18 Travel: Road Food

When travelling, it’s easy to overspend at restaurants. Manage food costs and waistlines with these simple strategies.

18.1  Book Lodgings That Save on Food

   18.1.1  Book Rooms With Kitchens
With a small kitchenette, you can eat in.

   18.1.2  Seek Refrigerators and Microwave Ovens
Even if your lodging lacks a kitchen, you still can save with these.

   18.1.3  Use Coffee Makers
With access to hot water, you can enjoy instant oatmeal, cup-o-soups, and freeze-dried dishes (visit REI.com).

   18.1.4  Book Lodgings With Free Breakfasts
Start the day with a big FREE meal and eat light afterwards.

18.2  Map Out Cheap Eats in Advance

Plan ahead to cut your food costs.

   18.2.1  Find Restaurants
Travel guides sort eateries by price range. Make a list of top values.

   18.2.2  Locate Your Warehouse Membership Clubs
Lunch at outposts of Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s. Or pick up rotisserie chickens to go.

   18.2.3  Pinpoint Groceries and Dollar Stores
Map these out beforehand, or travel with a GPS device.

   18.2.4  Visit Sub-Priced Sandwiches
When split in half, a twelve-inch sandwich at Subway feeds two heroically for the price of one.

18.3  Pack to Save on Food

   18.3.1  Carry Water Bottles
Hydrate for less. When flying, fill up at water fountains after you pass through security.

   18.3.2  Stock Portable Pantries
For car travel, stock a box with snacks and quick road meals. For flights, pack a few items in your carryon, including energy bars and just-add-hot-water meals.

   18.3.3  Pack a Rice Cooker
In The Pot and How to Use It, movie critic Roger Ebert suggested travelling with a three-cup rice cooker. The compact device fits easily into your carryon bag and cooks not only rice, but also oatmeal, chicken, and other savory fare.

   18.3.4  Use a Cooler
If driving, pack a hard-sided cooler. Stock it with drinks and snacks. If flying, pack a soft sided cooler—it collapses down to fit into luggage. If you don’t have room to pack a cooler, buy one from a thrift store at your destination, use it as you travel, and donate it back before you head home (and don’t forget to take the tax deduction if you itemize).

   18.3.5  Favor Reusable Ice
Ice is messy and sometimes you even have to pay for it. If your room has a refrigerator, it likely includes a freezer with enough space to refreeze your ice packs.

   18.3.6  Clip Coupons
Before your trip, visit the websites of local eateries and print their coupons. Join the Groupon and LivingSocial sites for your destinations.

   18.3.7  Pack the Restaurants Checklist
Take along a copy of Appendix 3 and follow it.

18.4  Avoid Price Gouges

   18.4.1  Don’t Spend at Airports
Vendors know they hold you hostage and overcharge at will. Local governments pile on with sky-high sales taxes. Fight back. Stash your bag with enough food to cover the trip and any delays that might strand you at the terminal. For convenient protein, pack beef jerky as your carryon carrion.

   18.4.2  Skip Hotel Shops, Convenience Stores, and Gas Stations
Once again, you’re held captive to high prices; visit grocers or dollar stores instead.

□   18.4.3  Avoid Vending Machines
If you vend, you overspend. Pack water bottles and energy bars.

2 Responses to 18 Travel: Road Food

  1. Denise September 11, 2017 at 12:50 AM #

    Great advice for road food, thank you!
    For reusable ice: I don’t buy ice packs, instead I use empty water bottles. Fill them with tap water and put into freezer. The next morning put the bottles at the bottom of the cooler and use them as ice packs.

    • A Noonan Moose September 11, 2017 at 9:04 AM #

      I love the cheapness of your frozen water bottles–that’s a “cooler” idea than my blue ice packs!

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