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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

How To Get More Exercise On Vacation

I don't exercise much, but I do try to keep in shape by eating right and parking further from the store to walk more and taking the stairs. When on vacation it's hard to eat that healthy, especially when you want to try all the good foods, so I look for ways to burn more calories when I'm out and about...and make the effort to order more vegetables. 


When on vacation it's hard to eat that healthy, especially when you want to try all the good foods, so I look for ways to burn more calories when I'm out and about.

Walk Whenever Possible

Instead of driving or taking public transit, try walking. Some destinations are more walkable than others, but you can easily walk 4-10 miles in a day (or more if you're going to a theme park) without even noticing. Look at your map and see how far your destination is for the day (maybe plan some things that are close to each other) and strap on your walking shoes if you think it's doable. At a slow pace, you can walk a mile in 15 minutes, which isn't that long or that far. Of course, if you're like me, you're more likely to want to walk in the morning when your feet are fresh, so give yourself some motivation to get up and stretch your legs. You can take the subway later in the day, but you may face lots of stairs with this option, too. 

Besides the obvious benefits of walking, you will be able to slow down and see more of your destination, possibly finding some hidden gems along the way. We saw a really good portion of London by just wandering around. Just remember to stay aware of where you are and what's around you to stay safe. 

Get Up Early and Use the Gym

Lots of hotels we've stayed in have had workout rooms that are free for all to use. Now we stay in vacation rentals or timeshares, but many of them have gyms included as well. The same goes for cruise ships. Now, I find that I never actually make it to the gym, even though I say I will, but if I made more of an effort, I would at least make it down to get on the elliptical for a bit. If you're on a business trip, this may be the only exercise you get, so make sure to pack suitable clothes. My pajamas are generally a pair of running shorts and t-shirt, so I am set.

Or  Exercise in Your Room

This is easier to do when you have a vacation rental or a suite, where there is actual room for you to move around, but even if you only have a little free space and a chair, you can get in some extra calorie-burning:
  • Chair crunches - I love the fact that if you have a chair, you pretty much have a low-impact gym. Sit on the edge and pull legs up or do the bicycle or other ab exercises like these
  • Work your triceps - These also use a chair, though you can use anything flat and sturdy. At home, I use my coffee table, but you can also use a park bench. 
  • Planks - Work your core! They hurt, but I assume when I see results, they will be all worth it!
  • Squats - Work your butt. You can do these outside, too, but people might you funny looks. If you want to get more advanced, go find yourself a bench and do some step-ups.
  • Calf raises - Do these anywhere, like brushing your teeth, watching the news or waiting in line to get into the Louvre.
  • Arm curls - You can do these just about everywhere. Buy a couple of water bottles and use them as make-shift weights. If these aren't doing the trick and you don't have anything heavier around that could work, check out these traveling dumbbells called AquaBells that you fill with water for your workouts. 
  • Resist! Pack a resistance band (or set) in your carry-on and do more strenuous workouts in the time you have available. There are also these fancy loop bands you can use to strengthen your legs/thighs.

Get In the Pool

Eric prefers to get his extra workout in the form of swimming. If there's a pool, he's going to get in it and do some laps. I'm not a swimmer, but I'll come sit for moral support. Usually, this is when I do laundry. Lugging a laundry basket to and from my room counts as exercise, right?

Rent a Bike

The only thing better than walking your destination is getting around by bike. Lots of destinations now have city bikes you can rent by the hour or the day. See the city in a totally different way by riding around and moving those legs. Bonus is that many of them have baskets, so you have a place to put purchases and/or your day bag. 

Drink More Water

This isn't strictly helpful in exercising, but it will give you more energy if you stay hydrated, meaning you won't want to just be a lump (anymore than usual) when you could be exploring the city on foot or checking out another museum. It also helps if you don't overeat. If you're hungry, but not starving, remember that most places will serve you at least 1.5 times as much as you should eat. Sharing a plate is a way to satisfy your hunger without loading you down with carbs or other heavy foods, so you won't feel like a nap in the middle of the day and drag, because walking is more beneficial when you do it at a brisk pace.

Do you exercise when you travel? What's your favorite way to burn all those calories you ingested over the course of each day?

Saturday, September 18, 2021

The True Cost of a Road Trip

Later this month, Eric and I will be heading south on a road trip to Las Vegas by way of Reno and back. I'll be posting along the way of our stops and food and such. While I have a lot of experience road tripping, I know others do not and aren't always prepared for the costs if they don't plan ahead of time. 

The Cost of a Road Trip to the Top 10 U.S. Vacation Cities
                                          by IDRIVESAFELY. From Visually.

Packing well and booking ahead can help save you quite a bit of money, but if you're traveling during the shoulder or off-season, look for coupons and deals for hotels along the way at rest stops. 

How do you save money on your road trips?

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Dining On A Budget

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I love to eat and it can be one of the best things about traveling. I will plan whole days around places I want to eat, but I also plan ahead to save money on food before I leave, so I can afford to splurge on a few meals and also eat more often than usual, since I am always hungry when out in the fresh air. 

Here are just a few of the rules I follow to get the best bargains on food and keep my wallet from emptying out by the end of the first day.

If you’re like me and want to eat all day long, you’re going to need some tips on how to do it inexpensively, so at least you don’t go broke doing it. Here are just a few of the rules I follow to get the best bargains and keep my wallet from emptying out by the end of the first day.

Bring snacks

Trick your stomach by bringing snacks with you in your bag each day. This way, if you’re tempted to nibble on something, you know you have them on you and are less likely to spend money on food you don’t really need.


Eat where the locals eat

Just by avoiding touristy areas, you can save a lot on your meals. When you’re out, ask a few people where they recommend. They aren’t going to tell you they prefer a chain restaurant over their favorite local pub. The food is likely more authentic than those that you can find right near tourist attractions, making it cheaper, because it’s local and not shipped in from a different country.


Make lunch your main meal

If you really want to try one of the “hip” restaurants by a celebrity chef, make reservations for lunch. The food will be just as good, but it’s usually much cheaper at lunch than at dinner.


Hit up the food carts

Food carts can have a huge variety of different local and international foods, but can be half the price of (or less) than dining at a sit-down restaurant. With this kind of savings, you can try fare from several carts with no regrets.

Rent a vacation home or stay in a hotel with a kitchen(ette)

This is my favorite way to stretch my food budget, because there are so many options. Renting can be a great value over hotel stays if you’ll be visiting for a week or more, plus it gives you the chance to check out the local grocery store. I am not a big breakfast person, so instead of eating out for that meal, I shop for new cereals and pastries that I can’t get at home. There’s never a better time to try new foods! 

Stay at a hotel that offers free breakfast

You don’t realize how much dining out can cost until you go on vacation. A reasonable breakfast can cost between $8-15 per person. If you multiply that by the number of people you’re traveling with and the number of days you’ll be staying, that number can be huge. If you find a hotel in your price range that offers free breakfast, you’ve hit a jackpot of savings.

Sign up for Groupon (or other daily deal sites)

Groupon is an amazing little site that offers daily deals on a wide assortment of things, not least of which is dining. Each day a new offer goes up at a big discount off the regular price. Dining certificates can be purchased quite often and many times I have gotten a half-off gift certificate to a new local restaurant or one just trying to bring in new customers. It works! Sign up at Groupon for the destination of your next vacation (they cover many international locations as well as the United States) and eat for less!

photo credit

Don’t order off the kids’ menu

If you travel with children, you’ll notice that all kids’ menus seem to have the same small rotation of foods. Obviously, little ones don’t just live on hot dogs, pizza, chicken nuggets and PB&J sandwiches. Not only do they charge an outrageous amount for these “staples” that cost hardly anything to make, but they offer hardly any nutritional value and your kids are likely to eat only half of it before declaring they’re full. Instead, order a meal that you both will eat and share. This saves you money and might get them to eat a vegetable or two.

Split your meals

Because I want to eat all day, and everything looks awesome, we often split meals, so we aren't super full, but also so we can sample a little bit more during the day. I find that most restaurants serve at least twice as much food as you should eat anyway. You might also want to just order a few different appetizers to share. This works even better if you're a little too hungry for only half a meal and the restaurant offers free bread you can fill up a bit on.

If you travel with children, having them split a main meal, instead of spending practically the same amount each on two (or more) children's menu items that is the same thing you could eat at home or down the street at a fast food restaurant.

This is just a small list of things you can do to help stretch your food budget on your future trips, but they can save you quite a bit, as they have me and my family on our travels. Remember, the more money you save on meals, the more money you can spend on doing something else!

How do you save money on dining out when you travel?
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