How to travel cheap: Steak Smuggling

May 12, 2013 — 6 Comments

In the past, I’ve discussed how we’re saving money on our round the world trip by cooking our own food.  Sure, it’s easier since we have our own camper van with a partial kitchen, but it still takes a lot of discipline to actually cook your own food.

Today was one of the hardest tests yet. We’re currently living out of a camper van as we drive the down the east coast of Australia from Cairns to Brisbane for 11 days and it’s become routine as we pull up to a grocery store and load up on food for the next 5-6 days.  We have a steady diet of fruit and cereal for breakfast, lunch consists of sandwiches and chips, and we always manage to step up with a nicer dinner of steak, chicken, or some mix with pasta.

It’s easy to stick to our normal routine as we’re still in the camper van, but today was a little different as we checked into a hotel for a much needed pick-me-up and rest.  As mentioned previously, I can occasionally pull from a stash of Starwood hotel points to get a cheap hotel night so that helps.

Our resort tonight is quite nice and we were upgraded to a corner suite overlooking the ocean.  It’s only possible because I traveled almost nonstop for eight years and gained status with the hotel chain. So here we are, relaxing in our plush digs while still in our camper van mindset of looking for free cold showers and clean bathrooms to make our next stop.  Oh, how nice it would be to embrace the entire situation and order some delicious room service!  Or we could walk down to the restaurant and join the rest of the tourists in the seafood buffet… but no, we must stick to the plan!  Here’s the view from our room:

View from Resort

But alas, if we want to stretch our money out and stay on budget for the next 7 months, it’s a sacrifice we have to make.  As I head down to the camper van, I passed the buffet and saw all of the happy people loading up their plates like they’d never eat again.

hotel buffet

To make up for not getting the seafood buffet, we decided to treat ourselves with the steak we previously purchased along with potatoes and vegetables.  The best part is we had to park in front of the hotel because our camper van is too tall to fit in the parking garage – but luckily the road is pretty far below the hotel entrance and they couldn’t see me preparing our meal!  Notice the lovely design of the camper van and all of the curtains I had shut to protect me from the onlookers!

Prep table

It took about 30 minutes as I properly sautéed the vegetables and slowly cooked the steak in a combination of light butter and cooked mushrooms.  The camper van smelled better than the dinner buffet I walked through so it was a good start!

preparing steak and vegetables

I really wanted to load up the plates and deliver it to our room like room service, but I knew the food wouldn’t survive on the plates during the long walk to the room.  Again on the way in I had to walk through the restaurant/buffet, but at least them time I knew I’d be eating soon! Here’s the final set up… and of course, we had to have our Tim Tams for dessert!!

Food in room

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6 responses to How to travel cheap: Steak Smuggling

  1. It’s hard to be good when you are tempted like that. Well done my friend! Looks delicious too! 🙂

  2. Those are great looking steaks. The hard fought meal is always better than the one you can simply buy.

  3. I love this and could really relate to your dilemma. It would have been easier to have succumbed to the temptation but then it would have made the expenses shrink more then you would have liked. I love the meal you prepared. I also believe it tasted better knowing that it didn’t break the bank. 🙂

  4. As someone who used to work in the food service industry, I can convince myself to avoid buffets by reminding myself what incubators they are for all kinds of ickiness. The streaks were a much better choice 😉

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