Going on vacation often means eating out three times a day – after all, you’re staying at a hotel or B&B with no kitchen, and there are so many new restaurants to try. But even though eating out can be convenient, it’s not the best for staying healthy – or for keeping costs down. Fortunately, there are actually some alternatives.
Of course, eating healthy and cheaply on the road is much easier when you have access to a kitchen. Even though most traditional hotels don’t have more than a fridge and microwave, the growing number of accommodation options makes it easier than ever to find a legitimate kitchen while travelling.
Vacation rental sites like VRBO and HomeAway let you rent an entire home – which will usually have a fully-stocked kitchen. You can use the more popular Airbnb the same way, or go for the cheaper “private room” option, which often allows access to the host’s kitchen. Other options include hostels with a shared kitchen and extended-stay hotels, which have kitchens in each room and can still be booked for short-term stays. If you manage to find yourself a kitchen on the road, pin some super simple recipes and Google Map the nearest market or grocery store to pick up what you need.
If you can’t come by a full kitchen on a road, there are still some other options. If you have access to hot water (like a coffee pot in your hotel room or a dispenser for tea at the hotel’s breakfast), you can easily mix up “instant” versions of foods like rice, noodles, oatmeal, and potatoes. It won’t exactly be health food, but it may be an improvement over yet another meal out (and it’s cheap!). For places where hot water isn’t available or times when you need to eat on the go, your favourite road trip snacks make good standbys: fruit, nuts, granola, yogurt, cheese and crackers, or even a PB sandwhich.
Making healthy and budget-friendly choices at restaurants is also part of this equation. Do some research ahead of time and compare restaurants (and reviews) to get ideas for where to eat. If menus are online, take a look and decide what to order before you even get to the restaurant. Settling on a health- and budget-conscious choice ahead of time will help you stick to it when the waiter comes around. Lastly, making lunch your main meal of the day is a good way to save money in many countries, especially in Europe, where you can take advantage of lunch specials and get a great deal.
Of course, nobody wants to travel to Rome and subsist on sad instant potatoes in their hotel room or spend their time in Hawaii cooking instead of swimming – but you won’t be missing too much if you just mix a few self-prepped meals into your regular travel diet of three restaurants a day. When you do eat out, choose your restaurants and dishes carefully, and your body and wallet will both thank you by the end of your trip.