Curbing the Cost of Meals on Trips: Creative tips from my Grandfather


Recently, my grandfather and I were running errands together (and yes, we live relatively close together, making get togethers rather easy.) We got to talking, as naturally happens when two people are together and my grandfather brought up some very good points that I thought I would share, from his road trips, being a traveling salesmen for many decades and more.

My grandfather and Grandma Norma used to love to take road trips but being retired and being on a retirement income (both being remarried and so forth, combining incomes and responsibilities, he said, was something they discussed and worked on together.)

Here are some of Papa’s suggestions/tips to making a road-trip/travel more affordable, especially if funds are limited/tightly budgeted.

  1. Pack a snack basket for your vehicle occupants, things you like are often cheaper/more affordable if you purchase them at your local, regular grocery store or market (use coupons as often as possible.)
  2. Keeping snacks in your location, or helping to buy groceries when staying at someone’s house is not only courteous but it prevents “splurging” on take out.
  3. Stop off at a road side view to have a little picnic/stretching break, it will provide a chance for a great view and not cost you any extra time or money not be as tempted to pick up anything else along the way to your destination.
  4. When dining out, split a meal between yourself and someone else at your table. An “extra” side salad and one entre is cheaper than two whole meals.
  5. Groupon (okay, it’s my best friend Kevin who has used these and pointed this out). It’s a great deal to use and it provides a different take on an event and dining out and/or event tickets and so forth. I benefited from such a groupon where he treated us to a multi course meal during a Christmas event a couple years ago, both of us had a really nice multi course meal for a fraction of what other guests at our table dined for that evening.)
  6. There is an app to find the cheapest gas on your travels as well, something my grandfather notices all the time, hey a couple of bucks saved is still money saved.
  7. My friend Stacy also used an Ibotta app for groceries and other items picked up, while using her list to only get what she needs for the house and trip, earning money back (I am not sure how that works but she says it’s awesome!)
  8. Other’s in my family have “club memberships” (free rewards programs) to chain motels and hotels for discount rooms for repeat patronage, etc. There is also a way to get a percentage of returns on using certain hotel bookings etc. if you have the Acorns investment account, something I personally use, which means I can book a room online (after searching for the best price, I will get a kick back for investing!)

I believe what my grandfather was conveying is that a bit of preparation and forethought can be very beneficial in keeping the adventures going and doing it on a limited budget can be possible.

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