When in Rome… or Manila, Prague, Sydney, Vancouver, Jakarta, Mendoza, Florida, and so on…eating and drinking is a major part of your travel experience. Cultural immersion is absolutely founded upon what you sample and what you sip.
More than seeking recommendations for wining and dining– let’s take a look at it literally: “How do these folks eat and drink?” A sincere answer, from a local, will likely lead you to the grocery store, co-op or the farmers market and if you’re trying to stay sincere to a budget, it “pays” to take that advice seriously. Guest blogger, Courtney Capellan is a well-traveled book junkie, a word snob and a technically creative writer. Here, Courtney shares her best tips on saving on cocktails when traveling and how to indulge authentically, be creative and get tipsy- crafting your own cocktails on vacation!
Get off the barstool and enjoy a drink with a view!
It’s effortless to sit on a barstool and watch an expert stir, shake and serve you delicious drinks. You went on vacation to be there– enjoying the seashore view, the busy city or the mountain atmosphere. Chances are you’re sitting next to a bunch of other travelers, trading stories but if you’re willing to defend the idea of putting in some work preparing your own drinks, you might surprise yourself (not only as an amazing bartender) but elsewhere with a better view of the same beach (on a glass bottom boat with a turquoise cocktail in a to-go cup). Or in the bustle of the same city (watching a local parade, proud of your perfect Pina Coladas in plastic cups). Or fireside at a high altitude lodge (licking sangria popsicles you froze overnight and stashed in your ski jacket). Certainly, there’s more to discover when you’re not a statue on a barstool.
Whether you’re on a trip with the girls, the guys, alone or among family- everyone wins when you bundle. How do you bundle? Purchase ingredients in bulk–just like you would at home! For example, compare paying $15 for that poolside specialty drink to buying fresh pineapple, giant oranges and pints of Caribbean dark rum and Triple Sec. Mimicking expert recipes from a poolside bar (all ingredients are typically in the menu description anyway) means providing a round for the whole crew. Double up and $30 buys you the big bottles for plenty of refills and toasts all around.
Lucky for you if you’ve traveled to a destination at its peak growing season; time to get to know the local markets and farmers. Talk with the farmers and inquire about what’s in season, what the best values are and how to prepare new-to-you ingredients. Basic barware can be something you stuffed in your luggage ahead of time, otherwise make a list for an efficient trip to the store. A tip for playing bartender for those with a refined palette: find a stainless-steel cocktail shaker and pronged cocktail strainer, which allows the cocktail to breathe like a good glass of wine. No confidence about impressing your company? Buy a good bottle of wine for the price you’d pay for a good glass of wine. Craft, or micro-brew beers are handy for stocking your hotel fridge as well.
Reserve your bar.
Speaking of the fridge, make sure you reserve one. The options for hotels that come with a complete kitchen are many. Search for hotels online, well in advance for your trip and consider reserving them directly from hotel websites. Avoiding third party booking agencies may save you a few bucks in taxes and the strain of reading the fine print. Not to mention, many deals and discounts reside on third-party sites for limited time only. If you’re traveling to an attraction-based area, for example, Disneyworld–explore offsite accommodations. Amenities like grocery delivery might even save you time and a trip to the store.
Additionally, when on the hotel hunt, explore onsite dining options. You don’t have to spend every night quenching the thirst of friends and family. Some places offer more than a mint on your pillow. For example, in Orange County California a trendy hotel serves guests free wine and cookies at sunset! In Hawaii, everyone expects a good lei but wouldn’t it be nice to get the tropics AND free welcome drinks? A small budget goes farther in the Philippines where you can get welcome cocktails at the airport!
Wherever you roam… Anatoli, Hokkaido, Oaxaca, Medellin, Durban, Bonn, California and so on, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice cocktails in the name of budgeting. Be willing to do-it-yourself for a few happy hours on your next vacation and spend the money you save on… souvenirs and more travel!
*How do you save on cocktails while traveling? Share your best tips and tricks below! If you would like to guest post for The Pin the Map Project, learn how to contribute here!