In today’s episode we will share some of our top tips for saving money while traveling. We are actually going to do this in two podcast episodes. The first part of the series, which is podcast episode 3, we will be focusing on “Eating Out” and “Eating In”. The second series, which will be podcast episode 4, will be focusing on “Getting There”, “Staying There” and “Playing there”.
While this is no means an exhaustive list or how you should do things, it’s just how we do things to save money while RVing. We would love to hear your tips for saving money while traveling. Please leave a voicemail by clicking on the “Send Voicemail” tab on the right of the screen, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If we use your question, tip or comment on a future podcast, we will send you a couple free RVing Illustrated decals.
Tip #1 – Ask a local
One of our favorite things to do when we arrive in a new town is to ask a local where are the best places to eat. We specifically ask who has the best Early Bird specials. We learned this quite by accident on a trip to Hilton Head. I was making small talk with one of the ladies at the pool. Her and her husband were full timers who owned a their own RV lot in the beautiful RV resort we were staying in. I asked her the simple question “where is a good place to eat?”. It was meant mostly as an icebreaker but boy did she have some great tips. She turned us on to a BBQ spot called The Smokehouse that had dollar BBQ tacos and other cool treats for their happy hour. What was even cooler is that it was closer to ride bikes to. The tacos were great and they had other great bar food on the happy hour menu that we loved too. Now we always have at least one happy hour at The Smokehouse when we are in town. She gave us a total of three restaurants to choose from that all had great Early Bird/Happy Hours. We hit two of them and loved them. We can’t wait to hit the third one next time because so far she is two for three! Another great restaurant was Hinchey’s Chicago Bar and Grill. Hinchey’s has a great “Early Bird” special.
Tip #2 – Share an entree
Another of our favorite ways to save money when we are on vacation is to share an entree when we eat out. We find that portions, especially on things like seafood platters, can be enormous. Instead of spending a fortune on two entrees and wasting most of the food we often opt to share an entree.
Tip #3 – Doggie bag it
Along the same lines we often opt to take 1/2 of our entree home in a to go container to eat at another meal. There are times when we either can’t agree on an entree to share or we are not aware of how huge the portions will be. In those cases we ask for a take out container and just eat the other half for lunch or dinner the next day. I have to admit we love getting two meals for the price of one.
Tip #4 – Drink the water
We almost always ask for water instead of tea or soft drinks. This saves us not only an average of three dollars each per meal it also saves on empty calories.
Tip #5 – Opt for lunch
We save a lot of money by having our meal out for lunch. But beware many restaurants run the same menu for lunch on the weekends.
Tip #6 – Restaurant rewards and loyalty programs
Many of your favorite restaurants may have rewards programs. For example you can earn a free burger at Red Robin. They also have specials that they will email you and they also give you a free birthday burger. McDonald’s has an app that Brian loves to use on his phone that gives him specials everyday.
Tip #7 – Ruby Tuesdays salad bar and trio
Ok so we just discovered this recently and we love it. First of all you have to know that we eat a lot of veggies, particularly salads. Well on a recent trip to Ruby Tuesday’s we were turned on to the idea of ordering their Veggie Trio when we order the salad bar. For around 3 bucks you can add 3 veggies. We chose grilled zucchini, baked potato, and steamed broccoli. What makes this so cool is that to get just a baked potato alone costs around 3 bucks. You see we were both going to just add a baked potato to our salad bar meal…the waiter showed us that by getting the trio for the same price we could get a baked potato plus two other veggies of our choice. LIKE YEAH! sign me up. We expected to get these tiny little servings on the Trio…but they were huge! We couldn’t it all. So if you love veggies as much as we do you have to check this deal out!
Tip #8 – Aldi and other low cost grocery stores
One of our favorite grocery stores is Aldi. Aldi is a no nonsense grocery store where we find great deals on things like organic produce, today i bought organic grape tomatoes for $1.79 a pint. I also paid $1.79 for a three pack of large red, yellow and orange peppers. I also love their organic grass fed beef that runs right around $5.00 per pound.
Tip #9 – Steam and season for free
We always look for seafood markets to buy fresh shrimp, crab legs and oysters. A lot of them will steam and season your seafood for you for free. One of our most favorite places to do this is when we go to stay on the Emerald Coast of Florida. There is a place called Goatfeather’s located on the 30A between Grayton Beach State Park and Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. I believe even Publix does this.
Tip #10 – Make your own iced coffee drinks
For some reason, I just love having Starbucks when I am on vacation. Well this can add up if you do it every afternoon. So instead of blowing our whole eating out budget drinking my beloved iced coffees. I make my own at the RV. Whenever I make my morning coffee I just make an extra cup and go ahead and put it my clear double walled reusable iced coffee cup. I got mine from Starbucks so it actually looks just like one of their cups. So I really feel like I am treating myself. But you can buy them for as low as a dollar at the dollar store and places like Walmart. I go ahead and add a pump of vanilla syrup and put the concoction in the fridge to chill all day. When I am jonesing for my iced coffee I simply get it out, add a few pieces of ice, stir and voila…no more Starbucks craving. If you wanted to jazz this up you could add milk, almond milk, or coconut milk and a dash of cinnamon or cocoa and you have more of an iced latte (although you might want to use stronger coffee for that. For the purists out there who have to are like woah…no espresso in your latte… I am feeling you. When I want to take time and do this right… I use my pour over to brew Illy espresso (which I take with me almost everywhere) and follow up by adding syrup and your choice of milk. Where do I find the best deal on Illy? I am glad you asked… Home Goods and sister store TJ Maxx offer the best prices I have seen on Illy. You can also probably find a cheap pour over, or a stovetop espresso pot for a fraction of what you will pay elsewhere.
Tip #11 – Save on bottled water
We used to always buy a 12-24 pack of bottled waters for each RV trip. That is a lot of bottles to store in an RV. We normally put some in the fridge and stuck the rest under the table …which was annoying because it was in the way when we were sitting at the table. The cheapest we found was Walmart brand which was $2.00 for twelve 10 oz bottles. Now instead we have a Primo 5 gallon water bottle that we can refill at Walmart for around $2.50. Plus we keep using the same bottle which is better for the environment. We have this little hand pump spout that we can screw onto hit so we just jump pump out the water we need into one of our own reusable water bottles or containers of choice. I like to put my water in a 20oz Ozark Trail tumbler Yeti look alike. It works really well and I paid only $7.74 at Walmart. I grilled mine up by adding my monogram in pink Vinyl. I would say that all in all you do save a little with this tip. But I find this just be be more convenient in our RV and I do like that we aren’t adding more water bottles to the landfills.
We hope you have enjoyed this podcast and our tips. Make sure you tune in next week for episode 4, where we will share some more of our tips for saving money while RVing.
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