If you can stay with friends or family, I choose that option if I can, but when that isn’t an option (seems like most of the time for me), I have a few tips for saving on the hotel.
Sign up for the hotel chain’s rewards program. Sign up for all of them if you have to. I always tried to pay with points if I could. If I couldn’t stay enough with one chain to earn free nights, I usually accumulated enough for an upgrade. Sometimes I even got a room upgrade without the points simply by being a member and being polite to the staff.
I also tried to use one cash back card for all hockey expenses. Make those fees work for you. I would then pay it off right away, but if the cash is flowing anyway, you may as well get those few percentage points as a little discount. Every little bit helps here.
I took advantage of those cash back shopping sites, too. Rakuten was my favorite, but I have also used MyPoints for years. With Rakuten, I have been able to completely pay for Christmas just by running all my online shopping through there. They send a check a couple times a year, and for me, that just goes to either Christmas or hockey.
Dining out is another big expense, so I tried to minimize that when I could. Many times, my son’s teams would have team potluck dinners in someone’s room, or we’d reserve a conference room if we could or use the breakfast area. This was always nice because there was no restaurant bill to pay, the kids felt more free to move around, and it was just all around more relaxed. It was nice not to think about where to go out to eat for at least one meal and nice not to overwhelm a restaurant with the whole team.
If the hotel doesn’t serve breakfast, that’s an easy and inexpensive meal to eat in your room. Lunch and dinner take a bit more planning or a stop to a nearby grocery store, but there are lots of easy kid friendly ideas, especially if you bring a slow cooker. I almost always brought a loaf of bread, peanut butter, jelly, and plastic knives for sure.
Chili or soups can be frozen in bags which can double as ice packs in the cooler on the way there. They also reheat well in a slow cooker. Pair chili with cornbread or soup with sandwiches.
Sloppy joes or taco meat also freeze well and reheat easily in a slow cooker, and you can cook hotdogs in a slow cooker as well. If you make enough chili, you could have chili one night and chili dogs the next day for lunch.
If we weren’t cooking in our room and ate at a restaurant instead, I would try to choose places where I know we would end up with leftovers to munch on the rest of the weekend. Pizza and Chinese food specifically come to mind, and we would order with leftovers in mind ordering a little bit bigger pizza than normal, for example.
However, having “good” food in the room not only saved money, it makes your room a gathering place. I always found that to be a good thing, so I always brought enough snacks and homemade treats to share.
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