Tightarse travel: eat more for less

Three tried and tested ways to save money on food and drink while travelling.

Tightarse travel: eat more for less

SJ is a regular travel contributor to YourLifeChoices. Her favourite travel ritual is an afternoon Aperol Spritz, preferably enjoyed pool or beach side.

Some of the best travel advice my mum ever gave me was the bread roll in the handbag trick. Exactly as it sounds, so long as you have breakfast included at your accommodation, simply sneak a bread roll or two into your bag to snack on later when hunger strikes again.

When you look at where most of your money is spent while travelling, taking out the big ticket items such as your airfare and accommodation, the majority of what’s left usually goes on eating and drinking. As someone who enjoys good food and wine as much as the next person, there’s nothing wrong with this. But for both your waist and wallet’s sakes, it’s good to take a break from eating out all the time.

Here are three tried and tested ways to save money on food and drink while travelling:

breakfast buffet

1. Breakfast buffets
Breakfast has long been my favourite meal and I wholeheartedly agree with the statement that it is the most important meal of the day. After a couple trips this year staying in apartments that did not include breakfast, I would now recommend opting for accommodation that does. The simple reason being that a big breakfast can mean that you can skip lunch or have a light lunch, and save money later in the day. Not only is it one less cost you have to factor in, it’s so easy to roll out of bed, throw on some clothes and hit breakfast rather than thinking about where you need to venture out to find some food first thing in the morning, when all your brain can think about is coffee. Being gluten free I often opt for an apple but, as Kaye taught me, if there’s bread rolls, fruit or other easy (and safe) to stash foods on offer sneak some in your bag for morning or afternoon tea – two meals down, three to go!

2. Markets
Often on many tourists’ sightseeing lists anyway, markets are not only a great way to see a city and its culture, they also make for a fantastic cheap feed. Featuring some of the destination’s best produce, many markets will have sections where you can sit and try dishes, or you can wander round and see what takes your fancy. If there’s a few of you, why not grab some different bits and pieces and head to a local green space for a picnic? Stock up on fruit and nuts for snacks during the day and don’t forget to try the samples – they are priceless after all!

3. Aperitvos
Ahh aperitvos, one of the many reasons I love Italy so much. The Italians are definitely onto something with this idea. When it hits 5pm or 6pm in Italy, many bars and restaurants will lay out the most amazing spreads, which usually consist of olives, bread, cold cuts, cheese and mini tapas-style bites such as quiches and bruschetta. The best part about aperitvos is they are free for you to enjoy if you purchase a drink.

Recently in Rome my mum and I stumbled across such a restaurant we were hoping to have dinner at, only to find out they were fully booked. Thankfully they had the most extensive spread of dishes laid out which were free to enjoy with a drink. Selecting for a glass of wine, four plates later we rolled out the door so full we no longer needed dinner a solution which cost us less than 15 euros!

While not every country has adopted aperitvos (even though they clearly should) most bars will serve some sort of complimentary snacks when you order a drink. The only downside is if you’re very hungry you’re going to have to drink a lot…

How do you get more bang for you buck when it comes to feeding yourself while travelling? We’d love to hear your tricks and tips in the comments.



    To make a comment, please register or login
    22nd Oct 2016
    The first tip to steal food from the buffet is despicable.No wonder the price of buffets is increasing so much.We have been told that guests are even stealing cutlery from some establishments.There is no need to make a pig of yourself when eating out at buffets.How often do you see people piling food onto their plates and then leaving half of it.
    Also you need to eat at regular times to stay healthy.Skipping lunch because you have pigged out at breakie is not good.
    22nd Oct 2016
    Popping 1 bread roll into the bag is not 'stealing'. You pay for the breakfast and could have eaten ten times as much if you wanted to.
    Some folk are a bit brazen though and decency needs to be observed. I do not agree that taking one extra item of food like a bread roll is despicable and I side with Sue on this one.
    We are all different Young. Whilst travelling many people do not eat the same as they do at home and I would argue that one might be healthier missing meals than eating and sitting as one tends to do at home. I lose 5 kg every time I travel overseas and feel great. Missing lunches and/or snacking at lunch is a big part of that.
    22nd Oct 2016
    I'm a grazer so I never eat as much at a meal as most people. I'm also small and reasonably thin. I always take an extra roll, cheese and a piece of fruit from the breakfast buffet for lunch. I do it quite openly though and have never been pulled up. If not eaten the food is usually thrown out anyway.
    22nd Oct 2016
    I agree with Young - 'stashing' is a euphemism for stealing!
    22nd Oct 2016
    Unless there is a particular reason for going to a restaurant I get my food and drinks from supermarkets - packaged sandwiches and salads, and often more elaborate plates.
    22nd Oct 2016
    In the nineties, my wife and I were on an organised tour going through the rineland in Germany.
    We stayed in a small hotel and the next morning the buffet ran out as a large number of fellow travellers had filled their bags with breadrolls etc. the late comers had no breakfast!
    If that is not stealing what is??
    22nd Oct 2016
    If you like soup, then they are usually a cheap, healthy option when travelling. If you pay for breakfast, then saving a bread roll, or piece of fruit for later is hardly stealing
    22nd Oct 2016
    Stocking up and filling bags would of course be very wrong!

    22nd Oct 2016
    This article condones talking something from where it should be consumed and borders on the line of proving theft. NO ONE is squeaky clean, but from the comments above, to "stash" certainly doesn't get unanimous approval.
    Another thing - if you are a tightarse and like to eat a lot don't forget to take along a laxative.
    Happy "stashing". Abominable!
    22nd Oct 2016
    So now we know why women cart such huge useless handbags down to breakfast.

    I've never felt the need to steal food, even if I have paid for a meal. Secreting it somewhere without it making a mess, and then getting it out of the restaurant is something I couldn't be bothered doing to save maybe $1. My travel budget is constrained, but fortunately, I have never needed to steal to make ends meet.

    I also have favourite hotels I like to stay. They treat me well each time I check in, so I want to maintain that relationship. I had to go to emergency dept at a hospital in Singapore last year, and the hotel I stay in organised a cab and everything for me. When I got the bill on check out, there was no charge for the cab or this help. Why would I steal a 50 cent bread roll from them?

    If I have breakfast included in my hotel room rate, then I eat a reasonable meal, and usually by lunchtime, all I really need is a cup of tea and a snack. Like someone else said, I tend to buy my food in the local supermarkets, 7-11's etc. We eat way too much on holidays because we are relaxed. Missing lunch occasionally won't cause too many problems.

    Apparently hotels are starting to clamp down on the thieves. Not sure how they can police it, but action of some sort has to start somewhere.
    Funny face
    22nd Oct 2016
    I've recently come home from trip to England. Breakfast was included at the guest houses and bed and breakfasts. Some just continental, but the B and B all seemed to have a full cooked breakfast on offer. Most people had this willingly!
    As I'm not a breakfast person st all I had a small serving of yoghurt and that's it! I did ask at every place whether I may take a banana for later ( lunch, sometimes dinner!) , no one had a problem with it at all. I didn't consider it " stealing", I was saving them lots on breakfast anyway and I made sure I asked. If you think I've done wrong, well, sorry about that- but I've taken nothing form them- I still saved them money and time!
    22nd Oct 2016
    The difference Funny Face is that you asked and received permission. You did not 'sneak' anything. Its that use of the word 'sneak' that makes it unethical. What you do is entirely different.
    22nd Oct 2016

    Asking if you may have something is a different matter altogether.
    22nd Oct 2016
    Of course taking a bread roll from the buffet, to be consumed later, is stealing. Do you take ham and cheese to eat with your roll as well? What about some fruit too? Some Australian travelers give the rest of us a bad name. I have never seen gluten free rolls on a buffet, so what do YOU do with the bread roll!!!
    23rd Oct 2016
    What really gives Australians a bad name are the overweight that load up their plates two or three times at a buffet as if they had never been fed before.
    Pat D
    23rd Oct 2016
    I have made up a roll at breakfast with ham/cheese after I've had my breakfast,wrapped it in a paper napkin and taken it with me for later. I don't consider this stealing as I could have eaten it there and the food was offered to me as part of my paid buffet.
    Chris B T
    23rd Oct 2016
    Most buffet affairs the food is on display for hours and possibly handled by others sellecting the better bread rolls, cakes, fruit etc. Some have chillers others just have ice bath type of chilling for refrigerated items if you are lucky. Milk left out of frige for easy use but for how long?
    Unless the establishment are tightarse's as well the food would be discarded except fruit (even handle multiple times)
    Even to apoint sealed packaged jams, butter etc left on plates are discarded.
    More to the point if you return to buffet to replenish your plate you should use a clean one so no minor mishaps with your plate and spoil the food at buffet.
    The rule of thumb you touch it, it is yours. (Personal Hygiene can not be understated)
    23rd Oct 2016
    There is a long thread on Australian Frequent Flyer today about people stealing food from airline lounges, hotel breakfast buffets etc. Originated with a post on another site, with a pic of a woman in a Chinese hotel, filling up a Tupperware container with food.
    25th Oct 2016
    I was incensed to read this article condoning stealing.
    The hotels provide breakfast, not breakfast and lunch.
    If you have to sneak it into your bag, you are stealing just as much as if you had snuck a bread roll from a supermarket into your bag.
    If everyone on a 40 person tour stole a bread roll or two and a banana how much extra food would these establishments have to provide so people can eat lunch.
    The people who say they are not stealing are selfish and are kidding themselves
    Margaret Thompson
    25th Oct 2016
    Oh dear me - such condemnation! The article, as I read it, was a light-hearted piece of travel advice and I'm sure not meant to bring out such harsh judgement of one person's opinion. I remember a "cheapskate" column from the USA in which a fellow cheapskate suggested recharging their mobile phone at work as a way of saving money and, oh!, the number of sad sacks who came out of the webisphere to condemn this person. So sad how we can find so much time in our day to judge others publically and advertise our own flawless values. I wonder if those of us who are so quick to judge actually do anything useful to or positive for others.
    Or, in a nutshell, shut up you sad little people with nothing positive or of worth to say - if you can't say something nice, say nothing at all. Geez.

    Tags: travel, food, tips

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