Oatmeal is kind of my thing in the morning, and I’ll do most anything to get it – especially when traveling. Of course hotel porridge is no where near as good as my homemade bowl of oats but it will suffice during most times.
I flew to Tempe, Arizona for the weekend for a work conference (all expenses paid, woot woot!) and this morning I ordered a nice bowl of oatmeal with fresh berries (no free continental breakfast here) and it was decently satisfying. Definitely better than most hotels. But it was $20! Ok, so it was room service, but the room service charge was only $3! Unless they’ve got people harvesting the oats and berries from out back of the hotel, I can’t justify a $20 bowl of oats. No matter how ridiculously good it may be.
So, this whole situation motivated me to post some tips for keeping your breakfast healthy and inexpensive while traveling – especially if you’re staying in a hotel that does’t offer a free continental breakfast. Breakfast is the easiest and cheapest meal of the day, so let’s make the most of it.
- For all you oatmeal lovers: arrive to your hotel with pre made baggies of oatmeal (either make them at home and pack them with your luggage, or make a quick stop at a nearby grocery store for ingredients). Oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, flax meal, raisins and cinnamon. Just dump it all into a bowl and heat it up with some water in the microwave. Hotel room lacking a microwave? Use the coffee pot to brew hot water.
- Take advantage of your mini-fridge: If you like cereal for breakfast, run to the store and grab your favorite cereal and 1/2 gallon of milk (or several small cartons, depending on how long you’re staying) and keep it in the room. Just ask the front desk for a bowl and spoon; odd, I know, but hey, your dealing with the hospitality industry so they HAVE to please you. And if you have leftover cereal before you head home, trash the box and stuff the leftover bag of cereal in your carry on for a healthy snack. Some other breakfast foods you could buy include fresh fruit (apples, oranges and pears if you don’t have a fridge), whole wheat bread and peanut butter (think peanut butter sandwich or peanut butter on an apple or banana), whole grain muffins, orange juice. Be creative.
- Choose healthier options at the breakfast bar: Eating the free continental breakfast is sometimes difficult to do, healthfully speaking. Just remember to keep your portions in control and make it a well rounded meal –
Fruit: apples, bananas, oranges, grapes and melons are the most common at hotels and they are all great choices, so pick one. And actually eat it. None of this “I’m saving it for later” crap. (Although, you could grab an EXTRA fruit and save it for later)
Whole grain: whole wheat toast, oatmeal or raisin bran. Typically, hotels don’t offer much in terms of whole grains. Pastries, muffins, enormous bagels, waffles and pancakes seem to be the norm. If you go for one these, make it small or eat half, and go easy on the syrup. Try to avoid those sugary options which will spike your blood sugar and then quickly plummet, leaving you feeling useless for the remainder of the day.
Protein: eggs are most often the healthiest choice here. Peanut butter is second, mostly because the peanut butter they offer is low quality – lots of added sugar and oils – and therefore doesn’t contain much protein. Sausage and bacon are full of sodium and artery clogging saturated fat so go easy on these guys – especially if you’re a regular consumer of them.
I hope at least one of these tips works for you. Challenge yourself next time you travel and give one a try.