh. But we tend to *have* to have a two bedroom because no one gets any good sleep if we are in the same room, but just like you said, those rooms usually have kitchens too.

    And I don’t mind heating something up, it’s making a meal that would make me feel like I’m no longer on vacation 😉

    1. Oh, yes, we need two rooms, too. I’ve discovered a “suite” to most hotels means there is a half wall between the bed and the sofa sleeper..no dice!

  4. I always look for a hotel etc. that has a kitchen. Not only is it more cost effective but easier then having to run out and get food or being worried that if you have to go out that the kids will eat. Also I tend to look for family packages where they offer discounts or meal plans, they tend to a least save you some money.

    1. As much as I’d like to take off cooking, going out to eat with three kids is more work! I’m all for the kitchens.

  5. Bekah Kuczenski says:

    Making your own meals is a huge money saver!

  6. I bring an empty water bottle to fill at a drinking fountain so I dont have to buy the way over priced water.

  7. When I was a kid my parents would always stop at the grocery store where we were vacationing to pick up lunch. It’s a lot cheaper to do it that way. We also never bought ice cream at the little boutiques and stores because it is so expensive. Instead we would stop at the grocery store once and buy a big tub of ice cream to share. My sister and I thought it was great since it was the only time we were ever allowed to eat as much ice cream as we wanted (we were camping, no fridge/freezer so what didn’t get eaten had to be tossed.

  8. Lindsay C. says:

    We used to save money by going during non-peak vacation time when I was young. Thanks for the great ways to save some money. I’m going to keep an eye out for any other tips you receive. We need to find ways to save when we’re thinking of taking our family vacation.

  9. We also like finding unconventional destinations or traveling in off peak seasons. Not only does it save money, but there are fewer crowds.

  10. Good list! I definitely agree with you on packing a snack. By doing that, you won’t be as likely to spend 2-3 times the amount on the same thing.

  11. Jeremy@Hotels Donegal Town says:

    It is always exciting to travel with family, and you can make traveling even more beautiful if you can modify it according to your suitability. A little planning would save any possible trouble you might face during traveling.

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