I know that personally, one of the things I often under-budget for on my holidays is food. (Ok, let’s not be cheeky – I am including booze in there too.)
It’s especially a problem on city breaks,where costs are higher and choices almost too much to be useful. Here are some tips to keep you running at full steam while not draining the wallet.
I love free breakfast. Mostly I like free breakfast because I can indulge in heavy brekkie food I don’t normally have at home (who has the time to make pancakes during the week?), but also I am a caffeine addict, so if I am in a city, I am without question staying at a hotel that has free breakfast. Now, not all free breakfasts are made equal, so check it out before blindly booking, but this alone can save you a bundle, since filling up earlier in the day will keep hunger at bay.
Stop by the grocery for snacks. Fill your day pack with some snacks so you aren’t tempted to have 4, or 5, or worse, 6 meals a day. In cities, you can just stop by a newspaper stand but a grocery store is better, as you can find plenty of treats without paying what you’d pay in a souvenir shop or hotel lobby stand. Snacks are also a fun way to get introduced to a little bit about the destination’s culture. So do it: I’ve giving you permission to carry chocolate with you at all times.
When the schedule allows, have a sit down lunch. Lunch is often cheaper than dinner, and if you have a full lunch, you’ll not want the starters and the dessert at dinner. I’m more of a lunch person anyway, so for me it is natural, as I prefer a smaller dinner and then nip off to bed after a glass of wine. If you are in a rush and don’t want a sit down lunch, at least eat a full meal – take the sandwich and the chips, for example – so you’re not downing all that chocolate you bought by 2 o’clock.
Happy Hour and Prix Fixe are your friends. I’m not sure where it started (Seattle, I noticed, has a ravenous happy hour scene), but whether you’re in Chicago or Cairo, there’s an evening special going on somewhere. I’ve been known to eat dinner a little early just take advantage of small plate specials. Also, in some cities – Paris notably – the prix fixe features one of the best dishes on the menu, and includes wine, so what’s not to like? This takes a bit of planning, so get yourself a mobile app with tips or check out one of the hyper-local magazines/websites.
What are your tips for saving on meals while on a city break?
Photo by author.
Posted : Thursday, March 7th, 2013 at 11:00
Andy Hayes is based in sunny Portland, Oregon. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he works on his own lifestyle publication, Plum Deluxe.