Food.  It’s one of the best parts of a vacation.  However, if anything I’ve learned from planning a budget, it’s that I almost always go over on my food budget.  I guess you could say that “vacation brain” kicks in and you stop caring about how much you’re spending.  The other reason is that I didn’t do enough good research to figure out which restaurants I would actually eat at.
The last few vacations I’ve gone on, I’ve carefully researched and selected restaurants that I know have good reviews and where I can see a menu posted.  I can use the menu to discern about how much we will spend.  Surprisingly, when you’re tired from sightseeing, you’re OK with whatever you’ve picked out.  I always think I don’t want to plan, I want to be spontaneous.  It’s fun to not plan and just figure it out, right?  Sometimes.  And sometimes you end up starved and arguing about where to find a restaurant at 7 p.m. and you don’t know what’s good or how much things cost and you finally say, “I don’t care if it’s $400, I’m just going to eat it!”  Well, if you actually plan and think about where you might be at the time of day, you can at least have some options.  You can still choose to do something else and be spontaneous, but if you decide you’re tired and hungry and you want to stick to a budget, better pick out some places.

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Here are some suggestions for finding good restaurants around the place you’ll be:

1.  TripAdvisor.  You can search the city you’ll be in and click on the hotel/bed and breakfast you’re staying at.  A handy tool called “Browse nearby” opens up a map and allows you to see what’s around you, including things to do.  If you know you’re going to a museum around lunch time, search to see if there are any restaurants that have good ratings around there.  

2.  Zagat.  These have some great reviews of restaurants in major cities (major like Paris, London, Atlanta, NYC, etc.)  You can narrow down by cost, location (they have Google maps embedded) and type of food.  They rate restaurants based on decor, service and food so you can see what you’re in for.  

3.  Google Maps.  This is a great option for finding restaurants near where you are located.  If you open maps, you can click on “explore nearby” and it gives you the option for restaurants or hotels.  You can see ratings, reviews and you’re in a good place to see exactly how far it is from where you’ll be.

4.  Magazines and guide books.  I am old school and still read magazines for travel destinations, and almost always they review restaurants.  You can find some new or funky places to try.  Guidebooks are also great, especially for foreign travel.  We’ve found some great suggestions in guidebooks when we’ve been in Europe and South America.
 
The other thing I do, besides research restaurants, is make a list of the nearest grocery stores and convenient stores.  Not only is this helpful if you need to pick up some decongestants or body lotion, but for having snacks and food with you in your room and getting bottled water.
 
GROCERY STORES
 
HOTEL
NAME
DISTANCE FROM HOTEL
HOURS
London
SPAR
.2 miles on Queensway
7 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Queensway Food and Wine
.2 miles on Queensway (5 min. walk)
Mon-Sat: 24 hours
Sun: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Chipping Campden
One Stop
.3 miles on High St. (looks like a slight walk behind the main buildings to the left when coming from hotel)
7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Conwy
ASDA Llandundo Junction Supermarket
1.3 miles (3 minutes in a car, over the bridge)
Mon-Sat: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Tesco Llandundo Junction
1.5 miles (4 minutes in a car, over the bridge)
Mon- Fri: 24 hours.
Keswick
Booths Supermarket
4.7 miles (13 minutes in car, in the direction of Castlerigg)
Mon-Sat: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Oban
Tesco Supermarket
.4 miles (10 min walk)
Mon-Sat: 6 a.m. to midnight
Sun: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Millstone Wholefoods
.4 miles (9 minute walk)
9:15 to 5:15 p.m.
Closed Sun
Aldi
.6 miles (15 minute walk)
Mon.-Fri: 8.00am – 8pm
Sat: 8.00am – 8pm
Sun: 10.00am – 7pm
Edinburgh
Earthy Portobello
.3 miles (5 minute walk)
Mon-Fri: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Scottish Midland
Co-op
.3 miles (6 minute walk)
Mon-Sun: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Dublin
SPAR
.1 mile  (2 minute walk)
Mon-Sat: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Nina Thomas

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