Thursday, October 1, 2009

Frugal Exploring: Hotel Stays

Kristin over at The Frugal Girl was posting about how her family of 6 took a 2 week vacation frugally, and when I went to comment I realized that it was so long I might as well do a post on it!

G and I have been able to do quite a bit of exploring throughout our marriage because we try and do things frugally. Sometimes we fail, I will admit we've eaten in way too many restaurants since coming back to the US, especially living out of a hotel right now. But we try and compromise so we don't feel like we always have to make or bring our own meal, but also don't go too crazy eating out at places where I could have made it at home!

I will do this in 2 parts so that it isn't too much to read. First up is hotel stays, but come back later for how we save while just getting out and about!

We have stayed in a lot of hotels the past couple months, between moving from England to home and from home to MD. It's been absolutely crazy. But for most hotels we try and book ones that have breakfasts included (sometimes the hotels are booked for us, and we don't have much choice). The base hotel here has a continental breakfast, so unless it's been a weekend (when we like to catch brunch out) or a day we are meeting with the realtor, we catch breakfast here and eat things like cereal (I've come to love Total Raisin Bran!), bagels and cream cheese, boiled eggs, yogurt, muffins, with milk, juice, and coffee. Breakfast in England is huge, so most hotels have a large variety of hot and cold items (think sausages, bacon, eggs so many ways, mushrooms, tomatoes, toast, croissants, fruit, potatoes, juice, coffee, tea, etc) so when staying there make sure to find a hotel that has something along those lines. You can eat a large breakfast that will allow you to eat a smaller lunch later (or eat a late breakfast and an early dinner, skipping lunch).

Utilize the in room coffee pots. G and I usually hate the coffee they put in hotel rooms, but we still use the pots to heat up water for our own tea or nescafe. I fell in love with Nescafe while in Turkey (odd, I know, but the cab driver was drinking it, a fellow traveler offered us to try it, and it works well). So currently in our hotel room we have a big glass jar of Nescafe. We heat up water, and make our own coffee. Easy as pie. This has allowed us to make our own coffee to drink when we're headed out to run errands. I debated on getting a cheap travel mug or spending a bit more and ended up getting an OXO one that clicks to close completely. With G's driving I figured something that can be fly around the car and not burn us was a good choice. And while it was $20 (!) that is really only a handful of starbucks coffees that we haven't had to buy. The coffee mug keeps the coffee hot for hours, it's very well insulated.

We also have tea bags and loose tea we keep on hand when that sounds good. And for those of you feeling a bit under the weather (I have since getting to MD), you can boil the water and then use it to make a cup of soup, or simply some bouillon to drink! I am sure if you get creative you would think of other ways to use the coffee pot!

If you are able to, get a hotel room with a refrigerator and microwave. I've been eating a lot of quick meals just using the microwave (Lean Cuisine ravioli rocks!), and we have on hand fresh veggies, milk, creamer, roasted garlic (for sandwiches and salads), crumpets, butter, and jam. We've been able to pick up a roasted chicken from the store and eat on it for 2-3 meals. That, a simple salad, and some bread makes a delicious dinner that you don't have to spend much on.

If your hotel doesn't have those things, remember there is a lot of food that doesn't need cooking or refrigeration. Peanut butter (the JIF kind for those who are like me and use the natural peanut butter) and some wheat bread and you are good to go for a quick sandwich. If you're a person who needs something else, try honey. Peanut butter and honey is amazing and you don't have to refrigerate it! Crisps (chips), fruit, tomatoes (oh how I love tomato sandwiches!), cereal (choose one you don't mind eating favorite is Kashi Autumn Wheat), the list just goes on and on.

So, there are some ways that we have made hotel stays work for us. Do you have any of your own you want to share?


  1. Try special K to eat dry it is amazing. Also don't forget about cracker they are one of my favorite type of snacks.

  2. Luckily I have a studio apartment style hostel to stay in while I'm in Spain, so I'll have a kitchen to cook in. Eating out ALL the time is definitely not in my budget!

  3. Bobbi Janay, oooh, I love crackers. And Melba toast, and those crunchy breadsticks.....what can I say? I love me some crunchy carbs! I will have to try some Special K.

    Laura, You are going to have such a blast in Spain! And their markets....oh, you will be ble to get so much fresh food! Will you be near the sea? If so, try and pick up some mussels and make paella, or simmer with some butter, cream, and herbs (with clams) for a nice meal to eat with bread. Yummy!