My daughter and I just returned from visiting my wonderful grandmother and her side of the family on the East Coast, and we tried out a new money-saving travel strategy: we packed our breakfasts so that we never had to eat out in the morning. It was an 8-day trip, and here’s what we packed for breakfast in our carry-on luggage:
- 16 packets of instant oatmeal (various flavors)
- 8 tea bags (for me)
- 1 Ziploc baggie of Ovaltine (for my daughter)
That’s it! Every morning, we prepared the oatmeal by mixing it with hot water, and I had a cup of tea and my daughter had a cup of Ovaltine. The only thing we bought was milk, for the Ovaltine. Well, I did borrow sugar from my fabulous cousin we were staying with, but next time I’ll remember to bring my own. And for full disclosure, we did end up trading breakfasts a couple times- my cousin’s kids ate the oatmeal we brought, and we had their cereal.
The breakfast food only took up a small amount of space in our luggage (about the size of one athletic shoe) and we were still able to fit all of our clothes and other items in our carry-ons so that we didn’t need to check any bags. You might be wondering if it was insanely boring to eat the same thing over and over again, but it really wasn’t- I loved the flavor of tea I brought, the oatmeal was tasty, and most importantly, we were enjoying our vacation so much that eating out for breakfast would just have gotten in the way of our fun. Sometimes I go on vacations that are very food-centric, and though I enjoy all of the food immensely, I finish the vacation feeling bloated and sluggish. This vacation was the opposite- food was almost an after-thought, as it was just for fueling up- the real fun was all of the great interaction we had with our extended family, and all of the time we spent at the beach.
Even if my daughter and I had avoided restaurants for breakfast and only stopped in cafes for coffee, hot chocolate, and muffins, we still would have rung up a tab of at least $10 per day, which would have been $80 for the trip. I was so glad to save that money and just focus on the quality time spent with our relatives.
I am absolutely going to make this a standard practice for our vacations, assuming my husband will put up with it. I have yet to try this out when staying at a hotel- in that case we would need to pack a bowl and spoon for each person, and replace the Ovaltine, which requires milk, with instant cocoa packets that can be made with hot water- so I’ll report back when I do and let you know how it went.
How do YOU save money on food on vacation?