During Easter, we went to another city to spend time with family. We have a big family so there was no way everyone could stay with relatives, instead, we all went to a hotel for the weekend. It was convenient for all of us to stay at the same hotel as we could all have breakfast together and have plenty of quality time. The downside was that we had no place to eat apart from whatever we found from the city.
Because we had no cooking facilities (nor minibar that we could use as a fridge) we felt like the only option was eating out, something we don’t normally do. Quite quickly we noticed that if you want to eat out affordably there are not really many healthy options. Instead, you are offered white fluff in forms of pizzas, burgers, and sandwiches. We felt quite gross after a few days and were looking forward to returning home to cook decent meals.
But when I think of it, this was no one-time experience. We have had this dilemma many times before. Last summer we went to Greece and stayed at a hotel. Although the hotel room included breakfast, we still had two main meals that we wanted to have on top of that. It was very difficult to find good healthy meals for a decent price since many of the touristy places offered only pizza, pasta and club sandwiches on the affordable side. But who wants to eat pizza in Greece, when there is a possibility to eat delicious Greek food?
So my question is, why is it so difficult to eat out in a healthy and affordable way? Are there any other alternatives while traveling?
Apparently there are!
This year we’ll be doing some epic traveling in Europe and around the world before we move to Australia. We figured that our choice of accommodation makes a huge difference to how we eat. It’s not that we don’t want to eat out every now and then, but most of the time we enjoy cooking ourselves because that is how we know exactly what is on our plates. A few days back at the local grocery store, we saw a “hot chocolate” mix on sale and looking at it more closely, we noticed it contained 78% sugar… If you are offered that same cocoa at a cafe, you might not even pay attention (although nowadays I would because Mr DN has managed to wean me off sugar by offering me hot chocolate that is made out of 100 % cocoa).
Our solution is to use a house letting service such as Airbnb or VRBO. Instead of reserving a hotel room for a week, we can rent out a whole apartment (studio) for a similar price or even less. The bonus is that we would have cooking facilities. Brilliant. Seriously, I just hadn’t considered this kind of option before because I had bought into this typical idea of travel which includes staying at a hotel.
One of my favourite things during travel has been checking out local grocery stores and markets to see what different ingredients and products they have to offer. Now we can actually utilize that possibility to the full extent by cooking with local produce. Our plan is to prepare two meals a day at the apartment (for example breakfast and lunch, or breakfast and dinner) and then we can choose to spend a bit more money on good quality food when we decide to eat out.
Benefits of using a house letting service (like AirBnB or VRBO)
1. You can eat on a normal schedule (in our experience some people, like Mrs DN, get a bit cranky when they don’t eat often enough)
2. You know what’s in your food
3. Cooking is more cost effective than eating out
4. You get to explore new ingredients
5. You can still eat out but can afford better meals because you are not eating out for all your meals
We have heard many good things about AirBnB from friends and family, but have never tried it before ourselves. This year we will definitely try it out and tell about our experiences once we are done with our travels. If you are a first time user like us, you can even google for free travel credit! We found 30 euros of free travel credit that we can use for our travels, pretty neat huh?
Have you tried AirBnB or another apartment renting sites for your travels? Have you figured out any other ways to save money on food while traveling?
Disclaimer: We are not affiliates of AirBNB, nor have we been paid for this blog post. We are, however, people who love to discover all different kinds of way to save money while creating great life experiences, and we think looking at different accommodation alternatives while travelling is one great way to do so!
Featured image by Robyn Randolph