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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Frugal Tip for Travelers: Oatmeal!

Mr FS and I went to a conference in the great city of Boston. Our conference--scruffy academic types--coincided with some others: Jesuits (definitely not scruffy and boy did they have opulent food buffets!) and marathoners (boy did they look great!). Also, medical equipment (boy did they look rich!) and endodontists (had trouble telling who the endos were). I love analyzing the aura of the different groups. And I must say that the Jesuits looked the best in their uniform, outshining the lady in the lobby with the giant gray Birkin bag.

Mr FS and I were--as always--seeking to stretch our money in our frugal way. We don't get a food per diem in these hard economic times. I had an idea! INSTANT OATMEAL PACKETS.

These are pretty cheap, especially when they go on sale. I have a lot because 1. I thought Miss Em might want some (she doesn't) and 2. I got a bunch of freebies when both kids brought home boxes abandoned by their dorm mates.

We stayed at the pricy Marriott (conference rate!), which, like most fancy-ish hotels, lacks a microwave. Nevertheless, we could make our oatmeal when we heated water for tea. We used the little half and half in the coffee service for milk. Even without the coffee maker/water heater, you could do this with hot tap water.

The Starbucks in the lobby sold oatmeal for $2.55. Room service (yeah, right!) had it for $9.00.
The real luxury was not having to venture out for breakfast. We haven't yet decided what to use our savings for.

Do you have any frugal and easy travel tips?


the Frugal Ecologist said...

I am a big fan of instant oatmeal - I keep it in my desk drawer for a snack or quick lunch. I have a kettle in my office and the small packets are perfect for a coffee mug. I do get the plain variety though - the flavored ones are loaded with sugar!

I go to meetings for several different societies and even though we are all academic biologists, the dress & level of scrufiness varies a lot!

Jane W. said...

$9.00 for oatmeal???? As if. Good for you.

Shelley said...

No per diem! I'm really shocked...tell me do reimburse you for what you spend even if they don't give you a specific allowance.

Love the descriptions of the groups. I often find myself guessing what nationality people are. I think the Italians are the sharpest dressers and sadly, Americans are pretty much at the bottom of the list.

When we do B&B, we eat huge breakfasts and often make it through the day with just a cup of tea and a scone in the late afternoon. The week we spent in Melbourne, we bought bread/crackers, salami, cheese, salad stuff at a grocery and had room picnics in the evening, with leftovers the next morning for breakfast. We tend to pack tupperware like containers along with plastic cutlery for our trips. The lids can serve as plates in a pinch.

Your instant oatmeal is a great idea for avoiding salami for breakfast.

I've got Baltimore and Boston on my must-see list!

Duchesse said...

Oatmeal makes a great in-room snack! I too avoid room service. Usually one of us goes out (even the night before) and brings back bakery goods, getting around all that.

My clients in the hotel industry told me they disliked conventions of academics, because the room service and in-hotel dining revenues went way down, and "they only want recommendations for quaint, cheap restaurants".

The Jebbies do look god... I mean good.

Anonymous said...

It's things like this that make me love your blog. My college has totally eliminated any travel budget. All faculty travel is paid for by the faculty member...unless it involves an award. We gotta do what we can.

Frugal Scholar said...

@FE--Good idea to take some to work. Now that I think of it, we sometimes have mice.

@Jane W--I wonder if I'll ever get room srevice...probably not, alas.

@Shelley--No food covered. In fact, the travel budget was frozen after we signed on to the trip...much nail biting, but we will get airfare plus part of the hotel.

@Terri--The travel budget (actually about 2/3 of it) was restored this year and then frozen right before we left. Thankfully, we ended up getting the funds for part of the trip. We ate very well and in true frutal style during the trip. Thanks to the wonderful Trader Joes and similar.

The English BandB breakfast is the greatest!

@Duchesse--See response to Shelley above--npt to mention that our salaries have been frozen for 4 years. So I'm even more careful than I used to be.


Debbie said...

My husband and I usually go to grocery stores and end up doing a "room picnic" like Shelley. There are so many good things already prepared and ready to heat up in the microwave. We're careful about our diets, but there are lots of veggie plates and freshly made sandwiches to enjoy.

SewingLibrarian said...

I would be happy to do some of this, but DH absolutely will not hear of it. So we eat three restaurant meals a day while traveling. We tend to stay in hotels that include breakfast with the room (Embassy Suites) or have an onsite restaurant (Courtyard), so the children aren't dying of hunger before we get served.

Frugal Scholar said...

@SL--Love the in-hotel breakfasts!

@Debbie--We did some room picnics for other meals, but it can get so messy. We were happy that it was warm enough to eat a few meals in the beautiful Public Gardens.