Travel Tip Tuesday: Rethinking Food

Eating as a thrice-daily activity is not only a time-consuming endeavor, it is also costly when on a budget trip. I am usually only at my destination for about 24 (and sometimes as little as two) hours. I do take great delight in sampling the local culinary favorites, but I also want to experience the sights as much as possible. So I have devised a little system to keep my belly happy, my wallet thick, and my schedule wide open. Here are five ideas:

The two-minute power-up
Downing a quick banana and a handful of almonds wraps the breakfast hour into a tidy two minutes. Between the sugars and potassium of the fruit and the protein in the nuts, this quick bite will keep you going for at least a few hours. The items can be bought the night before at almost any gas station for two bucks or less.

Eat big at 11
Grab the extra-large muffaletta, two Chicago dogs all the way, the whole pizza pie, or whatever pile of calories delights you, and get it in your gut before noon. Two reasons why. First, you will beat the lunch crowd and the chef will whip up your order in half the time. And second, for some bizarre, unknown rationale, restaurant food in the USA is cheap at lunchtime and costly for supper. This strategy will save you big time and shekels, leaving plenty for that bike rental or elevator ride to the top of the Empire State Building.

Rest and Digest, at 40 mph
After eating huge, nothing sounds as good as a nap. But napping and BlinkPacking rarely mix, so instead, hop on the public transit and head for the faraway neighborhood you want to investigate. The half hour on the bus or subway is usually enough to get you feeling like yourself again, and you didn’t waste any of that time sitting still.

Breakfast for Supper
When suppertime rolls around, the good news is that you are already full. Remember? You ate huge at lunchtime. Well done, grasshopper. Perhaps a half-sandwich or a quick bite from a food cart will top off the tank and get you ramped up for some nightlife. But alas, nothing works up an appetite like BlinkPacking. If you find yourself truly hungry, hit a local diner — most offer round-the-clock breakfast service and the items on that portion of the menu offer serious bang for the buck. Load up on eggs, waffles, potatoes, and bacon, and be ye hungry no longer.

Bonus points
If you follow this protocol to the letter, you will save big on time and money. No question. However, for all you overachievers out there, you can take the strategy to the next level. Simply order all of your food to go and speed-walk to your next destination as you inhale that grub-a-dub-dub.

While on foot, I have consumed sandwiches, salads, gyros, pizza, pasta, fried chicken, waffles, hotdogs, lo mein, chili, toasted ravioli, patty melts, and ice cream, among other things. Sure, there are better ways to enjoy that which you are eating, but on a lightning-fast trip, there is no way you can slow this BlinkPacker down.

Do you have any additional tips for saving time and money, while still enjoying local fare and feeling full?


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