Enjoying dinner in a restaurant is a wonderful experience. It is hard to imagine having to skimp on this luxury, especially while traveling throughout the United States. Food costs are right up there with hotel and entertainment expenses when it comes to vacations, but there are ways to sample all of the local cuisine along the way to your destination, as well as once you have arrived, without blowing your travel budget

Pre-Planning

Do a little research before leaving home. Looking online is a great way to find the best restaurants in any given area to fit your budget. Buffets like the Golden Corral are a wonderful value when traveling. They offer a variety of foods for one fixed price, and you can go back for seconds. Locations are easy to find. Go to your favorite search engine and type in the phrase “Golden Corral near me.”

If there is a specific dish you want such as seafood, check out several restaurants’ websites, or call them directly to ask about daily specials. You can also sign up for coupons and email alerts about upcoming promotions. Planning ahead makes it easier to stay within your budget while taking advantage of special offers.

Flexibility

If there is a certain restaurant you want to visit, be flexible when it comes to eating. Many restaurants are more expensive on the weekends. The exact same meal can be significantly cheaper on a Monday when compared to Saturday evening. Prices fluctuate according to the time of day as well. Lunch is always a better bargain than dinner, and most restaurants serve the same dishes for both meals.

You can find more deals during the week too. Bars and eateries are more likely to have discounts on week days when business is slower. Eating your meals during the off hours can add up to substantial savings. Watch for late afternoon and happy hour menus as well as half price appetizers during select times. Visit bakeries at the end of the day rather than first thing in the morning.

Eat Local

Popular vacation destinations can quickly become tourist traps. This means much higher prices on food. You can save a lot of money by asking the locals where they like to eat. They are the experts when it comes to finding the best deals around. That local diner off the beaten path is likely to give you a better value for your dollar than the restaurant next door to your resort.

Do not use room service. These meals are always overpriced. Look for bars, restaurants, and shops around the colleges instead. They cater to students who are on fixed budgets. Restaurants at the local casinos are also a better deal. They want you to have money left over for the slots. You also want to take advantage of the free breakfast buffets that many hotels now offer. Filling up before you head out for the day allows you to skip high priced lunches and snacks later on.

Couponing

Check online for restaurant coupons and daily deals from sites like Groupon, Yelp Deals, Valpak, and Living Social. You can also find coupons in the tourist brochures offered in the hotels lobbies, at the airport, and at rest stops along the highway. State welcome centers have several publications featuring terrific deals on restaurants around popular attractions.

A good old-fashioned newspaper is also a wonderful place to find deals on food. Look through the advertisement section for local coupons. Before leaving home, you should also check city, state, and county tourism websites for free guide books that often include great deals on food and lodging.

Use Reward Programs

Several membership cards offer savings on food when traveling. You may not even know you are entitled to these offers. Senior citizens, students, military members, and professions such as police officers, teachers, and firefighters may also be eligible for discounts. Always be sure to ask.

Joining reward programs can be beneficial as well. Receiving points for meals you already eat can add up. You can also sign up for an Upromise account in order to take advantage of their rewards program. If you are saving for your child’s college or have student loans, you can register your credit, debit, and dining cards for free. Certain purchases will then be applied towards your savings account or loans.

Conclusion

Saving money while eating out traveling the United Sates is easy if you know where to look for the bargains. Check online before leaving home, and ask the locals where to find the best deals once you arrive. These tips along with some excellent rewards programs can keep your food budget under control while traveling.

About the Author:

Mike Jones is an avid traveller. His love for cooking is matched only by his passion for writing. Mike has explored many places in the US but also from Europe and South America. His most recent journey was to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He encountered many people that believed that visiting the United States is expensive, so he decided to create travel guides that prove them wrong. Mike can be also found on Twitter and Facebook where he shares news about natural living and health.