The biggest reason you might blow your vacation budget is also the easiest thing to control.
Tasty eats and idyllic restaurants are a key ingredient in most Americans dream vacation, but if you’re not careful it could run up your credit card in a hurry.
But if you follow these tips, you can get the tastiest travel eats without emptying your wallet.
Know Your Limits
Make a rule with yourself – set a dollar budget amount and look for local specials that are going to keep you within your budget.
Knowing what you have available to spend lets you prioritize where you want to splurge.
The seaside lobster might be a coastal visit “must-have,” so maybe that means cutting back on lunch or dessert.
Also, keep in mind that in some countries the price on the board doesn’t always reflect what you’re charged. So when picking a restaurant, aim for a price point that will keep you under-budget even if the bill ends up higher than advertised.
Eat Like a Local
One way to shrink your spending and still enjoy the local experience is to pick up produce at local markets.
If you booked a hotel with a small kitchen, you could whip up a quick meal for lunch or dinner with your finds.
But for the folks who would rather avoid cooking on their days off, even picking up a small jar of peanut butter or ranch dressing can turn almost any local produce into a quick and tasty snack.
Make the Most of This Hotel Perk
Most hotels offer free breakfasts, and by sleeping through it, you’re basically flushing money down the drain.
If delivering food to your room costs extra, then throw on a pair of slippers and make the hike to breakfast yourself. It’s well worth the trip!
You can even load up on your favorites and pack them away inside your room for later.
And who’s to say you can’t take a post-breakfast nap to catch up on that lost sleep?
Don’t Be the Typical Clueless Tourist
Steer clear of tourist trap cafés!
It’s best for your pocketbook to avoid the idyllic cafes and restaurants for your big meals. The owners know you’re there for the scenery just as much as the food – and they charge you for it.
To save money and enjoy the same experience, just buy a coffee or an appetizer and wait to eat your main course at a cheaper location.
Make Lunch Your “Hero” Meal
It’s a universal rule that restaurants charge less on lunch menus, and this is especially true in vacation hotspots.
Locals know that tourists are willing to spend big at dinner, while a pricey lunch menu might scare them off.
You can work this system to your advantage by eating your big meal of the day at lunch and leave your evening meal as a tide-over until breakfast.
A few minutes checking the prices online or calling around beforehand can pay out in huge savings.
Once you know which meals you want to splurge on, pick the best combo of good ratings and low prices that your pocketbook will allow.
By doing your research, you can take advantage of local restaurant specials and price drops. Be aware that most tourist towns have huge mark-ups on the weekends and holiday weekends. And the worst of these mark-ups are on alcoholic drinks and desserts at restaurants. If your budget is tight, you might want to buy your own drinks, or trade out your restaurant wine for a local beer.
If you’re in a group and don’t mind sharing, have everyone order a different appetizer in place of the high price entrees, then pass them around so everyone gets a taste of each dish.
And plan to eat some of your meal for lunch or a snack the next day. Ask for a takeout container to arrive with your meal and slide your lunch portion in first (so you don’t forget!).
So, how much do you think you could save on your next trip by putting our tips to work?
Do you have a different technique that saves you money abroad? Please share it with us!