How to Pay for Travel, Part 3: Food

Friday, January 31

If you missed Part 1&2 on “How to pay for Travel” see {Part 1} and {Part 2}

Today we are talking about my favorite thing…FOOD! To me, food is culture! Not too many things excite me more than sampling local flavors! However, eating out can get expensive! Especially if you are in Europe…our poor dollar loses so much value to the Pound and Euro! And eating out adds up fast…a breakfast here, a lunch there, throw a snacky snack in, and dinner there…and soon just your food tab alone exceeds $100 for the day! Yikes! Kevin and I realized this pretty quickly and devised a few trips to help cut down the costs! 

**As a note, most of these tips work best in Europe or other more expensive countries (like Australia, NZ, Japan). Traveling in SE Asia, Africa and S. America is a lot easier with food, as meal costs are very cheap! But these tips work well wherever you are:) Enjoy! 

1)   Stay at a place that offers breakfast: You can find very affordable places that include breakfast with the lodging! This is a great way to factor in a meal so that you don’t have to go out for your morning munchies! We found this to be especially lovely in Ireland, where Bed and Breakfasts were the lodging of choice, and you received a very hearty breakfast, and sometimes items to take with you for lunch! Often, because the breakfasts were so big, we didn’t need a huge lunch, only some snacks! And…if you are anything like my sisters, you can even sneak a few pieces of bread into your purse to take with you the rest of the day:)

2)    Pick one meal to eat out: When in extremely high priced countries (such as France) Kevin and I decide to pick one meal to eat out. This allows you to savor the ambiance of local eateries and sample specific delicacies, but also doesn’t break your budget! Typically we choose to eat out for dinner, but depending on where we are it will swap. In Belgium, we knew we had to sample a Belgium waffle for breakfast! Eat the rest of your meals from grocery stores….
{my sweet parents below…eating out in Delft, Holland}

3)   Frequent grocery stores & Open Air Markets: I cannot stress this enough! Grocery store snacks will go a LONG way both in your budget and in your stomach. Our go-to snacks when traveling, which we find the perfect combination of both tasty and filling, is a loaf of bread, cheese and salami. (If you are gluten free like me, Europe is seriously legit at having g-free bread at grocery stores!)This trio is easy to store and take out when your hunger gets the better of you. Add in a few pieces of fruit, some dark chocolate for the sweet tooth, and some carrots, and you are ready to go! Open air markets are abundant all around the world, and picking up some lovely produce and fresh fruit is a perfect way to enjoy the ambiance of the markets, as well as save a few pennies! (fresh nectarines, peaches, apricots, and cherries are the most delicious summer fruits to pick up at markets!) In Paris, Kevin and I spent a romantic evening picnicking in front of the Eiffel tower with our delicious store & market bought food, and wine {when in France, right?}.  This to me was just as special as dropping $100 on a nice meal:) except you save AND the Eiffel tower is your view, hello!!!!
{our lil' french picnic above…and another shot of our janky "picnic basket" aka trash bag, below! ha}

4)   Prepare your own food: Every once in a while you might happen to stay in a place that has its own kitchen. USE IT! This past year my family rented a quaint multi-level home in Delft, Holland from AirBnB (which I will talk about more later!). It had a giant kitchen, and so my mom bought groceries for the week and we cooked different meals every day! Our family also stayed in a dormitory at an old Monastery in Belgium. We picked up groceries before we arrived, and that night my mom made a delicious dinner, and lovely breakfast each monring. This works especially well if you are cooking for a larger group of people! Eating out with 6+ people WILL be expensive, so consider making meals.

5)   Bring your own small packaged condiments from home: That’s right, I’m literally telling you to steal those crushed red pepper packets at the pizza parlor, and your salt and pepper packets off your airplane tray! Am I a red-neck yet? Haha! But, if you know you will be cooking while on vacation, pack a zip lock bag full of tiny packets of condiments you would get at restaurants Our go-to condiments include crushed red peppers, parmesan, and salt and pepper (but others could include ketchup, mustard, mayo, relish, etc). This money saving trip keeps you from having to buy a whole big bottle of any of these items, only to use them a few times! {and really, do you want to put a huge salt dispenser in your purse to take home?}

6)   Pack Snacks! I almost always pack snacks in my suitcase when I travel. Buying a bulk box of granola bars from Costco before your trip can do wonders! Snack items I can’t live without include: trailmix, gluten free/vegan granola or energy bars, dried fruit, rice cakes and inner peas (my favorite snack from Trader Joes). Often I’ll use ziplock bags to divide the trail mix, dried fruit and rice cakes into daily allotments, so that I only have to grab one zip lock bag instead of the whole big bag of granola, fruit or rice cakes! Prepping these items makes snacking a no-hassle job once on your adventure! Snacks also come in extra handy when the food in a particular country is doing a number on your stomach. I can think of times in both Kenya and in Nepal where I literally was not keeping anything in my system (if you know what I mean!), so eating some comfortable food for the body helped keep me going!

If you are all about food when you travel, never fear, I will have a future post on all the most delicious items to eat in each country!  However, I hope that this post just sheds some light on how to save money when it comes to food!

Bon Apetit!

Love Katie

Hoi An, Vietnam {Day 2&3}

Thursday, January 30

If you missed our first day in Hoi An, Vietnam you can see it {here}

We were in Hoi An for a total of 3 days, and it was not enough.
But, we absolutely took advantage of this lovely and historic coastal town!
Day two we rented a motorbike from our hotel…$8 for the whole day! score:)

Kevin was livin' the dream as we scootered all around the Vietnamese countryside!
He convinced me to drive for a little bit and it was hysterical, as I was pretty freaked out…
so after some nervous and shaky stretches, I handed the reigns back to him and was content to just
soak in the beauty and culture around me!

we zoomed past rice paddies, beaches, families eating meals together, schools, and large propaganda posters. I was enthralled by this country. So much history, rich and sad, unfair and beautiful.

For all the Vietnamese suffered under the US during the Vietnam war,
I was genuinely surprised to find the local people so welcoming towards us as Americans.
Literally, Vietnamese people are so jovial and always joking. Like really, they were funny.

A list of must-see/ must-do's in Hoi An include:
- Eating out!!! Our favorite places: 
            *Bale Well {this was my absolute favorite and most memorable eatery from our entire trip!
              They only have one item on the menu, and they bring out plates upon plates and show you
              how to pack it into a spring roll. It was like WHOA in your mouth…i've never tasted anything
              like it! Pictures below!}
            * Food Stalls {our second favorite meal in Hoi An was the food stalls across the bridge and to
               the left! For just a few dollars, Kev and I stuffed ourselves on the famous Hoi An specialty
               called Cau Lao. It's a mixture of noodles, meat and veggies with a scrumptious sauce! And
               beer was 13 cents…Kev was all over that one!}
             * Morning Glory {One of the many restaurants run by a celebrity Vietnamese chef. This one I
               loved more for the ambiance than for the food. The food was good, but the packed nature of
               the venue just had a great synergy that was worth experiencing!!}

- Renting bicycles
          * When in Hoi An, do as the locals do and bike! Families, children and businessmen alike all
             bike around the city as the major transportation. It is a gorgeous view and things are close
             together! Our hotel had free bikes to use, so we took advantage of that!

- Renting a scooter:
           * In order to see more of the countryside and surrounding areas, a scooter is a fabulous way to
              get around! We rented ours for $8 a day, and used it quite frequently!

- Beach it up!! 
            * Hoi An has a gorgeous beach about 5-10 minutes driving from the main city. We biked this
              one day and it took about 30 minutes, but on a scooter it takes around 5 minutes. The beach is
              absolutely gorgeous…crystal clear waters and chairs/umbrellas to rent for $2 a day. You just
              can't beat this most relaxing spot!

           * Hoi An is known for tailoring. You could bring a picture of a clothing item you are dying to
              own, and a tailor will make an exact replica for you! As much as I wanted to do this, our
              backpacks had no room for any more clothes, haha!!

- Accommodations: 
           * Our hotel, The Botanic Garden Homestay, was between the beach and the downtown area.
              We loved the location, and it was made easy with bike or scooter! We totally recommend this
               hotel if you are going…lovely people and gorgeous grounds!

As a side note, to get to Hoi An you can fly or train from Hanoi or Ho Chi Min City to Da Nang, and from Da Nang you can take a bus, or in our case, our hotel picked us up!

Basically we cherised our time in Hoi An, and I think we would move there if we could.
A most unique, relaxing, and historical city!

Happy Wednesday friends,
love Katie

 {our hotel}