10 ways to save when feeding a family on the road

Written by admin on April 24, 2009 – 5:58 pm -

You’re traveling with hungry kids whose stomachs aren’t precisely timed to breakfast, lunch and dinner. They’re hungry whenever, and frequently, at inopportune times.

Here are some suggestions as how to return home from your vacation with some coin in your pocket. Remember, fast food isn’t free food; anything but.

Go inclusive: Take an all-inclusive vacation where food’s available for the asking. Many cruises offer nearly non-stop meals and appear to have on-going buffets. All-inclusive resorts do the same.

Breakfast is important: If you’re not renting an apartment, stay at hotels where breakfast is included. Instruct the kids to get a good start on the day and bulk up. Most hotel staff members are gracious and agree (if you ask) to give you extra fruit to take with you as you embark on the days’ excursions. Do request a refrigerator be in the room.

Carry snacks: Never leave your lodgings without a stash of power bars and drinks. Some people visit Costco or other bulk chain stores and stuff the corners of their suitcases with these high protein snacks.

Go fixed-price, or free for kids: Surf the Internet and see which restaurants offer fix-priced lunches, early-bird specials and free meals for kids.

Clip coupons: Many restaurants offer discount coupons. They may be accessible on the Web. Or inquire at your hotel, check the local papers and the town’s Chamber of Commerce.

Snap up happy-hour specials: Some bars lure people in during happy hours when they serve more than adequate food and reduced priced drinks. Just because your charges are underage, doesn’t mean they can’t have yummy non-alcoholic drinks and eat at the same time.

Plan a picnic: It goes without saying that picnics are godsends and hotels (especially in the U.S.) are generous when it comes to allowing you to fill a Styrofoam chest with ice. Go to the local grocery store and buy all the makings for a picnic. During nice weather, it can be a wonderful way to eat and enjoy nature simultaneously.

Fabulous fruit: Eat a piece of fruit before your stomach screams empty. Grocery stores have plenty and if you happen to be at a local market in Europe at closing, many vendors sell at a big discount, rather than having to pack them up.

All you can eat: Look for restaurants (and many of them are “ethnic”) that offer refills. Moroccan restaurants frequently keep bringing out trays of couscous until you’ve had more than your fill.

Street food: Some of the best food (and most reasonably priced) is found in street markets where locals eat. There are certain rules that must be followed to avoid possible Montezuma’s revenge.

• Never drink the water (or any drink) unless it’s come from a bottle that’s been completely sealed. Use straws rather than drinking directly out of the bottle.

• Eat food only if you watch it being cooked and the hotter the pan, the better. A discerning eye can spot how sanitary the conditions are and it’s important to be careful. It’s amazing what foods children will try and more than likely enjoy it.

• Use sanitized hand wipes before and after eating.

If this sounds risky, remember your kids are probably eating more dangerous food when they’re munching on hotdogs purchased at school bazaars.

What suggestions do you have for stretching your food budget when vacationing?

Karen Fawcett is president of BonjourParis.

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Posted in Consumer Traveler |