When you’re on a full-blown vacation or even when you are just taking a weekend trip, your meals can be enjoyable milestones in your day rather than the subjects of your nightmares; and speaking of nightmares, the cost of eating can eat up a big part of your vacation budget. Following are some tips that will help you eat better, spend less and, as a result of the two, possibly even sleep better while on your trip.
Start your day with a healthy breakfast and, by definition, that excludes ‘just grabbing a donut for the road.’ Not that there is anything really wrong with donuts but donuts and pastries are high in sugar and fat — sugar may give you a morning boost but it doesn’t last long and half way through your morning you’ll find yourself looking for a second breakfast or a brunch.
Your best bet for breakfast is eating a balanced meal, just like your other meals of the day: Many hotels and motels offer you a complimentary continental breakfast — that just means a breakfast buffet with a good variety of foods — just what you need and what you should be looking for! Work your way around the buffet you’ll find them offering bread, waffles and English muffins right next to a toaster, some jams, jellies and syrups for spreading or pouring on your toasted choice, a variety of cold cereals with milk or sometimes hot oatmeal, some fruit for your side dish or for mixing in with your cereal and then there is yogurt, orange juice, grapefruit juice and tea or coffee. If you skip the continental breakfast and opt for a restaurant meal, the same rules about a balanced breakfast apply but you’ll be able to add eggs, bacon, sausage and table service to the mix.
With breakfast done, you’ll have a ‘full tank’ that will keep you going through your morning activities and keep you focused on enjoying a full schedule rather than being distracted by an empty belly.
When you think about it, it makes sense to have your main meal of the day in the middle of the day — especially when you’re traveling. What you’re doing is packing in the calories and then, during the course of your active afternoon, burning them off. This also makes good financial sense; many restaurants have lunch specials that feature all the things you will be able to buy later, at supper time — at a higher price.
If you’re staying in a hotel or motel, ask the desk clerk or concierge about their favorite restaurant. You may get a tip about a restaurant that serves some local favorite foods; that’s a nice way to enhance your travel experience with some genuine local flavor.
The rule about eating a balanced meal works for lunch as well as it does for every other meal. You might start your lunch with a salad with a favorite salad dressing or a fruit salad or fruit cup or that salad might be a main course — there are some wonderfully filling and healthy (balanced) main-course salads with chicken, ham, bacon bits, seasoned croutons and a world of other ingredients. Depending on where you’re traveling you may just want to experiment a bit with some local favorite menu items — ask your waiter or waitress to suggest something and be sure to ask about ingredients if there is something you know you shouldn’t be eating.
Don’t skip dessert! A small dish or ice cream, with or without toppings or a small slice of pie or cake is a nice way to finish your lunch (remember, this is your BIG meal of the day).
“Just in case” foods are always a good idea when you’re traveling. You may be sightseeing or just traveling when you get that urge to “eat something.” Stopping and buying something is always possible but its really an unnecessary expense if you have a snack bag stowed away in your bag or backpack — besides, stopping along a tour route to buy something means your paying inflated tourist prices! The way to put together your own snack bag is to stop at a grocery store and buy some dried fruits, nuts, raisins, crackers and something to put on the crackers like peanut butter or cheese. Keep your snack bag handy!
After your big lunch you should be looking for a light meal to end your day — it’s good for your waistline and will give you a better night’s sleep. One great and economical idea for that end-of-the-day meal is to combine that trip you should have made to the grocery store for your snack items with some purchases for your supper. Get some tasty lunch meats, bread, cheese to make sandwiches and some fruit for dessert.
Many hotels and motels have small refrigerators in their rooms and many even have microwaves; when making reservations pick a location with these amenities and use them. Making your own supper can be a major savings to your vacation budget and may even allow you to save enough to spend an extra day visiting an attraction you might otherwise have to skip.
It’s always good to be home and just in case it hasn’t occurred to you, you might look at some of these eating and spending tips and apply them to your eating habits and your food budget even when you’re not on the road.