Popping open travel budgets

There I was, in England for the very first time. It was the start of my two-week vacation that I had saved and planned for. My hotel included breakfast, so that expense was taken care of. But on day two I found myself thinking negatively about having to pay for meals out. It’s a combination of two things I like the least – food and spending.

London-Lamb and Flag view
My view from the Lamb and Flag pub in London, where Charles Dickens used to hang out. Photo ©Dossier Communications.

Usually I try to be as disciplined with food as I am with money. I found myself fretting (some may say minor meltdown) and had to have an honest (some may say harsh) talk with myself. What did I want to remember about this trip – pinching pennies or everything else? I had saved, I had planned and I had the money, so it was okay to loosen up a little – it was vacation after all!

Trying local cuisine is part of the art of travel. I did create inexpensive picnics by shopping at the Marks & Spencer grocery store but I also ate hot meals in pubs.

London-Hotel room picnic
I don’t always love my life, but when I do, I’m having a picnic in my London hotel room with shortbread and cider from Marks & Sparks. Photo ©Dossier Communications.

I tried steak and ale pie, Sunday roast with Yorkshire pudding, and a concoction the name of which I forget but involved beef wrapped in pastry. I picked raisins out of scones and I tried 12 different kinds of cider. Since India was part of the British Empire until 1948, even the curry I had counts as English food, especially as Indian take-out places are everywhere.

London-Lamb and Flag-Steak and ale pie.JPG
Steak and ale pie at the Lamb and Flag pub, London. Photo ©Dossier Communications.

Each meal was a chance to get off my feet after hours of walking, reflect on my trip thus far and enjoy my surroundings. The best was at the Lamb and Flag pub in London, where Charles Dickens used to hang out. I visited pubs from the 1700s, 1600s and 1500s – taverns older than my entire country, each with their own story and each contributing to mine.

When I got home I paid off my credit card with the remainder of my travel savings. While I’m sad it’s depleted and the trip is over, I’m glad I don’t have a financial hangover combined with my jet lag.

Once again I’m struck by how similar diets and budgets are, how primal the feeling of deprivation can be, and how we should do everything in moderation – including moderation. (Thank you Oscar Wilde.)

Sometimes you need to loosen up a little and enjoy the experience. Even if that means popping open your wallet or the button on your pants.