Travel Cheap By Eating Like a Local – Frugalwoods

Let me tell you about our most epic free breakfast occasion ever. We use Starwood hotel points for free hotel stays worldwide and the hotel we stayed at in Amsterdam ( Hotel Pulitzer) included a free buffet breakfast. I’m going to go ahead and say that this hotel would’ve saved money if they’d just given us $50 for breakfast every day instead of allowing Mr. FW and I free reign of the breakfast buffet. This was no Old Country Buffet, Golden Corral, Perkins, Bob Evans-type of buffet. This was a Ritz Carlton, St. Regis, Four Seasons-type of buffet.

We walked in the first morning expecting some modest cold cereals, bagels, and hard boiled eggs, which we would’ve been perfectly happy with. What we found instead was a quaint dining room awash in sunlight replete with white linen table cloths, a personal waiter for every 2 tables (at a BUFFET, mind you), smoked salmon, champagne, cooked-to-order eggs and omelets, waffles, pancakes, a barista making coffees, a plethora of pastries, a ton of fresh cut fruit, oatmeal, cereal, bacon, sausage, cold cuts, finger sandwiches, petite fours.

Basically every Western European food that could ever, or has ever, been considered a brunch item.

A typical meal for us while abroad: loaf of day-old bread (every country has an equivalent), some weird packaged protein (usually a cured meat like salami), another unusual packaged dairy product (funky or hard cheese), beer or wine (we are on vacation after all), and sweet rolls/chocolate/cookies. Preservatives! YUM. We’ll occasionally buy fresh fruit, but it’s usually too difficult to transport and ends up bruised and unloved. Don’t worry, we go on a salad diet when we get home.

We’ll often hit up a grocery store each morning and then carry our sack-o-food around with us all day. We’re intrepid walkers and explorers, so we don’t want to scurry back to our lodging every time we want a snack. You can see why we aim for stuff that’s not going to spoil easily. I once had to check our sack-o-food at a museum’s coat check (thanks, Prado Museum in Madrid), but it’s generally a pretty solid way to have lovely picnics throughout the day. Be Fancy People

We’ve been burned so bad by these touristy, over-priced, mediocre assemblages of “local” cuisine. SAVE YOURSELF! What we’ve found works best is The Frugalwoods Wander & Stare Method (C). Divest yourself of tourist-laden plazas and spin off down local, neighborhood streets. Then, begin peering into restaurant windows and reading menus. Locate a venue packed with locals (trust me, you’ll be able to tell) and with reasonable menu prices. Enter and enjoy!

Dining prices obviously vary by region and in expensive locales it may be best to just stay away. We ate at exactly one sit-down restaurant the entire time we were in Paris, whereas in Bratislava we dined out for every single meal (it was like $3 a person). Best part about Paris is that there was a grocery store right next door to our 5 star hotel (again, thank you Starwood hotel points!).

The concierge looked down her nose at us every time we rolled in with our grocery sacks. And one evening we ate our sack-dinner in the lobby next to the roaring fireplace. I don’t think anyone had ever done that before, so the hotel staff didn’t tell us to leave, but they were visibly rattled. All I could think as we drank wine straight from the bottle was, yep, Frugal Weirdos Do Paris. Know Your Comfort Level

Unless you flawlessly speak the language of the country you’re visiting, it’s best if you’re OK not knowing exactly what you’re eating. If you have food allergies or true dietary restrictions, I suggest you conduct research in advance of your travel to determine what types of food you’ll be able to safely consume. I say this because, for example, vegetarian does NOT mean the same thing the world over. In many countries, fishies are included as vegetarian fare.

That brunch sounds to die for! If we go there, I will keep that place in mind! Husband and I do a mixture of fancy and frugaling when on vacation like you guys. For our 11 day road trip weddingmoon to Canada, we camped, hoteled and fancied it up somewhat equally. Everyday of our weddingmoon we hiked (yes, even on our wedding day – I have a blog if you’re interested), and every day breakfast was either something quick, or included, or oatmeal at camp – lunch was on the trail – dinner was always out. Because it was our wedding trip and we could! We just did a 10 day California road trip where we mixed it up with camping, hotels and staying with friends. My favorite night of the trip was our $25 campsite in view of the ocean, short hike to a beach (whiskey may have been involved), ramen for dinner (I packed the ramen for emergencies, but really a restaurant was too far away), falling asleep to the sound of the ocean. Our goal isn’t to make it the cheapest trip possible, but to mix it with niceties and our normal camping style so we can do lots of trips every year. We have yet to do a European trip or somewhere that requires a flight and passports (Canada aside) but I have my eye and heart set on hiking the Italian Dolomites hut to hut trip.

late to the party again, making my way through old posts. 🙂 I looooove going to foreign grocery stores, I can’t believe anyone would want to miss out on that part of travel. I remember being in Sweden at a grocery store and gaping at all their millions of types of liquidy yogurt, and not really understanding what you do with liquid yogurt. (it’s good though!) Or being in Majorca and getting this chocolatey cereal and being like, “this is literally the best thing i’ve ever had” even though it’s something i would never eat in real life. (never to be found again…) Or, when i was studying abroad in London, it was totally great going to Sainsburys and trying to figure out what products were the cheapest staples, so we could save our $$ for ciders at the pubs and clothes from TopShop. Milk was extremely cheap for some reason (maybe a subsidy or something?), and we ate a lot of these tiny pita breads, a lot of yogurt, and there were all these types of Babybel cheeses we don’t have in the US- we were so into those for some reason. Grocery shopping is definitely one of my favorite travel activities. Has the added benefit of the language barrier generally not being an issue. Ordering in restaurants with a cranky waiter that is very annoyed i don’t speak German or whatever is very anxiety provoking for me.