Thursday, May 24, 2012

Travel Tip: Eat Your Breakfast

Turkey Benedict - Hollywood Cafe, San Francisco

There is nothing worse than being hungry while traveling.   This can manifest itself in many ways:
1)  You are driving across Kansas - you didn't stop at the last Kwik Stop and you are out of Sweet Chili Doritos....for the next 180 miles
2)  You are on a 5 hour bus ride in Thailand and they are playing sappy music videos (true story)
3)  You are going into a seminar.   You thought that breakfast was provided - it said so in your materials.  Really!  In reality there is stale coffee and two sad looking danishes left when you walk into the room.

Don't let hunger while traveling happen to you.  One of the best ways to save money while traveling is to eat breakfast.    Your Mom told you that breakfast was the most important meal of the day.  So did your health teacher.   And your personal trainer / yoga instructor / friend who loves to ride bikes (uphill both ways).   

How Can Eating Breakfast Save You Money?

Bring Your Own
In the scheme of things that are easy to pack, granola bars are flat, light and still taste good if they get smooshed in the corner of your bag.   Or hit a grocery store, a great way to explore a new place anyway, and pick up something to start you off in the morning.   The same Clif bar that might be $1 at your grocery store at home will easily be $3.25 at the hotel coffee shop / tourist snack bar. 

Cook Your Own
If you are staying at a condo or an extended stay hotel with a kitchen, breakfast is easily the cheapest meal to cook - a dozen eggs, a box of pancake mix, a bottle of syrup and OJ will run you less than $10. 

Long Live the Breakfast Buffet
Eating in a hotel is expensive.   Breakfast is definitely the best value, especially if you get the buffet.   You look at the menu and think to yourself, "Really?  $15 (or $18 or $20) for a buffet?"  A buffet is a great value.  Ordering a la carte off the menu is not.   Just ordering a cup of coffee, a bagel and side of fruit can easily bring you close to the cost of the buffet.   And without having any protein you'll be hungry again in an hour.   Order the buffet and you can have all the bacon you can eat.     

Brunch It Out
When you're on vacation you shouldn't be rolling out of bed at 6am like you might on a work day.   Sleep in, take a walk, maybe make a cup of coffee.   If you go out for brunch you'll pay for one meal instead of two.   Eat at 10 or later in the morning and you're good to go until dinner.   Or until you stop for ice cream or happy hour in the late afternoon.  

Have Ziploc, Will Travel
Whether you pay for breakfast in a restaurant or there is a free continental at your hotel, plan to take something for the road.   If you grab a banana from the fruit bowl on your way out the door, no one will bat an eye.   A muffin from the buffet or your general session?  Not a problem.   On the group tours I have taken overseas, breakfast is always included.  Lunch is often on your own.   Make a little sandwich of bread and cheese, discreetly slip it in a napkin or a bag, and tuck it into your purse or backpack.  Two hours later you'll be glad to have a snack, especially if you have to start early to see all the ancient ruins. When lunch time comes you can enjoy a lighter (read: less expensive) meal and save your money for something you love.   In my case I'd rather buy a fun bracelet from a street vendor or hit up a local bakery than pay for an over-priced lunch in a place that caters to tourists. 

Get a Cup to Go
Don't be afraid to ask your last cup of coffee to go as you leave the restaurant.   You know they have the cups ready and the coffee brewed.  

If you have a travel tip of your own, head on over to Budgets Are Sexy to enter his $1,000 giveaway, in partnership with HotelClub!

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