Friday, June 10, 2011

saving money on vacation

It's really easy to break the bank and lose sight of your budget while on vacation. Josh and I know this about ourselves, so when we were planning our trip to Florida, we decided to do some pre-planning and set a budget of $100 for food for the week. We also wanted to make our trip special and eat out a few times, which we rarely do at home. And our room only had a partial kitchen (half size frig, stovetop, and microwave - no oven), so we were limited in making meals.

Here's how we did it:

We had never taken advantage of this great website because our local options are not great. But when we searched the Daytona Beach area, there were tons of great restaurants to choose from! We chose 3 restaurants that looked good and were able to get $25 gift certificates at a greatly discounted price!

2) Gift cards
We were given a gift card to Olive Garden as a graduation present and since we already had our trip planned, we decided to save it and use it in Florida as one of our nights to eat out! This is where pre-planning come into play - if you know you're planning a trip, save your gift cards from Christmas, birthdays or other special occasions to use while you're away!

3) Eat-in when you can
We intentionally got a room with a partial kitchen so that we could save some money on food. We ate all of our breakfasts in the room and packed lunches on the beach. 

4) Meal plan & coupon
Since we knew our room would have a partial kitchen, I was able to plan out what we could easily have for breakfast and lunches and even one dinner. We did cereal, coffee, and bagels & cream cheese for breakfast | sandwiches, chips and cookies for lunches | fruit and granola bars for snacks | spinach, blue cheese and mushroom quesadillas for dinner. I was able to save coupons for these items and we used them and did a mini-shopping trip when we arrived.

5) Leftovers
Several of the restaurants that we went to served very large portions and we were able to bring part of our dinner home and eat it the next day for lunch or dinner.

6) Birthday Freebies
If you can, try to plan a trip around a family member's birthday. There are so many restaurants that give out freebies and coupons good for 2-weeks around your birthday. We celebrated my birthday while we were in Florida and were able to get coffee, ice cream and special treats for free during the week!

Here are some of my favorites:
Auntie Anne’sSign up for Pretzel Perks and get a different coupon every month and a free pretzel for your birthday!
Baskin Robbins Birthday Club: Sign up and get a coupon via email for a free 2.5 oz scoop of ice cream on your birthday.
Ben and Jerry’s: Sign up for Chunk Mail and get a FREE Ice Cream Treat on your birthday!
Bruegger’s: Sign up for Fresh News from Bruegger’s and you’ll snag a coupon for a free bagel with cream cheese upon sign-up and you’ll receive a little something on your birthday.
Caribou Coffee: Sign up for their email newsletter and snag a coupon for a FREE drink on your birthday!
Champp’s: Join the Champp’s Fan Club and get a free cheeseburger or appetizer of your choice upon sign-up and a special birthday gift.
Coldstone Creamery: Join the Birthday Club and you’ll get a free ice cream creation on your birthday.
* Cost Plus World Market: Join the World Market Explorer Rewards Progra and get a surprise birthday gift. *This one is my favorite - they sent me a $10 coupon towards anything in the store - no minimum purchase!
Dunkin’ Donuts: Sign up for Dunkin’ Perks and get a free medium beverage on your birthday.
Firehouse SubsFREE medium sub on your birthday when you show a valid I.D. that has your birthdate.
IHOPSign up for the Pancake Revolution and receive a free meal on your birthday.
Moe’s Southwest GrillJoin Moe’s e-World and get a coupon for a free entree on your birthday.
Noodles & Company: Sign up for Noodlegrams and get a coupon for a free bowl on your birthday.
Red Robin: Join the Red Robin e-Club and get a gift for signing up and a FREE burger on your birthday.
Ruby Tuesday: Join the So Connected Email Club and you'll get a coupon for a free burger on your birthday.
Starbucks: Get a FREE Handcrafted beverage of your choice on your birthday when you register a card
(Birthday freebies found via Hip2Save)

So here's the breakdown:
4 Dinners eating out + tips + gc = $60  
Groceries for breakfasts, lunches, snacks, 1 dinner = $30
Leftovers for other dinners = $0
Various treats = $10
Grand Total: $100 for a week of food on vacation!

I was so proud of us for being able to stick to our budget! And I hope some of these tips and tricks can help some of you the next time you go on vacation!


  1. Thanks for these awesome tips! Too bad we just got back from vacation. I am definitely keeping this for next time and signing up for birthday freebies now!

  2. Thanks Rachel! You will def love all the birthday freebies!

  3. Very impressive. You are on dedicated couponer:)

  4. you are soo good. i want to be more like you.


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