While I would love to tell you there is a simple way to stay totally on track while traveling and eating naturally, I can’t. I truthfully have problems some days staying on track while at home. Since we will be embarking on our trip to Atlanta and then on to Orlando soon I have been preparing myself for the next two weeks or so of eating while on the go.
Growing up in a large family we made many road trips. As a family of seven, it was costly to fly and we lived away from my Mother’s family for most of my life. I can truly say I have such fond memories of our road trips. Usually twice a year we would pile into the van or station wagon and make our way half-way across the country. My father would travel with us usually once a year and then my Mother (who was amazing) would take all five of us on her own. My Mother was a queen at pinching pennies so she could be a stay at home Mom. So before a long trip, not only did she have to pack and prepare all five of us for the trip, she would also pack and prepare delicious food for along the way.
Since we traveled the same roads many times, we had our favorite rest areas we would stop at along the way to get out, stretch our legs, run around and most importantly-eat! Mother would usually make a batch of homemade fried chicken (it was so delicious), potato salad and veggie slices for lunch. It was by far more economical to bring our food and much better for us than fast food.
So following my Mother’s example here are a few ways we plan to try to not only save money while traveling but also try to eat as natural as possible:
Pack homemade food for road trips-If my plans are not derailed by work, I plan to make (the children’s choice) something for us to take along for breakfast. Lunch will either be salmon dip and humus accompanied by crackers or sandwiches accompanied by organic chips, fruit and veggies. Dinner will likely be a homemade pasta salad with cucumbers, olives and pepperoni. Those are all items that do not require a great deal of time to prepare and only need a cooler and ice to keep. Drinks can easily add up, so packing enough water and juice or milk for the drive will also save a great deal.
Try to stay at a hotel that offers a free breakfast-When we arrive in Atlanta, the hotel that we are staying at offers a free breakfast so we will need to take care of lunch and dinners.
Find a nearby store-I have already located the nearest Whole Foods Market (less than 5 miles from our hotel) that will one of my first stops. I will pick up easy non-perishable snack items that can be taken along in our bags as well as easy lunch items for the next several days.
Pack snacks and water bottles-Especially will this be important on the days we visit Disney, Sea World and the Georgia Aquarium, but you can save so much money packing water, fresh fruits, nuts, crackers, granola bars and even dare I say, chocolate than purchasing snacks while out and about. Many places will refill your water bottle for free versus paying over $2.00 a bottle.
Find Green Restaurants-Our dinners while in Atlanta will be at local restaurants that serve local and organic foods. I actually found a site for the first time, Organic Travel that lists many of the green places to stay and eat at while traveling. Of course it is not all inclusive, but I was able to get a really nice list of restaurants near Atlanta that we are going to try to locate! If you are traveling, be sure to see if you can find green hotels and restaurants near your stay.
Splurge on lunch instead of dinner-If you have the position to choose, you can save a lot of money dining at a restaurant for lunch versus dinner time. Make your noon time meal your big meal of the day and eat a lighter, snacky type dinner.
Look for coupons-If you know the location you will be staying, try to locate coupons for the restaurants in that area. Sign-up for the online clubs many restaurants offer to get coupons emailed to you. Many times you will get a free appetizer or even a buy 1 get 1 free coupon for an entrée. It also is very beneficial to seek out restaurants that offer free children’s meals with a paying adult. That can add up quickly!
Above all, as we do wish to try to focus on eating healthy while we are away, I am going to try to relax. As much as I would love to say we eat organically 100% of the time, we have yet to attain that. I know two weeks will not harm us but I hope that with some planning and a little effort we can still try to stay on track with our eating journey. We have been discussing a need to compromise for the trip, maybe 60/40. I can handle that for two weeks.
To help us stay on budget, we will have a specific amount available to spend each day. Some days we will need to eat away from a hotel or family members home for all three meals (hopefully only once, hence visiting Whole Foods), other days it may only be once. By planning ahead I can make sure that at the end of our vacation we are not panicked by the amount of money we have spent.
While fairly basic ideas, they do require a little planning and forethought. In the end, we will not only save some money, we will also have a much smoother and healthier vacation.
Do you have any money-saving suggestions for eating while traveling?