Is your family getting ready for your annual summer vacation? If you are like most Americans, the economy has impacted your wallet. For that reason, you may be vacationing on a budget. Luckily, there are many ways to cut expenses and save money. One of the easiest is with food. How can you reduce the cost of food when on a budgeted family vacation?

Avoid snacks at the airport. It is no secret that food, drinks, and snacks cost more in airports. Save your money. Your hands are tied with drinks, but bring snacks from home. Raid your cupboards. If you can’t find tasty dry snacks, head to your local grocery store the day before. You will save $1 or more just on a small bag of chips! As for buying drinks at the airport, opt for sealable containers because they reduce waste. If possible, share drinks.

If you are driving, pack snacks and drinks for the road. You are at an advantage because you can easily fill a cooler with ice. Pack cold sandwich meat and condiments. Your family will not even need to stop for meals. Many rest stops have barbeque pits, meaning you could even enjoy a nice tasty meal, as opposed to a quick sandwich. The key is to keep your cooler filled with ice and stock up on foods before your trip, as you get the better deals.

Try to avoid kids meals, especially at sit-down restaurants. Kids meals are nice at fast food establishments because your kids get a toy. This isn’t always the case with sit-down restaurants. You just get smaller portions and a neat cup, but the costs aren’t much lower. It may be best to let your two children decide on a meal together or alternate at different restaurants. A small child can rarely finish an adult sized meal, especially when you figure in the main dishes and side portions. Ask for another plate and let them share. Essentially, you feed two kids for the price of one!

Avoid expensive restaurants. For family vacations, the best places to eat are casual dining restaurants and fast food establishments. Fast food is nice, but you may want to have a nice sit-down meal with your family. If on a budget, choose a restaurant known for their semi-affordable prices. Consider the tip above and share meals. Moreover, keep these stops few and far in between. Look at a nice sit-down restaurant as a special treat, not a daily occurrence and you will save a lot of money.

Buy snacks from grocery stores. All communities have grocery stores, even resort towns. After spending a day of sightseeing, your family may want to retreat back to the hotel, have a snack, and get ready for bed. It is expensive to buy those snacks from a gas station or hotel lobby. On the way back to the hotel, stop at a grocery store. Opt for an express lane and you will be out quickly, easily saving $5 or more on your family’s snacks.

Take advantage of discounts for hotel guests. It is common for hotels to offer free cold breakfasts to guests. For a warm breakfast, you may just get a discounted rate. Either way, you save money. The same goes for lunch and dinner. Keep taps on the discounts offered to hotel guests at the onsite restaurant. This is a good and convenient opportunity to save money.