|Photo Credit Retroama|
When you are on vacation, eating out can be a large chunk of your budget. If you figure 4 people eating out 3 meals a day for 5-7 days, you can easily spend upwards of $400.
But when you are on a shoestring budget of $500 for your entire trip you may feel as if there is no way to make this work.
Don't fret, it just takes a little research and planning.
What I like to do is deduct all of my fixed expenses from my budget. Those include, transportation, hotel and baggage fees. Then I take the remainder and guesstimate how much I will need for things like souvenirs and outings.
After all of these deductions I can see how much I have to work with for food. Don't panic if your numbers is low. You can do your best to work with it and if it's just not possible you can adjust another area to put more money into the food budget.
Let's use my friend's upcoming 5 night/6 day trip to Williamsburg.
She can easily get a nice souvenir for each person for $10 each.
She has $173 left for food. Her hotel has free breakfast, which is one of the best things to do when you are on a tight budget. So that eliminates having to pay for one meal a day for 6 days. That means she has to figure out how to feed all 4 of them for lunch and dinner for 6 days. If you do a quick breakdown, that comes out to $43.25 per person for the entire vacation.
It doesn't seem like near enough but she will be fine if she does the following.
- Bring snacks from home (since she is driving)
- Buy gift certificates on restaurant.com
- Grab a few extra pieces of fruit from breakfast
- Use the power of Walmart
You can easily get low cost gift certificates on restaurant.com, just be sure to read the fine print and do not purchase unless you have a coupon code. I just popped over and today you can get a $25 gift certificate for only $6, which is $4 less than the usual $10 they charge. Always keep an eye out since they've been known to discount up to 90% meaning you get a $25 GC for only $1.
I always grab a couple of apples or an extra yogurt from breakfast, no need to only eat fatty foods when you're away, even if they are super yummy.
When you are on a super tight budget you can grab a rotisserie chicken with a couple of sides at Walmart, usually for half the price of KFC, about $12. You should also buy some cold cuts and bread (if your room has a fridge) or cans of soup and chef boyaredee. These are inexpensive and quick lunches and usually cost $1 a can.
With breakfast taken care of if she spends $40 on cold cuts, bread and soups/pastas, drinks and the like she will have lunches covered as well leaving her with $133 for dinners. If they eat 3 walmart dinners for a total of $36, she will have $97 left and with a discounted Restaurant.com coupon she can take them all to a nice sit down dinner on their last night on vacation and even with tip she will only be spending another $40 or so (if she chooses the right eatery). And she will have $57 left over in her food budget.
She can use that money to either eat out for lunch a couple of times or to take the kids to a movie or to play mini golf.
Now that you see how easily you can get all of your meals covered, you see that what seemed like a sad and ridiculous amount of money is actually more than enough and you don't have to do one fast food join if you don't want.
Not too shabby.