We’re on spring break in our house right now. We generally stay home over spring break because my husband has work during break that he can’t skip, and the cost of traveling during the same couple weeks as everyone else in the country is a bit much for me to stomach. Before I had children and it was just me or just me and my husband, it didn’t seem like such a big deal to travel, but now we need to fly four people. We need to have beds for four people. And most importantly, we need to feed four people. It gets really expensive.
We’re already starting to think about where we might go this summer, and a road trip is probably on the agenda, even with gas prices skyrocketing – and yes, I’m lucky enough to live in Chicago that currently has the highest gas prices in the nation. I know I’m not the only one who looks to find ways to make vacations more affordable so that we can go, but also so that we can do more fun things while we’re on those vacations. One thing we almost always try to do is to find a hotel that offers more of a home or apartment type feel. This allows those of us on different schedules to not all have to turn the lights off at the same time, and the ones we look for also have kitchens.
Why kitchens? I know the last thing some people want to do while on vacation is cook, but I am consistently amazed by the cost of eating out. Even breakfast for four people averages well over $30 in most restaurants we visit. Toss in two more meals out, and that gets incredibly expensive. For the cost of eating out for one day, I can zip to a grocery store and purchase food for a week – and then some. I also tend to be fairly sensitive to salt, and the amount of sodium – and fat and general calories - in restaurant meals, so it’s hard on my body to eat out that often. Instead we create simple meals – cereal or pancakes in the morning, spaghetti and meatballs, soup, quesadillas, sandwiches, and the like. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and it’s nice not to have to wait sitting down at a table for our food all the time with small children, either – watching them getting antsy and trying to keep them patient.
Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan, lifestyle expert, founding editor of Apartment Therapy‘s culinary arts site, TheKitchn.com and author of Good Food to Share, may dress up her hotel meals a little more, but making herbed lemon butter popcorn (we make popcorn for movie night either on the stove or using “real” kernels in brown lunch bags in the microwave for individual servings) sounds like an ideal treat. And who wouldn’t go for some whipped hot chocolate that is super easy to make and taste better than what you could get at most restaurants? Sara has several ideas to share on how to make your hotel feel like a home away from home, including recipes for those treats and more.
Here are a few meal ideas you might be able to try:
This hearty lasagna has all the comforts of home, with earthy mushrooms and bits of salty ham help this silky baked pasta dish burst of flavor.
Herbed Lemon Butter Popcorn
When you’re on the road it’s easy to reach for the pre-seasoned microwave popcorn, but if you have a kitchen, try something more special. Here, thyme leaves, maple syrup, lemon and salt can take care of all your cravings.
Whipped Hot Chocolate
A cup of hot cocoa is a comforting and whimsical end to a meal. When on the road, this dessert is much more simple than something baked, and still provides the feeling of homemade goodness.
Watermelon Mojito A big crush of watermelon in the mix is not traditional, but in the summer when watermelons are crimson and bursting with flavor, it takes this potent cocktail over the top. This drink goes down easy, so if it’s your first time, proceed with caution.
The HYATT House is an example of this type of hotel, with separate living areas and bedrooms. They have kitchens and laundry facilities- and yes, we do laundry while on vacation, too. It’s easy to pop some in before dinner and have it dry before bedtime, meaning we can pack far fewer suitcases and avoid some of the baggage fees when we have to fly. The brand new 53 locations of HYATT House also have complimentary breakfast and an evening social (in some locations, this is a full bar and small plates menu instead), making it even easier to feel relaxed and save money. And yes, there is of course complimentary wi-fi throughout the property.
You could win a trip to any Hyatt House
Be sure to enter this contest on the HYATT house Facebook page where you have a chance to win a trip to any HYATT house of your choice with up to nine friends, complete with round-trip transportation and an exclusive house party.
In the interest of full disclosure, although I received no product for review, this was a compensated post. As always, all opinions remain my own.
Written by 5Minutes4Mom contributor Michelle who dreams of heading out on vacation without a care in the world. And someone who will make her some of that whipped hot chocolate with some herbed lemon butter popcorn to go with it. Instead she’s musing about her life – and sharing recipes – at her blog Honest & Truly! while staying at home in Chicago. You can also find her on Twitter as @HonestAndTruly.