Everyday on vacation that we pack a lunch, our family saves over $50. Some people think this is a hassle and don’t want to be bothered, but if you’re trying hard to stretch your budget to afford a vacation…pack a lunch!
It’s not that our family is so cheap that we don’t splurge now and again…it’s just that we can’t do it every meal – every day. Most places have a free breakfast, and if they don’t, breakfast can be easily covered with a bag of bagels, a box of cereal, or even a granola bar and piece of fruit. Dinner is a meal where it’s fun to sit down, relax, and re-live the day’s adventure…which leaves that mid-day meal: Lunch.
If you plan ahead and pack the right few items, lunch on-the-go will save you time and money. Most lunch stops / restaurants are fast and fatty foods that will pull you away from the day’s attractions and make you feel like a beached whale when you’re done. A backpack, loaf of bread, water bottles, jar of peanut butter, and a bag of chips or box of cookies can keep everyone going through the middle of the day without missing a beat.
Another neat item that we’ve found and use quite often is a collapsible backpack soft cooler. It can hold 6 water bottles and a few ice packs with some outer pockets that can hold granola bars, fruits snacks or smaller items. These have come in real handy on many vacations.
We try hard to re-use water bottles multiple times before throwing them away. Throw a sharpie marker in your pack and put everyone’s initials on the cap and they’ll be easy to sort out. On one of our vacations, the heat was a real factor – We packed a container of Gatorade mix and funnel to mix up some sports drinks on-the-go (It’s very easy to find water fountains).
Another key money-saver: Cutback on the soda – save it for a special dinner or outing. A round of 6 sodas at dinner time could add $15-$20 depending on the restaurant. That’s absurd. Soda’s a nice treat, but have it every day with every meal and it will make a serious dent in your pocketbook. Personally, I’d rather spend that $20 on desserts!
Many people have an aversion to pack a lunch on vacation. I’ve heard, “This is my vacation…I’m not doing any work!” I can certainly relate to wanting a break, but how hard is it really? Our morning routine on vacations usually involves my wife & I having a cup of coffee, may be watching the weather, and spending 10-15 minutes preparing the backpack of lunch and snacks while mapping out the itinerary for the day…this is fun! There’s no real stress in that. Plus, it has also become a means to control what we eat a bit of healthy foods and avoid junk food, while saving the vacation’s budget for the things we really want to see & do the most.
Food tops the list of unplanned vacation costs that can take a big bite out of your wallet! By all means, splurge on a meal, here and there…and enjoy yourself. But if you’re a family on a budget, like us, and trying to make the numbers work in your favor…pack a lunch!