Rising prices surely have many families rethinking their summer vacation plans. It might be too late for many of us to change reservations - and no one wants to cancel a long-anticipated vacation. But there are ways that you can save money when traveling, even when prices seem to be rising all over the place.
Where to start? The best place is to stop spending money on stuff you won't actually use. And the easiest way I have found to do that is... to order less when eating out.
At home, leftover food at a restaurant means a to-go bag and maybe lunch tomorrow. But on the road, leftover food on a plate is almost always wasted. Unless you have reached a destination where you are staying for several days, in a room with a decent-sized kitchen to refrigerate and reheat those leftovers, you're likely not going to be able to eat them. Which means you've wasted the money you just spent for that food.
When I am on the road with my family, we plan to share meals at every stop. American restaurant portions are huge, and we have found that we almost always can get by with splitting them. On travel days, when you are sitting in a car or plane almost all day, you probably aren't working up much of an appetite, anyway.
It's different on theme park days, when you are burning calories walking around the park for hours and hours. But even then, we start by splitting meals. If half a meal won't satisfy, that allows you the opportunity to try something else later as a snack. Ordering less not only allows to avoid wasting money on uneaten food, it can help you afford to experience more of what a park has to offer, if you end up needing more to eat.
And, as most parents can testify, little kids are awful judges of how much food they can eat. Order only what you know they will finish in this sitting.
Most of the time when I travel and visit theme parks these days, however, I am going solo. Even then, I try to save money by limiting what I order from restaurants. I go for the Ronto Wrap from Disney's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge or the Soup & Salad Combo from Universal's The Three Broomsticks instead of some big combo platter from other restaurants. Again, it's not a value to get more food for the same or a little more money if you don't end up eating it.
You can apply this lesson at home, too, if you want to start building your next vacation fund. If you don't end up eating those leftovers that you take home and throw into the fridge, you're wasting money that you could be saving for your next trip. So take a look inside your refrigerator. If you see any old leftovers in there that you're not just about to eat, maybe it's time to change your eating habits while you're not on the road, too.
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