I’m finally back with a tip post this Tuesday about planning meals while traveling for you , inspired by pictures and lessons from our recent trip to Ireland. I want to share with you my general travel philosophy, because it has a lot to do with food, and how to enjoy your vacation and a new place without breaking the bank. Travel is something I love, mostly because it not only relaxes me to be disconnected from the normal stressors of everyday life, but also because I an stretched by engaging with a new place, culture, and people. It may be another state, or another country, but I always come home with a richer perspective and a bigger world.
However, to do all this world-expanding travel, it takes sacrifices throughout the year to end up with the cash to take a guilt and debt-free vacation. Another way to make it possible, I take a slightly different approach to how we will travel and how we plan meals while traveling. So here are my tips for how to travel and eat well while doing it:
1. Skip the hotel room. When we travel, we rarely stay in hotels… Instead we rent apartments or self-catering hotel suites that have a full kitchen available. Being someone who loves to cook, I don’t want travel to stop my favorite activity, and it saves SO much money not having to pay $20 dollars for that toast and coffee in the hotel restaurant. We also end up being so much more comfortable in an apartment than in a cramped hotel room. They tend to have more character and teach us more about how people in that place really live. For us it’s almost always worth the splurge to have more control over our meals and comfort. This beautiful kitchen below is at Cleneghans, our favorite (and cheapest!) place we stayed in Ireland.
2. Eat in. For breakfast and dinner use that kitchen you’re paying for and only splurge on meals out for lunch while out on adventures. For me breakfast is a must because I love a huge breakfast, but most included continental or bed-and-breakfast options are too often woefully inadequate.
3. Travel (& Eat) During Off-Peak Times. We love to travel during the change from winter to spring, because you can still get winter rates with a good chance at pleasant weather. If you apply this philosophy to dining out, try to go out to eat in the middle of the week (Monday-Wednesday is usually best), because fancy restaurants may have specials during those times to get people in the door. Can you believe I got the lamb special below for 1/3 the cost than if I’d ordered it two nights later?
4. Keep it light. Not every meal has to be extravagant 3 course affairs… We often find that traveling can be upsetting to our appetite, so we will fill in with a platter of meats, cheese and fruits on travel days, and use leftovers for snacks during our stay.
5. Eat like a local. It can be very easy when researching a vacation to land in the tourist-catering restaurants. Instead, if you make a point of finding out where your average resident would eat (a line out the door at lunchtime is always a good indication), you’ll end up having a memory of amazing food that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Below is the fish and chips we bought and took to a garden by a castle to eat… SO GOOD. I think I could eat those fish and chips every day and be perfectly content.
6. Above all, be Flexible. You can’t know what to expect when traveling, and that’s where you’ll grow: when you’re at the edge of your comfort and pushing past it. But while you’ll definitely grow, you won’t enjoy the experience if you’re not flexible. Whether it’s realizing your itinerary is just too packed and driving to that beautiful view in the middle of nowhere will be too stressful, or figuring out how to adapt that sausage pasta recipe to use ingredients you can find at the corner store, remember that your agenda is not what is important. Enjoying the experience is.