Dining While Traveling: Costs and Considerations
Updated: Feb 14
Ask any traveler their favorite part of visiting a new place, and the majority will give you one answer: the food. In the past hundred years, cultural exploration via local cuisine has taken off as a focal point when exploring a new destination. These days you can try cantuccini, gelato, and other flavors on a 10-stop tasting in Florence. Or if you’re into the spicier side of things, learn to cook an authentic Bengali meal in a private home in Mumbai. The options are truly endless.
But when it comes to eating in a destination, dining out can take a large chunk out of your vacation budget. Even if you’re not a Michelin-star-kind-of-traveler, simply eating “out” can add up quickly. Here’s food for thought: a four-day vacation in the U.S. can easily cost you $160 or more per person on just food and drinks. And that’s not even factoring in other costs like tips and delivery fees. When planning a trip, make sure you’re not caught off-guard by the cost of food and drinks. Planning ahead with a budget in mind is always ideal. On a recent trip to the beach, some of my clients purchased breakfast cereal, bread, and lunch meat to keep in their hotel fridge so they didn’t have to spend money on restaurants 3 times a day. They budgeted to eat out for dinner each night and were able to keep their spending in check. Planning ahead with an approach like this can easily save you hundreds of dollars!
Where to Eat
A dinner at NYC’s famous sushi bar Nobu will obviously cost more than a hot dog from a local food truck. Planning your meals in advance on vacation can make a huge difference in how you manage your travel budget. But planning ahead doesn’t have to mean no spontaneity! After all, one of the joys of travel is exploring new places without always needing to keep on a strict schedule or plan. A good rule of thumb is to eat light and cheap for breakfast and lunch and to plan for finer dining experiences in the evenings. Your plan might look something like this: • Monday - breakfast at a restaurant, fast food burgers for lunch, trail mix for a snack, and dinner at a restaurant • Tuesday: breakfast at the hotel, sandwiches for lunch, gas station hot dogs for dinner on the go And don’t forget that if you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen or kitchenette, you can save a lot of money by buying groceries from a local store, rather than eating out for every single meal.
Estimate the Cost of Each Item
Make an estimated cost for each item on your list. For example, if you’re planning to eat breakfast at a local restaurant, look up the menu ahead of time to get an idea of costs. With technology at our fingertips, there’s no reason to be caught off guard!
Set Aside Money for Snacks and Impromptu Purchases
Be sure to set aside money in your budget for extra snacks and unplanned purchases. It’s easy to go through bags of jerky, trail mix, chips, chocolate, crackers and candy quickly when you’re on the road, especially if you’re traveling with kids. And keep in mind that you’ll probably want to try interesting items in your destination. Are you dying to try those wasabi KitKat bars in Tokyo? Make sure there’s a little extra room in your budget so you don’t have to say “no” to fun purchases like this!
Consider the Cost of Drinks
Always budget extra money for drinks! If you can’t go without your daily Starbucks, even while traveling, factor in the cost of your daily cup of joe. You should also expect to buy plenty of juice, bottles of water, and other non-caffeinated drinks that will help you stay hydrated during your vacation. And if you enjoy the finer things in life, factor in the cost of wine, top-shelf liquor, and cocktails too!
And Don’t Forget Extra Meals
Factor in the price of a few extra meals in your food budget - just in case. Your hotel may offer free breakfast, but you might end up sleeping too late to partake. Or you may stumble upon a restaurant that you’re dying to try, but that’s a little pricier than you’d planned for. Have you ever heard the old saying, “Pack your bags - then take out half the clothes and add twice the money”? It’s absolutely true!
If you’re ready to plan the trip of a lifetime - complete with plenty of exotic food adventures - contact me for a complimentary planning session!
IS A GOLF COURSE AN EXCELLENT TRAVEL DESTINATION?
Are you planning a vacation with your buddies? Don’t break a sweat worrying about where to go. Vacation should be fun! Have you thought of going on a golf-themed cruise? You have the opportunity to choose the course that best fits your experience. Some courses are challenging to play on. If your group are professionals; then, that’s no problem. But if you have novices in your group, it’s best to pick something smaller that everyone can play on. Do you want to go on a golf trip? Let’s talk.
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