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Four Tips for Frugal Travel
Tip 1: Skip a Restaurant Meal at least Once a Day

As we begin to plan summer getaways, let's think about ways we can save money on those trips without sacrificing fun, comfort or safety.

Are two expensive sit-down meals really necessary? Should you pay full price at an empty motel when all you want is a few hours sleep?

Consider four ways to lower your travel bills.

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Many travelers find it isn't dinner that kills their food budgets each day. The culprits: those other meals and impulse snacks.

I firmly believe that sampling the food of a culture is as important as visiting its museums and markets. The occasional splurge at a nice restaurant with the best local cuisine is a must--even on a budget trip.

How can it be done?

Start by taking breakfast at your hotel, motel or hostel if it is offered. In Europe and other places, it often is included in the cost of the lodging. If not, find a place that offers hearty eating at a modest price.

This leaves two meals in the day: lunch and dinner.

Some budget travelers prefer to have their big, relatively expensive meal at lunch, where there is often a better value. Others want the experience of dining nicely after dark. Whatever your preference, make a promise that you'll choose one for a restaurant and the other for low-cost alternatives.

These "other" options are not necessarily going to be spartan. What they will offer is a big relief from the profit margins of a full service restaurant. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Visit the supermarket (or open-air market) and pack a picnic lunch.
  • Eat a light snack with fruit or cheese at midday, especially if the breakfast was large and filling.
  • Find a carry-out style pizza place. Pizza tends to be filling and inexpensive so long as it isn't a specialized variety. This works well for dinners overseas if money is running short.

If you can limit your travel expenditures to one restaurant meal a day, or at least eliminate one restaurant meal daily, you'll see a savings on the food totals that could make a big difference.

After all, food is often among the biggest expenditures on a trip. Lodging is another.

Next page > Make the Motel an Offer > Page 3, 4

Photograph (c) 2002 Mark Kahler, licensed to About.com, Inc.

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