Eden Pops In: How To Eat Economically in Your Hotel Room

by Eden on August 29, 2011

I’m beginning to think I just need to have everyone contribute all the time and post every week or so.

But since my internet access is stable now, I thought I’d write a little about what I’ve been up to lately.

The truth is, I’ve been up to A LOT, so I will more posts a little later and after the guest posts run out.

First and foremost, I’m sure some of you are wondering where the hell I’ve been.

Take a wild guess! Hint: orthodontics aren't really hip here

I’ve been trying to think of a clever way to recap. I’ll write more about my time in London in the near future, but today I thought I’d write about how I “eat on the cheap” and “ghetto picnic” in hotels when I travel.

Janetha and Susan are big fans of doing this pose in their hotel adventures, I'm gonna be a copycat

Now, don’t assume I have money for fancy shmancy hotels. My uncle works for Hilton so we stay in most Hiltons for the same price as we would for a sketchy motel where you find cigarette burns on your sheets a dead hooker insider the mattress (no offense to you hookers out there). Fun Random Eden Fact: My grandmother ran a hotel and my mom grew up in one. Hotel management is actually something that runs on my “mum’s” side of the family, as you can see.

However, this doesn’t mean we get to eat at the hotel restaurants for free. And I can assure you, hotels will try to milk as much money out of you and they love to do it via overpricing “meh” food.

Although I did eat plenty of meals out (you will read about those in a future post), I ate some meals and lots of snacks in my hotel room. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t short on fabulous! Here’s some tips to making those “in room ghetto meals” tasty and cheap:

1. Make Use of the Free Things: Many hotels offer free coffee and tea and even some biscuits. Make use of these things! I bought a pot of greek yogurt just like the one I have back home for 95p (about $1.30), added some instant coffee, and crumbled delicious biscoff biscuits I got for free. For under a pound, I had a delicious, somewhat healthy, rather filling snack!

Total Cost: 95p ( about $1.30, depending on how shitty the US economy is)

2. Assembly Required: Snacks are easy enough, but when it comes to “meals”, I can understand its harder to put together something decent in your room. But with a little assembly, its totally possible. For example, I bought some greens (£1 a bag which is about $1.50), a prawn and smoked salmon salad from a supermarket deli for £3.50, a little lemon I got for free from the coffee shop, and viola! A fancy looking salad in my room! To supplement, I had a bag of english crumpets which keep very well without refrigeration and that cost my about  £1.50 for a pack of six. I ate two and this held me over until afternoon tea (cause when in England, you must do tea!).

Total Cost:  about £5.50 (about $ 7.50 once again depending on how weak the US dollar is) but for a fresh, seafood salad, plus crumpets, thats pretty good!

3. Meals in, Snacks Out: Don’t think I had all my meals in a hotel room. That would be sad. When traveling, its not time to shun the local specialties and eat in every day! But I can understand why you might choose to have a few meals in your room to save money. To avoid feeling completely deprived, I suggest on days you have a meal in, have a snack out. My snack if choice? I love my gelato (I know, its England, not Italy). To be honest, I’m betting money this is more authentic than anything I get in the states because Italians can work in Europe legally and the guy I bought my gelato from was Italian. Being the indecisive Libra that I am, I let him chose for me his favorite flavor (always a good idea to do when your abroad). Luckily, his favorite flavor was nutella (well, his second favorite because his first favorite was the lemon sorbet and I refuse getting the sorbet).

Pardon my appearance, this after a rainy day, indoors with crappy lighting and after me yelling at my dad to not use flash

Total Cost:  £2.50 (about $4 dollars which is VERY tame for a specialty ice cream like gelato)

Ok, more guest posts ahead and more updates from the trip! I’m no longer in England but the food where I am NOW will make your appetite orgasm just from the smell!

What are your tricks for eating cheaply while traveling or while staying in hotels?

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{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

Coco August 29, 2011 at 4:54 am

When driving cross country we packed as much as possible to save money on food- and had extra empty containers. When we did stop at hotels we would make sure there was a continental breakfast- you can eat breakfast and take extra up to the room to pack and take on the road. Hard boiled eggs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, oatmeal and muffins are all easily packed. It saves money during the day and allows you to splurge on dinners! Hope your having a great time- I love your blog!

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Cameo August 29, 2011 at 5:08 am

Great tips! I love the pics. Europe is so freakin’ photogenic.

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Eden August 29, 2011 at 6:23 am

Indeed it is! And its way easier to buy things at the market here cause almost everything is fabulous.

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Missy August 29, 2011 at 5:17 am

Ooh I love the pics! Especially the first one! You is hot!
I usually take my own snacks when I travel and then buy cold items from a grocery store. I don’t travel much so it’s not a big issue but I do go armed with my food!
And I love instant coffe in yogurt like that – add some of the Capella pralines n cream flavor drops and it is absolutely to die for!
Have fun – can’t wait for your next post – I miss you!

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Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) August 29, 2011 at 11:18 am

Yes yes I bring the capella drops too- but that’s if I’m schlepping my blender- something I go in and out of doing, depending on how much damage control I think I’m gonna need and how sick I am of the hassle.

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Eden August 29, 2011 at 2:16 pm

I try not to bring too much from home so I don’t become too neurotic about having “my food” but I did bring a teeny bottle of stevia which I’m proud to say I only used once!

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Susan August 29, 2011 at 6:09 am

I’m glad you and your dad are having fun on your European adventure!

I appreciate your frugality because eating out every meal is just not practical for most of us. I especially like the meals in, snacks out tip. And coffee is always moochable.

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Colleen August 29, 2011 at 6:16 am

This probably wouldnt work for anywhere you have to fly, but when my sisters and I went to the beach, we packed my George Foreman grill. With minimal grocery shopping, we had waffles and mimosas for breakfast, quesadillas for lunch, then went out for dinner. It was awesome!

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Eden August 29, 2011 at 6:24 am

If I wasn’t so keen on packing light, I’d totally do that. Most hotel rooms do have a hot water kettle so perfect for instant soups and mashed potatoes.

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Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) August 29, 2011 at 11:19 am

Genius! I have a teeeny little george forman and I’d totally do that if I was in the states!

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Cammy August 29, 2011 at 7:42 am

I actually spent all weekend in a motel room hiding from Irene (no dead hookers there, unfortunately, but I did have a maintenance guy come through the AC shaft), and played Natural Disaster Refugee with all of my food stocks in the room in case the storm reached farther inland than expected (it didn’t). I’ve found it’s worth the extra $10 or so to stay in a room with a microwave and fridge. I’m not all that fancy, though, and tend to just get plenty of fruit, yogurt, microwavable soups, sandwiches, Luna bars, etc. You can make oatmeal with either hot tap water or by running water through the coffee machine with no coffee in it (or, if you want some kicking oatmeal, just make it with coffee…). My crappy motel had a concomitantly crappy microwave, though, and it nearly exploded (lots of blue lightning and sci-fi zapping noises) when I tried my microwavable soup, I guess because of the tiny metal edge that’s left when you pull the top off, although that’s never happened to me when heating them at home.

One item I learned the hard way: utensils! I had all my yogurt soup and forgot to buy plastic spoons. I took about 15 minutes eating a yogurt with the ridiculous little tuna spreader from a tuna snack pack and then gave up and walked to the McDonalds next door to steal some plasticware.

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Eden August 29, 2011 at 8:12 am

Oh dear! I’ve been concerned about readers in the hurricane areas!
I never knew McDonalds had utensils! All I’ve the things I’ve eaten there required nothing more than my hands and maybe a straw 😉

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Cammy August 29, 2011 at 11:24 am

Yes, they keep some on hand for the few freaks that wander through ordering salads and oatmeal. I hope that your flight home isn’t affected by the backlogs from all the canceled flights on the east coast. Travel safe!

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Eden August 29, 2011 at 2:19 pm

I return with a stop in Washington DC but about a week from now. Crossing my fingers Irene will be in Mars by then.

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Nagore August 29, 2011 at 8:11 am

I loved London exactly 1 year ago!! It was pretty cold and rainy but still it’s one of my favourite cities! I loved the Leicester Square surroundings (it looked a very hippy area!). Maybe it’s not the aim of your blog, but could you precise in what hotels you stayed? im obsessed with nice/affordable hotels! sorry if I ask too much :(

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Eden August 29, 2011 at 8:19 am

I’m usually always at a hilton no matter where I go. Normally, hiltons are kinda pricy but my uncle works for hilton so I get it for very cheap. However, I’m a bit of a hotel price sleuth since my family is in the hotel biz. Your best bet is hotel bidding website like hotwire.com. I got a great room when I went to San Francisco at a four star hotel with a pool, gym, and internet access for only 106 bucks a night (plus breakfast). Another good idea is to join the Hilton Rewards program. Its kind of like frequent flying but with hotels. You get lots of perks, free nights, and fun upgrades. Plus, nearly every city has a hilton.

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Nagore August 29, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Thank you very much. We were at a very good hostel when we visited Amsterdam (if your family belongs to Belgium you probably know that area better than me), but in case you visit Spain ask for advice. This shouldnt have sounded pretentious!

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lindsay August 29, 2011 at 8:28 am

ahh, love london. You better enjoy it girl. eat fish and chips please! Lots of it and Mind th gap!.

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Marina August 29, 2011 at 8:31 am

I was in London last week as well :)
I stayed at a b&b, and all of my meals, except breakfast, were restaurant meals. For me, that’s one of the perks of travelling, trying different cousines, restaurants, and exploring. But I did stay away from british food, it’s really awful :))

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Eden August 29, 2011 at 8:35 am

Aww british food isn’t so bad! I think its gotten a lot better in the past few years. Its so easy to grab a healthy lunch on-the-go there! Way easier than in LA surprisingly!

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Marina August 29, 2011 at 9:17 am

Yeah, they have a lot of cute food shops, like pret a manger, and I love it! We don’t have anything like that over here in Croatia. I love the variety. I meant the traditional british foods, like sausages for breakfast and such :)

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Eden August 29, 2011 at 2:05 pm

YES! Pret it my favorite too! I love their hot chocolate too!

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Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) August 29, 2011 at 11:22 am

I agree- British food options are amazing these days. I have half a post written (shocking) about the things I love about the UK and one of them are the SUPER healthy and DELISH grab&go options everywhere- AND they have the calorie counts on them- even at GAS stations!!! LOVE!

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Eden August 29, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Yea, I was impressed with the gas stations too! They had grapes and even shrimp cocktail! Can you imagine that in a gas station in LA?

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Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) August 29, 2011 at 5:12 pm

God no! And the calories? And really, really good sandwiches??? we’ve had some of our best food from grab&go options. I have a photo of these gorgeous sandwiches in fancy wicker baskets AT A GAS STATION that one day in the year 2014 I’ll post on my blog.

jack24 August 29, 2011 at 6:02 pm

marks and spenceer at petrol stations no less. hope u had great time over here. gutted would have loved to meet you, not in the freak/stalker way mind. as in tea and sconeS !! SAFE JOURNEY EDEN AND DAD

Katie August 29, 2011 at 8:47 am

Well, seeing as how I’ve never traveled, I have no idea how I’d eat cheaply. But when I DO…I’ll use this post as my guide. :-)

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Amanda August 29, 2011 at 8:48 am

Andy still needs to send you a guest post. I forgot to remind him!

I love that we are both libras. October b-days rule. Instant coffee with fage? I NEED to try this.

Lemon sorbet is my fave and nutella is my second fave. Was that my imposter?

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Annie August 29, 2011 at 8:51 am

London is my favorite city. I have spent lots of time there and am so jealous of you right now. I hope you had some good curry while you were there.

My family is all about being frugal while traveling. Our go-to tip is to picnic for lunch. Buy a nice loaf of bread and a hunk of good cheese – I like the orange Leicester when in England. That’s your base. If you have access to a fridge or a bigger group, you can add on butter and deli meats (especially delicious in Italy). Fresh fruit from the grocery store and a bottle of wine or some beer. Now that more and more wines have screw caps, you don’t even need a bottle opener! Last thing, find a pretty spot to eat.

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Missy August 29, 2011 at 9:07 am

So …did you get the gelato guy’s number?

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Lindsay @ Lindsay's List August 29, 2011 at 10:18 am

Glad to know that you’re doing ok! I would have never thought to use the instant coffee in yogurt, but that’s why I’m not a chef, and you are. You’re like a chef McGuyver.
P.S.I think it’s perfectly acceptable to try to be like Janetha and Deb. They kinda rock…

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Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) August 29, 2011 at 11:23 am

Aww, you’re too sweet Lindsay! but I don’t think i”ve ever taken a photo of myself at a hotel- not yet! I need to get on that trend! :-)

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Eden August 29, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Yes, you do! Im waiting for Janetha and Susan to duke it out as to who started that trend!

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Missy August 29, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Now you know Janetha invented that pose 😉 !!!!

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Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) August 29, 2011 at 5:13 pm

I do? Crap, now I have early onset dementia as well.

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Eden August 29, 2011 at 2:06 pm

I’ve always been a bit of a McGuyver…. or maybe a McGirler

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Lindsay @ Lindsay's List August 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Deb- I’m making your protein fudge muffin right now. My first time ever.
Eden – please tell me you saw McGruber!

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Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) August 29, 2011 at 11:15 am

If my eyes don’t deceive me, I notice two things:
1) You are looking so thin and I hope it’s just some camera effect (I’m just being your older concerned sister here)
2) You curled your cucumbers all fancy-like!! Dude that rocks!!

Yes, perfect suggestions and I do those regularly. Sad as it is, I try to eat ghetto hotel picnics pretty often as damage control for the rest of the time that we are out enjoying the real food. My addition with the salad is that I buy the precut veggies that are intended for stir-fries- they often come with their own plastic tub- then you don’t have to go around looking for big plates upon which to eat your salad.

Also I DO bring my protein muffins because they are so filling. I make a big batch and freeze them before I leave the country. Then I bring them in my standard cooler bag that I always have attached to my body and when I get to my destination I refreeze them (yes it’s ok to do this!!) I sometimes need to ask for a fridge for my room (teeny one) …in the states they are good about this- not so much in europe. In europe I might have my ghetto fridge for my yogurts/protein muffins to be a bucket with ice. you can judge but it keeps me from gaining 10 pounds in 14 days, I swear.

I also buy sturdy things to keep in the room- interesting crackers, apples, carrots.

I miss you! Hope you’re having a good time.

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Eden August 29, 2011 at 2:12 pm

1) camera affect I think, cause I only took this shot the first day I got there so I couldn’t have changed THAT much. But I should warn that despite eating out a lot when I travel and not really exercising in a gym, I do seem to lose weight when I travel cause I don’t graze like I do at home where I have food all over the place. Weird, I know.
2) Cucumbers came with the pre-packed salad. Fancy for sainsbury! I laid them all nicely on the plate which I kindly got from room service with utensils at no charge.

I cant believe you bring the muffins! Yea, the room I’m in now has a mini bar with a note that reads:
“should you wish to have the mini bar emptied, you will be charged 15 euro.”
WTF? If I’m not eating from the mini bar, I still have to pay!?
PS, a small can of coke is 6 euros from the mini bar! Thats petty theft if you ask me!

I miss you too! I really mean it when I say, “I wish you were here”!!!!

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tori August 29, 2011 at 11:43 am

Erm, did you have access to a toaster in your hotel room then, or did you eat your crumpets RAW? Yuck if so! Those things are designed to be toasted, preferably on an open fire but if necessary, a toaster will suffice! Just didn’t want you to think us brits were even more weird than we actually are…

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Eden August 29, 2011 at 1:30 pm

No access to a toast IN the room but the hotel did have a few of them at the lounge for no charge!

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Eden August 29, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Oh, and you guys ARE NOT WEIRD! Trust me, I’m the queen of weird!

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Sara K August 29, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I was just in Stockholm staying at a hotel while visiting for my uncle’s wedding and my trick was to accept every dinner invitation to go out with my uncle and his wife…on their dime (or kronor rather). Nah, but besides that fantastic hospitality I find that going to local markets/food halls and picking up a few ingredients for a make-shift meal usually works out pretty well.
My friend and I are now in Finland staying in my apartment and eating out here is RIDICULOUS thanks to how shitty the US $ fares to the Euro, as a result we’re more than happy making cheap meals out of this country’s primary food groups: Cheese, Bread, and ice cream

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Eden August 29, 2011 at 2:15 pm

I’m in a euro currency zone too now (I’ll reveal where in a later post 😉 ) and it IS ridiculous. I remember when the Euro first came out, I was in france at the time and the euro was less than the dollar. Ah….those were the good old days.

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natalie (the sweets life) August 29, 2011 at 2:33 pm

ha ryan and i went to london right after we were married and were so poor…granted we still try to travel on the cheap but when we went there we were literally buying rolls from the grocery store for bfast in an attempt to save $$ :) we did discovered greek yogurt there though which was pretty awesome!

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Jennie (the gf-gf) August 29, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Looks like a great vacation! I’ve never been to London, I’m jealous. Can’t wait to hear more about it!

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julie August 29, 2011 at 5:12 pm

focker out. hahahaha that just reminded me of when you said meals in snacks out. you look fierce in the janetha pose btw 😉

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Pure2raw twins August 29, 2011 at 6:23 pm

ah, wonder where you have been! look forward to your recaps! i love London!!

as for snacks, I usually bring my own food with me 😉

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Pure2raw twins August 29, 2011 at 6:23 pm

opps forgot to say this is Michelle

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Kelsey @ Snacking Squirrel August 29, 2011 at 6:39 pm

the only memories i have of hotel rooms are basically with my family… sending my mom across the street to a grocery store to pick up a big roast chicken… then the moment she came back we would (all 5 of us) devour the chicken like a bunch of modern neanderthals.. lol, it definitely helped us save money…5-7$ dinner for 5, not bad! 😉

xoxo <3

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MelissaNibbles August 30, 2011 at 2:28 am

Did you see Kate and William?! Kidding.

I usually find a local grocery store and stock up on things to keep in my room. Enjoy your trip!

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Eden August 30, 2011 at 5:25 am

Yea, I saw William at this pharmacy called “Boots” getting rogaine and Kate eating bangers and mash at a pub…
nah! The british obviously don’t have rogaine and Kate seems allergic to eating.

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Cecilia August 30, 2011 at 2:45 am

Just a tip, get some aluminium foil (using it to wrap), and you can use the hotel iron to toast your bread/sandwich that way!

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Eden August 30, 2011 at 5:21 am

Love that idea. My hotel room now has a steamer, I wonder if in can do rice and veggies?

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Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli August 30, 2011 at 5:56 am

Dang girl, way to make a ghetto hotel room salad look gourmet! Whenever I’m traveling, I always try to save the bucks for dining out so eating snacks in is always a must!

Nutella gelato? I die!

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Eden August 30, 2011 at 7:03 am

Its all in the lighting and presentation 😉
and I did die with that gelato, but simultaneously resurrected.

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Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) August 30, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Tip: Eat breakfast in the hotel (buy muffins/fruit/etc. at the grocery store and keep in the room), a cheap lunch out (food court/food cart), and then a nicer dinner.

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Deborah August 30, 2011 at 10:33 pm

I don’t get to travel nearly as often as I’d like to, so I don’t have any grand tips on great ways to eat cheaply. But your tips are definitely good ones! I’ve only been to Europe once, and we mainly ate street food the whole time, which was generally pretty cheap. And – I want some of that gelato right now!!

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janetha August 31, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I WISH I WAS WITH YOU.

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Tiffany September 4, 2011 at 12:49 pm

These are some great tips in the comments section. I’m going to Italy this wk and will be traveling to a few surrounding countries as well and will have to keep these in mind. We are doing the hostel thing to save some money and even though, I’m a little scared, I’m excited to see what they are like. I am definitely trying the coffee/greek yogurt concoction.

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