Travel tips

Overpaying For Groceries While Traveling

grocery shopping, traveling tips, travel advice

Note: Today’s post was supposed to be a product review and giveaway. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite ready to go yet. Please enjoy the post below, and then come back tomorrow to check out my very first give away here at CleverDude!

The family and I headed out of town on Friday to spend Easter weekend at the home of some in-laws. They were hosting Easter dinner on Sunday, but invited us to come for the weekend since we hadn’t seen them for a while. We needed some supplies for the items we were going to contribute to the dinner. Instead of buying them at home, packing them, and trying to keep some of them cold for the several hour trip to their home, we decided it would be more convenient to just find a grocery store once we got there.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

That decision would turn out to be a big mistake.

Once we got to our destination and relaxed for a bit, we asked for directions to the nearest grocery store. Following my brother-in-law’s instructions, we found ourselves in the parking lot of a well-known chain grocery store that I knew had much higher prices. Since we were unfamiliar with the area, and we were already in the parking lot of a grocery store, we decided to march forward.

As we strolled through the isles, I almost couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Many times there will be minute differences in the prices of items between stores, but every item I put in the cart I could quote a significantly lower price offered by our usual grocery store. Twelve packs of soda, Miracle Whip, packages of cookies, even the eggs from the dairy section were priced much higher.

The total given to us by the cashier was, by my estimation, about 50% higher than what I would have gotten the same items for at home.

There likely was a less expensive grocery store somewhere nearby, but not knowing the area we had opted to go to the closest grocery store for convenience.  Next time we’ll take the time to do a little more research before heading off to to the nearest grocery store.

Have you ever found yourself in an unfamiliar area, and paid more because you took the most convenient shopping option?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

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Brock Kernin


  • Generally speaking, no. Usually we will hit Costco if we’re out of town, or bring food with us. I hosted my mom’s 70th birthday party in VA (we live in NJ) and brought EVERYTHING with us. I had some local VA people contribute bread and drinks.
    I am super-thrifty, and keeping costs down is an area of expertise borne of necessity while raising my first 5 kids after their deadbeat dad left. Not only would I have purchased the items at home in my own familiar territory, I would have made sure that I got them on sale, and probably used a coupon. (Realistically, I would have made the cookies – better AND cheaper!)

  • When we went to Alaska we shopped after we arrived and things were much more expensive. However, trying to take some of that stuff on a plane was impossible. Sometime you gotta just suck it up and do what you have to do. One time won’t harm you forever and you have to value your time in the equation as well.

  • I don’t know, in that situation if I knew it was a high priced store, I’d probably try to look around for a more reasonable option. Did you have access to a smartphone where you could have just typed in groceries and had it come up with grocery stores near you?

  • @Cathie – in retrospect, for this trip anyway, we could have easily bought the stuff at home, put what needed to be put into a cooler and headed out. We were only traveling a few hours. We just chose convenience, and usually you pay for convenience. Sometimes, though, you travel far enough where that isn’t an option.

  • @Kathy – yeah, I can see how trying to bring a bunch of stuff to Alaska wouldn’t be worth it. With the amount they’re charging for checked luggage, you’d likely end up paying an arm and a leg to try to bring anything significant with you. 🙂

  • @Money Beagle – I did have my smart phone….but we were in a little bit of a rush. Plus, when you’re standing in a grocery store, it’s awfully hard to not just get it over with and take your lumps.

  • Why do you think the prices were so much higher? Was it the area or the specific store? I live in a pretty expensive place, so it’s hard to find more expensive groceries than where I live (except for tiny little towns that sell things at gas stations for tourists at 70% more).

    I have found myself in pickles like this before, but not with groceries. I got caught spending a lot more on gifts one time because I wanted to pick them up closer to the venue of a baby shower I was going to – bad idea!

  • Last 2 years ago, we had a land trip travelled for almost 10 hours to attend my cousin’s wedding, then we made a stop over because we need to buy some foods and drinks. When we entered into a small, convenient store we were so shocked because of the prices! Their prices there was triple to a regular price!

  • @Daisy – it was definitely this specific chain of stores…they’re notorious of being much more expensive. I quite honestly don’t know how they stay in business.

  • I don’t like overpaying for anything – but I let the guilt slide when it comes to food because we’ve all got to eat. One of the great things about being on vacation is eating food that you usually don’t eat. I recently went to Boston for 3 days and ate Chipolte 4 times. We don’t have Chipolte in Canada and I absolutely love it. No one needs to eat that much Mexican food but I had to stock up before I came home. It’s a good thing it’s not expensive.

  • @suburbanFinance – I agree….although there may certainly be times when you cannot find a store that’s familiar, this was not one of those times. I just needed to put in the effort to find one!

  • @Tahnya – Hey I love Mexican food….and I totally DO need that much. LOL. That’s a good point – we do all have to eat – I just beat myself up a little bit because I know I could have found a place I was more comfortable with the prices. I’m still amazed at how much more expensive that store is….

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