Traveling with your family is so rewarding, but it can also cause a bit of stress. After finding transportation, beds and activities for everyone, you still have to decide how you’ll feed them, too.
But dining with your family — or preparing food for them — doesn’t have to be a cause of pre-travel jitters. Instead, the following XX tips can help you plan menus that make everyone happy.
Helpful Tips for Feeding Your Family On Vacation
1. Budget Your Meals Beforehand
It’s so easy to overspend on food, especially on vacation. You might have a plan to stick to mains only, or to have your kids order exclusively from the children’s menu, but eyes bigger than stomachs have you buying extra, over-budget food.
In order to avoid this stressor, lay out your budget before you go on vacation. Start by choosing a location known to be affordable for families, such as San Diego, Niagara Falls or the Outer Banks in North Carolina. From there, break down how much you’d like to spend on accommodation, activities and food. Whatever that number is, stick to it.
2. Research Restaurants Beforehand, Too
We’re lucky enough to live in an age where everything is online. You can find ratings of every restaurant in the area to which you and your family will travel. Before you even set foot in your destination city, you can have an idea of how much a dinner will cost and where you can get budget-friendly meals just by visiting sites like Trip Advisor and Yelp.
On top of that, a bit of pre-trip restaurant research can help you find eateries that every member of your family will enjoy. Peruse menus to make sure they fit your budget and suit picky eaters so all of your mealtimes will be a breeze.
3. Pack a Cooler
You probably know this one already, but it’s worth mentioning again: packing a cooler will help you keep everyone hydrated and sated on long car trips, days at the beach and on camping excursions, too.
Start by making sure what you use to fill the cooler is healthy and filling: snacks like yogurt, hummus, snap peas, graham crackers and dried fruits fit the bill, although you should adjust the menu to suit your family’s particular tastes. Drinks and heartier sandwiches will be key on longer hauls; they’ll also save you time and money since you won’t have to stop at a restaurant.
4. Try the Unbeaten Path
The most touristy areas in any family vacation destination will be, well, flooded with tourists. This means you’ll likely overspend on meals and wait ages for a table. As a parent, you already know how poorly this will be received by your kids.
One of the best tips for finding places to eat on vacation is to go off the beaten path. Again, resources like Trip Advisor can inform you of the hidden gems of where you’re traveling. From there, narrow it down to cuisines your family enjoys and budget-friendly options and voila: you’re having a memorable meal that many other tourists won’t experience.
5. Put Your Chef Hat On
You probably don’t envision yourself in the kitchen while on vacation, but sometimes preparing meals at home is the best option for families who travel. If you’ve rented a room or property with an equipped kitchen, then you can easily feed your small army. Dishes like chili, tacos, baked potatoes and pesto-laden pasta casseroles are proven to be easy-to-make, hearty vacation crowd pleasers.
If you don’t want to make every meal at home, compromise by serving breakfast and lunch before going out to eat, or marking a few special occasions when you’ll eat out. Eating at home will make your life a bit easier, though, and make it easier to please everyone in your party.
6. Bring All the Tools You Need
Whether you’ll make entire meals or just a few baby milk bottles at your vacation home, are sure you don’t leave any equipment behind. That way, you won’t be stuck without a fully functioning kitchen and forced to go out to eat without taking all of the above steps to find the perfect places for your family to eat. Most vacation homes come with stocked kitchens, but if you need something that’s a bit quirky, call the landlord ahead of time to see if it’s in the kitchen.
7. Have Some Fun
Finally, as we mentioned before, be sure to treat yourself to at least a few good meals out while you’re on vacation. Grab an ice cream cone for the beach or a few extra bags of marshmallows for campfire s’mores. Vacation isn’t an excuse to completely blow your finances, but you should certainly let your hair down and have fun: your family will follow suit, and, once that happens, we guarantee everyone will have a great time — and enjoy the food, too.
Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.