Thursday, October 13, 2011

Travel Tips to Have Your Cake and Eat it too

Everyone loves a vacation, but I don't know anyone who likes to go broke because of it. Tomorrow, Ash and I are getting ready to take an extended weekend trip from Philadelphia to Raleigh. While I know we'll be eating many of our meals out, I also know we won't break the bank, thanks to a few good food-related, money-saving tips.

I booked our hotel using Priceline. It's the first time I've used their hotel service, but I'm pretty happy with what was available! Our hotel is brand new, super close to the main place we'll be going over the weekend, and top top it off, it had some of the best reviews.

The first money-saver is that our hotel offers a free continental breakfast, but not just the cereal and fruit spread you typically find. The breakfast features a little more, such as scrambled eggs and a few other hot options. It'll be a great chance to get our day started with a hearty meal, and even pick up an extra piece of fruit for a snack later in the day. The next time you are preparing to book a hotel for a trip, check for free continental breakfast.

Another bonus is that our room (and all of them in our hotel, for that matter) has a mini-fridge, microwave and coffee maker. The mini-fridge is great for stocking a few extras like juice, soda, yogurt, cold cuts, fruits and veggies, etc. Lunch time is usually when you're on the go, so it's extra convenient to be able to make yourself a sandwich to bring along for your day, and supplying the ingredients yourself will certainly be cheaper than picking up something while you're out.

I love when hotels have a microwave in the room. It's perfect for heating up dinner leftovers for a late night snack, making popcorn before bed, heating up water for tea, etc. And of course the coffee maker automatically saves you a couple dollars each morning. Rather than run out to a local coffee shop, you can make it yourself and have a cup while you're getting ready. Most hotels even supply the coffee for you, or you can bring your own. And with the mini-fridge, you can even bring your own cream so you aren't stuck using the non-dairy, powdered creamer (ew).

Finally, the best places to eat out when you go on vacation are the locals' favorite spots. Think about your own habits at home - do you go out to tourist-trap or similarly pricey restaurants on a regular basis? Doubtful. I've never been a fan of chain restaurants - imagine what they have to do in order for the food to be the same at every location across the country. Not something I want to eat, that's for sure. Since I lived in Raleigh for a few years, I already know some of the best spots in town, and I can't wait to get my grub on!

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